Silent no more: a survivor of sexual assault by prominent Memphis pastor Andy Savage shares her story #metoo #churchtoo #silenceisnotspiritual

"You are not to blame. You did nothing wrong. You are not alone." These are the messages we hope every victim will hear and believe. The waves of sexual assault stories by prominent, famous and powerful people have spread far and wide these last few months, most profoundly impacting those who have suffered abuse of their own. This has come as no shock to those of us who have been sounding the alarm for years about rampant abuse in churches by pastors and other leaders. Thankfully, the spread of #metoo stories has merged with #churchtoo, giving courage and space for more victims to come forward and break the silence protecting sexual predators.

Texas Penal Code Chapter 5. (22.011)
Title 5. Offenses against the person.
Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses.
Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault.
(b) A sexual assault [...] is without the consent of the other person if: [...] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser …
Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient's] .  .  . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor”
This post is in coordination with Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch. We are honored to be entrusted with helping a brave woman break the silence. 

On December 1, 2017, the following email was sent by Jules Woodson to Andy Savage, co-founder and teaching pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The church has three locations throughout the Memphis area.
From: Jules Woodson .
Date: 12/1/17 9:21 AM (GMT-07:00) 
Subject: Do you remember? 

Do you remember that night that you were supposed to drive me home from church and instead drove me to a deserted back road and sexually assaulted me? 

Do you remember how you acted like you loved me and cared about me in order for me to cooperate in such acts, only to run out of the vehicle later and fall to your knees begging for forgiveness and for me not to tell anyone what had just happened? 


To date, Andy has not replied. 

This is Jules' story in her own words. [*warning: contains graphic content]

One evening, in the early Spring of 1998, I was hanging out with my youth minister, Andy Savage, at my church, Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church located at 10801 Falconwing Drive. I was 17 years old at the time and a senior at The Woodlands High School. There had been multiple kids there at the church after school, but as the night got later I was the only student left, alone in the church with Andy. I did not have a vehicle at the church, so Andy offered to take me home to my Mom's house.

It was dark outside. As he was driving me towards my home, he passed the turn he should have made to go to my house. I asked him where he was going. I don't remember his exact response, but it was something along the lines of ‘you'll see’ or ‘it's a surprise.’ I know for sure he did not tell me where he was taking me. I remember feeling special and excited, as in my mind, he obviously wanted to spend more time with me before taking me home. I assumed we were going to get ice cream.

*He turned onto a dirt road and continued to drive. There were trees all around. I could not see the main road anymore, from which he turned from. I asked what was back here. He told me they were building a church. I thought, maybe that’s what this was about, maybe he has some secret to tell me, like perhaps he was moving to another church. We reached a dead end and he turned the truck around before putting it in park. We were stopped, and he turned the headlights off. Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. He asked me to suck it. I was scared and embarrassed, but I did it. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me. He then asked me to unbutton my shirt. I did. He started touching me over my bra and then lifted my bra up and began touching my breasts.

After what I believe to have been about 5 minutes of this going on, he suddenly stopped, got out of the truck and ran around the back and to my side before falling to his knees. I quickly buttoned my shirt back up and got out of the truck. Now I was terrified and ashamed. I remember him pleading, while he was on his knees with his hands up on his head, ‘Oh my god, oh my god. What have I done? Oh my god, I'm so sorry. You can't tell anyone Jules, please. You have to take this to the grave with you.’  He said that several times. My fear and shame quickly turned to anger. I had just been manipulated and used. I swore to him I wouldn't tell anyone just to get him to stop. We both got back in the truck. As he drove me home, I don’t remember there being any conversation. I was in shock.

As soon as I got home, I went straight to bed. I couldn't fall asleep fast enough. Please God, let this all be a bad dream, I thought. Yet the hurt I was beginning to feel soon snapped me back into reality. This was no bad dream, this was a living nightmare. The secret quickly began to eat away at my soul. I couldn't concentrate at school. I couldn't think about anything else. The fear, shame, anger and hurt consumed me. As embarrassing as it would be for me to tell all the ‘dirty’ details of this horrible secret, I had no other choice. What happened to me was not right nor had it been my fault. I had to report this. Little did I know, the very people I was about to entrust to protect me and help me would not only victimize me all over again but would also engage in a cover up to protect my abuser and the image of the church.

Larry Cotton was the Associate Pastor of Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church at the time. Steve Bradley was the head pastor. I mustered up the courage to go tell them what happened. For some reason, Steve wasn’t available, so I only spoke with Larry. I remember asking him if I could speak privately with him and he said yes. I started out by saying something awful had happened to me. I was already crying. Somehow, I felt brave enough to tell Larry every detail of what had happened with Andy. I was mortified but I thought I was doing the right thing as both Larry and Steve were over Andy in the church and I was way too embarrassed and scared to tell anyone else, especially my own parents.

Just as I had finished telling my story, Larry immediately spoke up and asked me to clarify. He said something to the effect of, ‘So you’re telling me you participated?’ I remember feeling like my heart had just sunk to the floor.  What was he asking? More importantly, what was he trying to imply? This wave of shame came over me, greater than I had ever felt before. I had just gotten done telling him everything that Andy, my youth pastor, asked me to do. I didn't say that I screamed no, jumped out of the car and ran into the dark forest because I hadn't. I told him that Andy had asked me to perform oral sex and unbutton my shirt and I did. Every ounce of courage I had gathered, to walk in there and tell Larry the truth about what had happened to me, left in an instant. Not only did I suddenly feel this immense guilt for doing what Andy had asked me to do but I also started to feel that this was my fault somehow because I didn't stop him.

As you might imagine, I was beyond overwhelmed at the myriad of emotions I was feeling. I remember Larry telling me that he would have to share with Steve all that I had told him. I asked what was going to happen next and he said that him and Steve would be talking to Andy and that the church would be handling the situation. He told me not to speak with Andy and said that he would be telling Andy not to speak with me as well. Through the tears, I told him that I was too embarrassed to tell my Mom what had happened. He said not to worry, that they would talk to my Mother as well. He then told me not mention anything that had happened to anyone else.  It was very clear to me that I was not to say a word to anyone. 

