Head Pastor Who Admitted He Knowingly Hired Pastor Who Admitted To Sexual Assault Steps Down At Tennessee Church

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Evie Fordham Politics and Health Care Reporter
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The head pastor of Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee, resigned from his position on Wednesday, following a sexual assault scandal earlier in 2018.

Chris Conlee first came under fire in January when it was revealed that he knowingly hired pastor Andy Savage, who had admitted to committing sexual assault, although no charges were ever filed.

Conlee will speak to the church on Sunday, according to a letter from church trustees to members that was posted on Twitter on Wednesday. (RELATED: Columnist Resigns After Business Insider Erases Her Story About Scarlett Johansson’s Transgender Role)

“Over the last couple of months Chris and the Trustees have been praying and discussing the direction and future of our church,” the letter said. “We have arrived at a point of respectfully agreeing to go in different directions for the Kingdom.”

Savage admitted to propositioning a 17-year-old girl for oral sex while he was a youth pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Houston in 1998, reported the Memphis Commercial Appeal. Savage was 22.

Savage reportedly asked the girl, Jules Woodson, not to tell anyone, but she reported it to church leadership. Savage resigned from Woodlands Parkway after the incident, according to a statement he wrote on Highpoint’s website.

Nearly 20 years passed, and Woodson emailed Savage to tell him that she remembered the incident as her own “#MeToo” moment on Dec. 1, 2017. She told her story in a post on a blog called The Wartburg Watch on Jan. 5.

The post prompted Savage to admit the entire assault during a church service on Jan. 7, reported the Memphis Commercial Appeal. His church applauded him at first, but the story caught negative national attention. Conlee and Highpoint Church leaders stood by Savage in the beginning.

“I have total confidence in the redemptive process Andy went through under his leadership in Texas,” the head pastor wrote in a statement. “In addition, for more than 16 years, I have watched Andy strive to live a godly life and proactively share what he has learned to help others. On behalf of the elders, pastors, staff, and Trustees of Highpoint, I want to affirm that we are 100% committed to Andy, Amanda, and their family and his continued ministry at Highpoint Church.”

Two months later, Savage resigned from Highpoint on March 20, following an investigation by Scott Fredricks, an attorney who specializes in church child abuse investigations, reported the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

Follow Evie on Twitter @eviefordham.

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