As days passed I remember feeling more and more hopeless. I was confused as it seemed that Andy got to go about his day to day life, within the church and outside of it, as though nothing had ever happened. In fact, he led a 2-day event at the church, known as True Love Waits, promoting sexual purity not only in abstinence from intercourse before marriage but also abstinence in any physical contact, actions and thoughts which might lead to sexual arousal. The irony had not been lost on me. Yet, here I was sinking deeper and deeper into this pit of depression. I had no where to go, no one to talk to. After all, I was given one job by the person I had sought help from (Larry,) and that was to keep my mouth shut.

Not long after, I was meeting at the church with my all female discipleship group. I hadn’t had much interest in even being at church since everything that had happened but, deep down, I think I was just seeking some sort of solace in my faith for all the pain and hurt I was going through. Something came over me that night. I remember feeling disgusted and frustrated. What happened to me was not right! Why were my pastors not listening?! As if a final breath of courage filled my lungs, I opened my mouth and began to share some of what had happened to me. Looking back now, I know without a doubt, it was a cry for help. Tears ran down my cheeks. I remember feeling a slight sense of relief as this was no longer just a secret between myself, Andy, Larry and Steve. However, I too remember feeling as though I had just played my last card. I knew I had broken the rules of silence and that there would be consequences to my actions.

Word got back to Larry and Steve, almost immediately, that I had shared some things with my discipleship group. Now they had to do something. The youth group had a ski trip coming up and they announced to the families that Andy would not be going. Rumors were starting to spread that something had happened between myself and Andy. People thought/assumed that we had exchanged an ‘innocent’ kiss. The church, however, never came out with an official statement addressing what had happened and/or what was being done about it. Instead, they held a going away reception for Andy at the church in which he was allowed to simply say that he had made a poor decision and that it was time for him to move on from our church. Many people came to love on him, support him and say their goodbyes. There were hugs shared and tears shed. No one truly knew why he was leaving except myself, Andy, Larry and Steve. The gossip amongst my church family only continued to flourish. No one could imagine Andy doing anything bad or immoral, much less illegal, and so, it somehow became my fault that Andy was leaving.

I couldn’t have been more grateful that it was the spring of my senior year as all I wanted to do was to leave town and get away from everything and everyone. I had basically shut down.  I felt so alone. It wasn’t until much later that I would realize that no matter how far away I moved nor how much I tried to move on with my life, that I could never truly escape what had happened to me. For example, when I found out that the church had contacted my parents, years later, and asked their permission to bring Andy back on staff, it brought back a whirlwind of emotions. Of course, my parents said NO, but even learning of this was traumatizing. I am a grown woman now and although it’s been almost 20 years since everything happened, it still affects me to this day.  There are triggers that take me back to that night, there are nightmares that haunt my dreams.

My hope in finally coming forward with my story is not only that I can begin to get closure and healing for all that has happened to me, but more so, that my story might have a positive impact on others and effect positive change in how these types of situations are handled within the church.

To anyone who has suffered from sexual abuse in the church and the subsequent cover up and pressure to remain silent, I want you to know that it is not your fault. Most importantly, I want you to know that you are not alone.

Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas changed names and is now Stonebridge Church in The Woodlands, Texas. Steve Bradley, mentioned in Jules' story above, is still the senior pastor at Stonebridge, which is a Southern Baptist church.

Larry Cotton, who was associate pastor at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church at the time of Jules' story, is now a pastor at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, which has five campuses. 

Highpoint Memphis and Andy Savage - if you’ll recall - is the same church that was in the forefront of the news in Memphis in November 2016 for their role in the cover-up of sexual abuse by former church youth leader Chris Carwile. We subsequently uncovered that Highpoint allowed a convicted sex offender in a position of leadership at the church.

Texas mandatory reporting law is in full here.
Sec. 261.101. PERSONS REQUIRED TO REPORT; TIME TO REPORT. (a) A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.
(b) If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, or that a child is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code, and the professional has cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by Section 261.001, the professional shall make a report not later than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects that the child has been or may be abused or neglected or is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code. A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report. In this subsection, "professional" means an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children. The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.
(b-1) In addition to the duty to make a report under Subsection (a) or (b), a person or professional shall make a report in the manner required by Subsection (a) or (b), as applicable, if the person or professional has cause to believe that an adult was a victim of abuse or neglect as a child and the person or professional determines in good faith that disclosure of the information is necessary to protect the health and safety of: (1) another child...
Jules has recently submitted a report to law enforcement.  Andy Savage was an adult in a position of trust as a youth pastor who violated that trust and preyed upon a minor.  This is sexual assault.  We hope that anyone else that has been harmed by Andy Savage will know that they are not alone and will feel safe to come forward and make a report to law enforcement and seek help to heal.

Andy has a new book set to be released on July 3, 2018 by Bethany House Publishers, forward by author and speaker Gary L. Thomas. It's available for pre-order now on Amazon.




Julie Anne said…
Good job, Amy. Thank you for covering this horrific story. I believe Jules! Jules, you have a lot of people who believe you and support you. You did the right thing!
Anonymous said…
Too verbose. You should have used some of this time to muster up an ounce of personal accountability.
Tina Seward said…
Anonymous: If this posting is "too verbose", exactly what should have been done to make it less verbose?

Also, to whom are you referring when you say "you should have used some of this time to muster up an ounce of personal responsibility"? If you're referring to Jules, what exactly is SHE accountable for?

I am really tired of the questions being asked of the victims, "Why did you/didn't you . . .?
Why aren't we asking the perps, "Why did you?"
Anonymous said…
Jules, You certainly did the right thing to stand up and tell the truth about the sexual assault. It is stunning that Highpoint Church’s communication in response to your story was that they would support Mr. Savage and his family. They do not address his postings highlighting other predators such as Matt Lauer. Their comment suggests that the Church worships the Creature rather than the Creator and they have joined other paternalistic institutions in Blaming the Victim. Where is their compassion for the Victim? To recapitulate, this Church would rather uphold and defend a criminal leader than stand for and with his victim. Christ stood with and for the least, rather than the powerful church leaders of the day. I
Anonymous said…
Shove it anonymous.
Gail said…
Children do not have "personal accountability" for being sexually assaulted, coerced, or propositioned by an adult. Or is propositioning a child for sexual acts when you are supposed to be their spiritual guardian totally cool in your church?
Anonymous said…
I believe you Jules and I am so sorry you carry this sadness still.
David said…
I commend Jules for coming out and telling the truth. As a teacher and father of 5 daughters,and military veteran, I cannot help but think of how some men in power abuse their power to get what they want.
The church in the USA is more concerned with appearance than substance. If things stay the same in the American Church, I don't think many church leaders will be happy with Jesus. They are the new Sadducces and Pharisees. I will pray for you and that you get peace, comfort and justice. God bless you.
CM said…
She WAS accountable. She immediately reported what happened. And did you read the response??

"So you participated?" Disgusting.

Her ONLY accountability was to hold HIM accountable. She was a child.

I sincerely hope that "pastor" is removed from his position of authority.
Anastasia said…
The church needs to help the victim heal not just scramble to protect/rehabilitate the perpetrator and itself. Jules should have been provided with a counsellor or therapist not left to suffer alone. Her life was changed irreparably by someone who abused his authority over her, someone who never made amends, who was protected by those who should have been protecting the innocent. Matthew 18:6. Repentance isn't just stopping the action and saying sorry, the pastors need to make things right.
Allie said…
I believe you Jules
Keep talking. Keep shining the light of truth into the darkness of sin. God bless you dear lady. .
Oria said…
I believe you, Jules and support you 100%

Question: How can we start a petition to have Andy Savage removed? The church being held accountable? The publishers of his books to STOP printing, selling, enabling a Child Molester, Sexual Predator and overall Manipulative Con-Artist?!
He must be held accountable! Jules has endured enough victimization while he has reaped all the benefits in pursuing his ‘dreams’!
Jason said…
I was a member of this youth group and distinctly remember the incident and subsequent going away party for Andy. I was a high school senior. The church was definitely led to believe it was an “innocent kiss” - and consensual as well. At the time I remember thinking Andy made and incredibly stupid decision, but I don’t think anyone could have imagined how horrific his actions actually were. I am incredibly disappointed in Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley, who I knew well and looked up to at the time. I am disgusted by Andy’s actions. He should have been reported to the authorities by the church. That was their responsibility and they failed. If churches like Stonebridge and Highpoint continue to protect sex offenders like Andy and sweep these crimes under the rug, countless more women like Jules will be hurt. I am so sorry this happened, and sad that I was so close to the situation and did nothing. I believe Jules and stand with her now.
Unknown said…
Wow - thank you for your bravery and courage here. What happened to you was such abuse and manipulation of power. I am so sorry.

I had a similar situation happen to me when I was very active in church as a teen and college student. With the #metoo movement it is all I can think about.
Anonymous said…
Jason Thank you for standing with Jules.

I noted something in your statement. There was a going away party for Andy. He sexually assaults someone and gets a going away party.

By Andy's own testimony he made it appear like he had to slither away back home in disgrace. Interesting.

By every account I have read of Andy's version and Jules account, the pastors at Stonebridge Larry Cotton and Steve Bradley did not do things in a Biblical manner.

They lied. They lied by omission. Andy lied by omission. All three lied by omission to the church body of Stonebridge. They allowed the people to remain ignorant of the facts.

James 4:17New International Version (NIV)
17 If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them

The basic concept of reaping and sowing is indeed in full play here. Larry Cotton, Steve Bradley sowed deception.
Even though a young underage girl was assaulted by no fault of her own they did not restore their sister back to health. Galations 6:1 I know the verse says a person sinning and she was not sinning but the concept should be all the more carried out to restore her mental and spiritual health as a sister and a victim. She came to the pastors in need of help and guidance and their first response was to assume she was complicit. And then treated her as if she was far worse.

And now 20 yrs later that seed has sown into a full blown tree for anyone to see. The full sin of Andy was not exposed and brought into the light, it was kept in darkness. John 3:20
Everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come into the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.

This assault was not handled biblically at all. It was mired in sin of deception, until a light shone down on it called #metoo.

And the new pastors at HighPoint Church are now caught up in a deception by carefully manipulating a finely scripted sermon in response that not only again covers up the travesty of what was done to Jules but objectifies her #meetoo tweet and email to Andy as a repugnant assault at him.

They assume her accusations are because she has not healed. And maybe she hasen't but then they throw stones at her by standing behind a veil of manipulating words such as "you never heal by hurting others" or "has unforgiveness ever healed you?"

And the worst quote yet. "It saddens me Miss Woodson has not been on the same road to healing"

Ya think? Maybe because she was stonewalled into silence by trusting the shepherds that should have been protecting her.

The HighPoint pastor Conlee delivering the sermon as though they are a safe place to come to be restored and are loving and full of mercy but at the same time point fingers accusing Jules for bringing this to light, and exposing a brother pastor who had paid his dues, has paid his consequences and has repented, and restored himself before God and man is again hiding in sin.

Let me say this , if he had properly repented to Jules, came full out in front of his church body and repented of his exact assault and walked away slithering in shame and not a bon voyage party maybe he wouldn't be reaping what he has sown right now.

If it was dealt with, we would not be hearing about it. There would not be a lady named Jules still dealing with the aftermath.

Bravo Jules. You did the right thing. These men are cowards.
Anonymous said…
I was a member of Woodlands Parkway/Stonebridge during this time. I clearly remember the way it was presented to the church. We were told that Andy had done something he shouldn't have, that he needed to be around people his own age and that we should not ask what Andy had done and that what he had done was not what we were thinking. This was spoken by Steve Bradley. "Not what we were thinking" is a direct quote. Rumors made there way around that Andy and one of the girls in the youth had kissed. The going away party helped reinforce that rumor. Several months later I remember speaking to another member of the church that mentioned their daughter was headed to TN to work with Andy. I assume now that they were unaware, but at the time I knew the parents were very involved in the church so this also helped reinforce the minor misstep rumor. Within 3yrs of this, there was a large turnover of the congregation. The name of the church was changed and they set their sights on being the next Fellowship of The Woodlands Church.
J in Seattle said…
Let's look for a moment at the scenario that these apologists (church leaders, then and current) are running through their minds: if Jules had just been a good, Christian girl and said "No" then this (oral sex) wouldn't have happened. Really? This man drove a girl INTO THE WOODS without her consent and THEN asked her to perform oral sex. What happens next if Jules says "No" as these other men wish she had? Maybe Andy-the-young-man-making-a-teensy-mistake says, "Gee, I feel so embarrassed and ashamed. Let me drive you home right this second and then go and confess my sin to my pastor." Then again, maybe Andy-the-sex-offender forces this girl's had into his crotch, then rapes her, then kills her, and hides her body.

The point is, no one knows what would have happened next if Jules the 17 year old had said "No". Many, many women have had a seemingly "nice guy" suddenly get scary, when we say "No". And Jules is alone in the woods.

Why did Larry and Steve not ask themselves exactly HOW they KNEW they were dealing with a repentant sinner as opposed to a sick predator? Why were they willing to take that chance with the rest of their congregation and then the rest of the world when he left and they remained silent? Why is this sinner's current congregation so willing to ignore the possibility that their leader drove a 17 year old into the woods because that was where he could rape her if she didn't "just do it"?
Anonymous said…
Telltale sign a pastor is not full of humility? Or "Godly" He doesn't step down of his own volition.

Humility doesn't need to defend .
Humilty does'nt worry about reputation.
Humilty doesn't hide behind minimization of offences.
Humility doesn't need standing ovations.

Humilty accepts the repercussions of his actions for the rest of his life.

Humilty cares more about others than himself.

If you are a real leader of the sheep you lay down your life for the sheep. If Jesus is your example you lay down your life. Like Christ.

Instead, we have willful, arrogant pastors who dig in their heals, claim righteous repentance and stand their ground, keep their jobs, and through thoughtfully crafted lies, partial truths, accusation, blame, using twisted scripture seduce the sheep into believing their deceptions.

Wake up church! There is a problem when the *unrighteous heathens* stand up against unrighteousness and the church quickly burries it in false righteousness.

To all the pastors at Stonebridge, and Highpoint, and Larry Cottons current church, you can run and hide from people but you cant run and hide from God.

Clearly you have hardened your hearts and have stiff necks.
Anonymous said…
I am sorry this happened to her but WHY 20 years later ? 20 years !!
Phil Thomas said…
My daughter was in the same discipleship group with Jules when this incident occurred. Like Jules my daughter has been troubled by this incident for many years. What Jules has shared is consistent with the facts as we know them. Andy was given a going away party. My daughter doesn’t recall him publically repenting or apologizing to her discipleship group. Sin is ugly. It has weight & consequence. My son-in-law nailed saying, “I’ve heard this story for years. The church should have called the police”. He’s right. Andy abused his position of power, authority & trust. My wife confronted Larry Cotton about this situation. Steve Bradley assured us proper steps were being taken and Jules was forgotten. Unfortunately, this type of behavior is all too common, it is truly disheartening. It is one more example of the Church failing to exercise its biblical authority of repentance, submission to corrective discipline, reconciliation and ultimately restoration (which doesn’t always mean a return to ministry) regardless of how gifted you think you are.

Jules—you are strong & brave. We apologize to you as your Christian brothers & sisters for letting you become a casualty and ask your forgiveness. Shame on us and shame on the leadership. We extend to you the Peace of Christ who loves you, can bind your sorrows & turn your tears to joy.
Mp0375 said…
What he did was wrong for sure but he was a kid himself. A college student! Have you met some of those? Led by hormones and poor decision making at best. You act like he was a 50 year old pastor. There was like 3 years in age difference. I was 18 when I met my husband and he was 2 1/2 years older than me. A few months earlier and it is statutory rape. She could have said No and fought him or ran if she felt she was in danger. I think this is being blown way out of proportion.
Anonymous said…
an honest recolletion of a strange act perpatrated on you. i was deeply moved by your lack of anger. If Andy was truly sorry he'd turn himself in and face the consequences, but fundamental christians somehow think they only answer to God's laws and ignore all others. This creeper should immediately resign and volunteerly register as a sex offender. That would show true remorse. Those that appaulded Andy's theatrical self serving confession some how missed the point of a coerced, premeditated sexual attack. andy i the worst preditor of all....he appears normal!!
Anonymous said…
No, it was six years age difference, and he was both in a position of authority over her and in the driver's seat. At 23 he was older than most college seniors, and a youth pastor preparing to lead a True Love Waits abstinence conference. They were also not in a relationship, like you and your husband were, so this isn't a case of two teenagers in love just going too far.

Regardless of what you reckon she could have done to escape, the situation is that this grown man and pastor drove a high school girl who was in his care into the woods under the pretense of getting her home safely, pulled his penis out apropos of nothing and without warning, and requested that the girl suck it. Not his girlfriend or a girl he had shown romantic interest in before or after the event, mind you, but a student of his ministry who had no reason to suspect a sexual act until the moment it happened. That is very alarming! I'm surprised you think it's blown out of proportion.
Anonymous said…
Unknown said…
And to top it off Andy Savage is releasing a book on Amazon about marriage! That book needs to be removed and he needs to be held accountable.
Anonymous said…
Based on my experiences as a former music minister at Baptist churches and childrens services case manager, I think that we should encourage people to share this type of instances to at least two adults that they trust that are independent of each other. I think that well meaning adults often are shocked by the news, have difficulty putting their minds around what they are hearing, and don't know the law about what is reportable to children's services or law enforcement.

In some cases, the people with which you share concerns may have loyalties to the person who hurt you. In some cases, the person may be experiencing trauma from hearing your story albeit a lesser trauma than what you experienced. Also, often people believe that they must have first hand knowledge of abuse or neglect to report suspicion of abuse. If you have a reasonable suspicion of abuse, report it. You do not need to know for certain that an allegation is correct, that is what investigators are for. The information that you have in of itself may not be significant but maybe combined with reports from others it may be helpful. If you report your concerns and it is not investigated or is investigated and nothing was found, then you have done your part to protect a child. Imagine if you fail to report an incident and you later learn that the allegations were true. Also, even though an incident may warrant the removal of a child from a home or the prosecution of a perpetrator, children's services may be able to put supports in place to help a parent be a successful parent and alleviate the underlying concerns.

Kind of rambling here. Sorry.

Anonymous said…
My heart breaks for what was done to you that night by Andy and what was done to you by the church leaders you trusted afterwards. It could not have been easy to face the pain again and and come forward with your story. I applaud your courage and hope you finally get justice.
Thank you for speaking up both back then when the shameful church leaders did not do their job and again now.
Anonymous said…
I live in Memphis, and frankly, the rape culture surrounding this story completely disgusted me. The victim blaming is abhorrent. This "minister" does not belong around teenagers. Aside from teenage girls, what kind of example does this set for the boys who need to be taught respect to females? I support Jules and am praying for her.
Anonymous said…
I realize that I am the minority BUT SERIOUSLY it's been 20 years!!! I honestly feel like it's an attention seeking motive when it's been 20 YEARS!!! Forgive, let go, and move on!!
Anonymous said…
I'm a youth minister myself. I regret stories such as this one are so common. From the deepest place in my heart, thank you Jules. Thank you for being an example for me, and more importantly an example for the students I work with. God have mercy on his church. We are supposed to give good news to the poor and release to the captive. These pastors did not.
Anonymous said…
God is on the side of all who are oppressed and all who seek justice.
Serving Kids in Japan said…
"A college student! Have you met some of those? Led by hormones and poor decision making at best."

So, all college men kidnap girls and take them into the woods alone at night, expose themselves and demand oral sex? First I've heard of that.

"She could have said No and fought him or ran if she felt she was in danger."

Fought someone a head taller and who-knows-how-many pounds heavier? And where would she run to? Jules was on an abandoned road, in the woods, in the middle of the night. No houses around, no one to hear her scream, probably not even any streetlights. Where was she supposed to go?

"I think this is being blown way out of proportion."

Even though Savage broke state, and possibly federal, laws? Hoooookay....
Anonymous said…
Have you ever been raped or molested as a child?? The shame, hurt, fear, and self hate, etc she must have been struggling with not to mention the leaders of her church telling her to keep her mouth shut and asking why she participated. So quit asking why it took 20 years!! Some people never tell because it brings on more people blaming them and everyone isn't strong enough to take constant ridicule. So sometimes it takes years to build yourself up to the point of give me justice it's not my fault. Why aren't you asking him why he took her down a deserted road at night and pull his junk out and told her to suck it??? He was after all the adult. And his actions show premedition. So, point your questions in his direction. He is a pastor and was the adult at the time of this incident.
Susan Nack said…
God bless you, Jules. I'm a 30 year old woman who has dealt with some unwanted advances and not had the tools to say no. Church taught me to sit down and be quiet. But the Lord has taught me to yell at the top of my lungs. Praise Him. He's freedom, light, and breath.

Anyway, I'm sitting here thinking about how you must have/still feel. The violation. Shame. Self esteem crash. Worthlessness. Remember in church sex ed they said if you do anything sexually before you're married you're a chewed up apple? HA!

Rahab was a prostitute. Jesus loved her and wanted her to be in his lineage. :)

Jesus cares about the oppressed, frees the captives, hates the hypocrites.

The song I'm listening to that feels right is "Down" by Anberlin. It just has the right mood for grief to have room to breathe.

Much love to you sweet girl.
Anonymous said…
she wasn't a child. she was 17 years old. there are 17 year olds in college, are they still children? there are 17 year old parents. are they still children?
Unknown said…
The Austin Stone is an Acts 29 church.
Unknown said…
Obviously, this type of situation has never happened to you or your daughter. You WOULD feel totally different if it had.
Unknown said…
I stand with you Jules. The church leadership and Savage should have handled it differently.
I am sorry this happened to you. I am sorry your cry for help was not taken seriously by your elders. I am sorry that even now Savage still has not come forward and taken full responsability for his behavior.
I am sorry you still feel hurt.
I understand. You are in my prayers.
Anonymous said…
In the eyes of the law if you are under 18yo and an adult of over 18yo has a responsibility of care for you (such as a youth leader), then you are deemed a child. You may be mature or not even technically a "child", that doesn't mean that anyone can take advantage of you.
aspendougy said…
This Church is guilty of having a slipshod Youth Protection Policy. You never have a young guy drive a teen home alone.
Anonymous said…
I read both sides of the story. I read this girl's "PARENTS" went along with "the story" having been told directly by Andy Savage of the incident, and being told by the Church. Here is where the problem really continues. Her Parents had obligations not to bury this story yet alone not get "their daughter" help. Which is what appears to have happened. Where was their voice then? Mr. Writer? Where are their words of how they failed as Parents "knowing the truth" in this article. 20 yrs ago was 1997. Did everyone forget about the GREAT CATHOLIC CHURCH and all its admissions they were forced to admit,from the early 1980's about Alter Boys being sexually assaulted for Decades by Catholic Priests. PARENTS--you TOO have an obligation to protect your children especially when you ARE AWARE! I do not condone Mr. Savage's actions. He knew he had done wrong. This girls parents knew what happened and DID NOTHING TO HELP THEIR DAUGHTER. Mr. Writer-where are their comments?

Lets get that answer before you continue with further stories. Fellow commenters--Why aren't you asking where were her parents since this young lady still seems to be troubled by this incident. Do you have children? If you knew this had happened to your daughter (or sone) would you SAY NOTHING? DO NOTHING?

Now--so you all now. I am a male-sexually assaulted by a male teacher while I was between 10-14yrs old in the 70's. It haunted me for decades. Tell me I am biased in my viewpoint! My parents, no one knew. Kids don't tell. But in this case, her parents knew and had a great mission to undertake in helping their daughter. What does this girl say about how her parents helped her? That I wish to know Mr. Writer. Where is your full sided reporting?

Once again let me state: I do not condone this Church's actions nor Mr. Savage's actions. But by this girls own testamony--five minutes, he knew his mistake and was on his knees to God! Until you live it, you really don't know. So people making comments--Judge not lest the be judged. I am so sorry this happened to this young lady and via the church, my heart goes out to her.
pdug said…
in texas law "Child" means a person younger than 17 years of age. So Jules was not a child under the law (maybe the law was different 20 years ago...which brings me to my next question)

if the law about clergy abuse wasn't IN the texas law 20 years ago (and I suspect it was not) then what should the church have reported to the police if this was not deemed to be sexual assault 20 years ago?
Mary27 said…
To the person who said that she needs to "move on" because it's been 20 years... it seems obvious that you were never sexually assaulted/abused. That is not something a person just recovers from in 20 years or in a lifetime. That is why it is a crime. And it happened to Jules, not once, but twice, the second time from her pastor. And this pastor BTW went right on to teach a purity class as if nothing had happened.
Anonymous said…
That culture of rape is the product of believing in a 33-yr old virgin man who never "sinned". Whoever believes in that fantasy can then believe that a 23-yr old and 17-yr old, unrelated to each other, can be the last ones to leave church, be alone in a car and a "sexual incident" can't, at least potentially, happen.
Anonymous said…
I seriously have to consider why anyone would protect someone like Andy? What are they themselves guilty of?
Anonymous said…
My question to you Jules, what kind of girl where you at 17? maybe you where a big flurt??? has anyone question your behavior 20 years ago, maybe you wanted more from him. What where you doing getting a ride along with a older guy? We can all ask different questions. You could of said no and stopped the whole thing.. maybe you thought if you did what he said he would like you more...
hopefully girls and boys will report this when it happens, not 20 years later!
Anonymous said…
Of course you didn't "approve" my comments yesterday. They clearly made too much sense. God forbid we have any of that in society anymore!
annette oltmans said…
Thank you for you article. Your voice is important and it is certainly timely. When will we learn? The phrase I (2015) named as Double Abuse happened to Jules once when she was 17, sexually assaulted by her youth minister, minimized, interrogated, blamed and silenced by her church. Now she is being Doubly Abused again. While the perpetrator is applauded at his new church for an apology, she was ignored entirely. No one asked her what she needed or wanted, nor did they give her place in the experience. Hypocrisy and image management seems more the motivation.

It is that secondary layer of abuse that exacerbates a victim's trauma. This is why victims remain silent. They are already traumatized and instinctively know that by coming forward they risk even greater harm, being interrogated, minimized, blamed and ultimately ostracized. When we exacerbate a women's trauma she will likely develop Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a condition that with proper interventions takes five years to heal. When this happens to girls it can develop into something much worse, Developmental Trauma Disorder. As you noted, we are finally engaged in important conversations but why are churches continually silent. I am happy we are now at a watershed moment in our culture where comprehensive training is the solution. At the same time, I am sad to say that I believe the only way that will happen is to litigate churches and hold all those involved personally responsible. Please visit our website for solutions. Thank you. Annette Oltmans Principal Founder
Fred said…
It appears that things are happening. According to this article, Larry Cotton has been placed on a leave of absence while in independent investigation occurs over his part in covering things up and not going to police.

Also, it appears Bethany House Publishers has chosen to NOT publish Andy Savage's next book.
Unknown said…
I believe you Jules. I stand with you. You are brave. You are strong.
Anonymous said…
All 3 pastors should be fired & Mr. Savage be charged. All 3 churches shoould be heavily scrutinized for other sexual offenders, because they protect each other (i.e. - Catholic church). Shame on members for applauding Mr. Savage! If this happened to my daughter in our church, even 20 years later I would demand justice.
Jim said…
God Bless Jules for outing you. Andy Savage, you are a PEDATOR, and should be dealt with accordingly. You were 22, and she was 17. How anyone can let you, be a PASTOR, is beyond me. The thought of you makes me wretch. You knew exactly what you were doing Andy. May God have MERCY on your hypocritical SOUL.
Anonymous said…
"I realize that I am the minority BUT SERIOUSLY it's been 20 years!!!"

You should be ashamed of yourself.

She DID report it right away. To figures of authority, who promptly went on to protect the perpetrator while asking her to keep her mouth shut. So yeah, it's been 20 years of struggle for the victim, while the good pastor went on to have a happy life, preaching sexual purity, and culminating with a book advising on how to have a ridiculously good marriage.

You can't make this stuff up.

Sarah P. said…
I have only heard great things about Austin Stone so I went to their website to check for Larry's employment and did not see him listed. If he was in fact on staff and they have removed him after learning of this, I see that as a victory- that some churches have appropriate responses to this type of offending behavior. If it's a coincidence then... hopefully he isn't on staff elsewhere...

I'm sure this has been stated already, but it's also important for churches to have codes of conduct or policies in place that don't let youth ministers drive children home by themselves. That is just bad practice and could have prevented this situation. I'm so sorry for Jules being mistreated multiple times over. No excuse.
Anonymous said…
Hey there Jules...Really? 22 years ago...MONEY, or do you want to be OPRAH'S VP?
John said…
Shame on anyone who further abuses this woman by making ignorant, unsupportive comments. What's wrong with you people?

Healing to you Jules and shame on the hypocritical so called "ministers" who abused you and covered it up.
Anonymous said…
"Hey there Jules...Really? 22 years ago...MONEY, or do you want to be OPRAH'S VP?"

She didn't wait 22 years, she reported it right away and the church buried the whole affair as quickly as it could. She never got any justice.

This guy committed a crime for which the state of Texas has no statute of limitations, so this "argument" of yours and your buddies up-thread is inane.
Anonymous said…
Age of consent in Texas is 17. Sorry kids but nothing illegal happened.
Magda said…
Hi Jules. I am 45 yo mother and wife. Two years ago I had to stand up to unwanted advances of a new rising star in our little church. Unfortunately he made me feel sinful feelings toward him by inappropriate way he touched me. I told the leaders and of course it turned out against me. He was justified and his actions were swept under the carpet. I was told to forgive although he never apologised. My friends left me alone with my problem and never tried to clarify the situation. I had to leave the church, my faith was in ruins. I feel your hurt Jules...
And thank you that you told the story, you helped me feel I'm not alone. God bless you
Anonymous said…
"Age of consent in Texas is 17."

The crime is sexual assault, not pedophilia.

Texas Penal Code Chapter 5. (22.011)

Title 5. Offenses against the person.
Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses.
Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault.
(b) A sexual assault [...] is without the consent of the other person if: [...] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser …

Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient's] . . . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor”
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the honest account.
Lori said…
We went to Woodlands Parkway Church when this happened and all three of our children were in the youth fact our daughter was in the discipleship group when Jules shared what happened. But as a parent we were never told what happened and never heard an apology from Andy. I remember everything being kept very mysterious and quiet. I just remember being told something inappropriate had happened....a "misjudgment in behavior" and that it was time for Andy to move on. We thought it was wrong and strange at the time and should have asked more questions....I'm very sad and upset with myself now for not questioning this more. Also as a parent of daughters I can't understand how we were not told the facts. Jules I am so sorry you had to go through this in silence. Standing with you now.
Anonymous said…
People posting here in defence of the pastor Andy and pointing accusatory fingers at Jules are deplorable.

I am a victim of chronic abuse growing up. By people in authority and people in the church. Even now, 32 years after the abuse ended i will never address what happened with me to anyone from that church or who are related to my abusers.

For fear of rejection. For fear of not being believed. For fear no one will understand. And most of all for people like you on this page who just sit with zero compassion or empathy to even put yourself in my shoes. Or Jules shoes.

When a pastor uses you for sexual gratification and then turns on you using the authority that you were taught to believe had your best interest at heart it kills your soul and makes you question everything. When you are told to be silent and you get rejected you hope and believe at some point things will change. And when they dont hope and despair set in. Then you think whats the point? Nobody cares. Days turn into weeks and weeks turn to months. You try to carry on until you break down, or something triggers and explosion of past emotions you cant stuff anymore.

And to the guy who said she should have told her parents. Not everyone has a safe nurturing family. Not everyone has communicative parents. Some parents themselves are accusatory, some are so dysfunctional and the void between parent and child is so large , what would be the point.

My own mother called me a slut and whore just when i put on blush and some light lipstick. I never even dated all through school. How would I have gone to my mother?
All of you assume she had nice christian parents and her home life was fine.
Some of you suggest she was asking for it.

What I find perfectly clear is if you call yourselves Christians you are not behaving in love. You lack compassion, empathy, forethought, and want to willfully remain ignorant so you can sit back and blame Jules.

Anonymous said…
Thank you. This is exactly right.
Anonymous said…
So many questions. Is Steve Bradley going to answer any of them? Steve Bradley admits to remaining close friends with Andy Savage to this date and even marrying him to his current spouse. Would any statements he makes be bias or trusted? Pastor Larry Cotton was suspended from his duties with his church. Shouldn’t Pastor Steve also be held accountable?
ColinS said…
Colin says-
Yes the youth pastor took advantage of the young gal and he did act in a manner that likely would or should have put him in trouble with the law as he was the adult and she the child - in his 'suppossed' care.

If Savage had shed light (along with his pastoral leadership) on all of this in a timley way and with full disclosure - he would likely not be a pastor today - unless the Lord desired it.

Statutory rape is a stretch - but even twenty years ago - influencing, pressuring or manipulating a "child" to give her youth pastor a blowjob -- if that had been my daughter Savage would be missing a body part or two - God forgive me.

It is unfortunate that Jules will likely never come to a place of contentment or harmony if she seeks satisfaction only from men (I mean humans of all stripes here - that is human beings). All of us are fallen - the moral here is not too look to man but to look to Jesus for satisfaction in all things; for Jesus to heal and to renew and to bolster and to support us in our deepest grief. I am not suggesting that Jules does not have the moral high ground here - because she does. However man will always disappont - he always has and he always will so she can keep trying but remember what is important is what Jesus thinks of us and to Him we are priceless and there is nothing He will not do to reconcile us to Himself.

This story reminds me of poor Monica Lewinski and her poorly placed trust in another man - Sure she was just 22 - and he was in his mid 40's and a president . . . and rather than treated with empathy and compassion and a little dignity - she was scorned, loathed and a treated as a leper in this society of ours. So, yes let's stand for shedding light on miserable behavior to both women and men (because it happens to both - let me tell you) and let's not tolerate dispicable behavior from anyone but let's also embrace some Christain charity and forgiveness to real penitents. Recall if you please that St. Paul was once a persecutor and murderer of the first Christians but with the proper penitence and grace he became a lion for Christ and was beheaded in Rome for his proclmation of Jesus - may God forgive us all because we all need a second chance.

May God richly bless all of my brothers and sisters in Christ - particularly in this case Jules and Mr. Savage.
Anonymous said…
Thank you, Jules! I support you! To all of the backwards people on here trying to blame the victim or ask why she's bringing this up now (did you even READ the post--she DID report it immediately and put her trust in the church to handle the situation; their response was to throw the guy a party and make him someone else's problem...)--SHAME ON YOU! This wasn't some trifling offense. This was a trusted church leader who took advantage of a young girl and left her with scars and psychological damage that can last a lifetime. Even if he had asked for forgiveness (which it doesn't sound like he has--he asked GOD to forgive him and now asked his church to forgive him but SHE wanted him to apologize--he couldn't even be bothered to reply to an email, so only then did she bring the story back out to light). And the timing makes PERFECT SENSE considering this hypocrite was publicly shaking his head at others who had conducted similar offenses, while omitting the very pertinent fact that he, too, had committed a sexual assault. Plus, he was due to publish a book on love and's really all just too disgusting, and I'm not even the victim! That this man is a spiritual leader of thousands, let alone the father and role model to five young boys and was preaching virtues that he himself does not embody is beyond hypocritical. And again, it would be a different story if he were truly sincere in his repentance and had reached out to the victim to sincerely apologize. Instead of asking why she's making this public again after 20 years, ask HIM why after 20 years, it took the threat of his reputation for him to make a public apology and why, after 20 years, he doesn't deem it necessary to apologize to HER. This man is not a man of God, but a false prophet and I hope his congregation and any others that look to him can see as much.
Unknown said…
This isn’t about being 17 and being basically an adult. This is about abuse of power and he used his position as her mentor/youth leader to manipulate her to get her to do exactly what he wanted. He did it because he KNEW he could get away with it, and he did for a very long time.
Anonymous said…

This is about much more than just the sexual assault. The impact of that act on the girl, already devastating by itself, was vastly compounded by the pastor's subsequent "apology", as well as the actions of the church. Yeah, the pastor kneeled right after the assault, but by asking her to stay silent he demonstrated that his foremost concern was not her well-being, but his own future. The other church leaders only reinforced the code of silence, and concealed the true nature of what had happened from the girl's parents and from the congregation.

All attention was focused on his redemption and none on her healing. They did everything they could to assist the pastor transition to a new life, while her suffering was ignored. It's great to preach forgiveness in the abstract, but all this talk ignores the fact that there was no real repentance, just more victimization. Neither the pastor, nor the church took any responsibility for that, and they still don't seem to get it.
Anonymous said…
Since I attended Woodlands Parkway/Stonebridge when all this went down, I have been following closely. I was bouncing around different articles this evening and I am not sure how I missed it the first time. Larry Cotton, the associate pastor that Jules first spoke with, was placed on leave from Austin Stone Church. The current lead pastor at Austin Stone Church, Matt Carter, replaced Andy Savage as youth pastor at Woodlands Parkway/Stonebridge. Since Matt came to the scene after the fact, I'm sure he didn't know anything...just like the congregation. Glad that they saw fit to immediately severe ties until further investigation. I just thought it strange that no one had mentioned Matt replaced Andy and then Matt later fires (possibly) Larry.
Anonymous said…
We can only hope this third party understands all the facts. Most likely they will interview Larry Cotton , but will they interview Jules, and the youth like you at the time? Probably not. I dont hold much hope the third party review of Larry Cotton will do much.

Someone online said who will be the third party? The Presbtyrians?
My answer would be the Catholics, they are well versed in cover ups and shifting priests around.

Larry to this day is in sin for lying. He would have "gone to the grave" with it. Along with Steve Bradley.
Anonymous said…
We have a son who was abused by a pastor. We reported it to a counselor who reported it to the police. He went to prison but never admitted what he did was wrong and never apologized to us or our son. It took place 18 years ago and our son has a life sentence to live with. Still struggles with the fallout to this day. The pastor was permanently removed from pastoring in our denomination. The emotional damage done to our son will never be fully calculated. Fortunately for us we had church leaders who believed us and made sure this creeper was prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Sadly many people thought the pastor was innocent as he preached such good sermons. Don't they all? Jules did all the right things after this happened. It was her parents that threw her under the bus. They should have made sure Andy was never again around young people or alone with a women other than his wife at any time. And yes, he should have done some time. God forgives but we still have to suffer the consequences of our choices.
Anonymous said…
To the people defending the pastor. I ask you would you leave your teenage daughter or grandchild or niece alone with him. If you answer yes then your juat as sick as he is
Anonymous said…
As long as they were implemented and strictly followed, Youth Protection Standards would prevent this from ever happening. There should ALWAYS be two deep leadership at every youth activity, no exceptions ever. If you don't have two adults, cancel the event. No exceptions.

If in some situation one on one counseling needs to take place, it should be done in view of another adult OR in view of a security camera. Any adult who seeks to be alone with youth is a huge red flag.

These standards protect not only youth, but adults from false accusations. Any modern church that has a youth program and doesn't implement two deep youth protection standards is worrisome.
Anonymous said…
Hey, did you read one word of this article? Jules DID report it when it happened. But even if she hadn't, reporting it later wouldn't make it any less true. Or Andy any less accountable. Stop re-violating this victim. She got enough of that 20 years ago and has suffered every moment since.
Chris L said…
People keep asking why these pastors would act the way they did, protecting the staff member who committed the crime instead of the victim, but the answer is usually one of two things; self-preservation or $$$ (which tend to go hand-in-hand).
Unknown said…
How this was handled 20 years ago is still VERY common today . Powerful men who have followings and use a fake understanding of the Bible use their authority to cover up potential crimes . These people take the Lord’s name in vain . A class on sexual abuse, manitory reporting and how to handle situations like this according to the laws of the land should be a must at every college where Bible degrees are sought . I would bet my whole life savings that every place Andy has served has no knowledge of this crime against this poor child , and if they did , did not report this to proper authorities as the law says they must , or contacted the victim to make sure his story is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This type of crime and handling of it IS rampet in all types of churches today . You are brave Jules ! Keep your eyes on Christ your Lord and not on man . Exposing sin is never easy but you are the voice in the wilderness and Jesus hears your suffering . HE was the man of Sorrows and the religious powerful people of His earthy days would not believe him either . You have many who do hear you and Time’s Up for church’s who break the law !
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
Jules, you did a GOOD thing by speaking up. Speaking up, even if hard and bringing on MORE nastiness, needs to become the new normal, otherwise these people get to just move on with their lives and leave the victims with the fallout. You did a very good thing!!!!
Anonymous said…
You are a Nazi. By not allowing comments that paint the entire picture you're showing how short sighted you're. Do you want to live in an echo chamber? The fact is everyone knew about this, it was no secret. She told her discipleship group. Her parents knew. You are so full of it.
Steve Baughman said…
Truly awful. This is not just about Andy. This is about the system of male dominance in religion. May Jules heal well and Andy make a FULL confession.
Anonymous said…
Jules, I’m sorry.
I know the heartache and pain.
#metoo #michigan #hesstillpreaching #therearemore #ibecametheblacksheep
Anonymous said…
Why is not Larry Cotton being charged for not reporting all this to the Police?

Can the Church be sued?
Unknown said…
Anonymous . . . It’s obvious that this did not happen to you as a child or innocent young teenager otherwise you would understand why 20 years later after the response Jules received from adult leadership in her existing church. I speak from experience.
Alicia said…
I believe you Jules, and I'm proud of you. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you find peace.
JMD said…
Thank you for speaking out. Sorry you were victimized yet again by the PR stunt the church pulled to get in front of the story. Keep writing.
Anonymous said…
I was 17 and had first started going to church (with friends not my parents) as a senior in high school. I had an older man (he was 31) who served in the youth group as a volunteer ask for my phone number one day. I was a little bit perplexed but so new to all of this, thought he wanted to ask me questions about why I was coming to church, ask me to a group event, I ignored the red flags and gave it to him. He called me one night and asked about my sex life. What had I ever done with a guy. I was so confused. Is this what youth group volunteers do? Why is he asking me these questions? Is he concerned about my purity? Does he think I am the kind of girl that looks easy? Again, I ignored the red flags and answered his questions. I was embarrassed and ashamed (after the fact that I answered his questions) knowing that something seemed off. Again, he calls me...this time I head splashing...he is in the bath tub he tells me. He is lonely and he is thinking about me. His fiance lives out of the city and he needs a companion. I know what he is doing now. He is sick. He is a pervert. I am so ashamed that I did not heed all the warnings. I hang up and eventually work up the courage to tell a friend. She says I must tell the youth pastor but I am too embarrassed. How dumb was I!? So, without me knowing she tells the youth pastor. I am thankful she did not listen to me and was courageous for me. He confessed to everything and kicked out of the church. I am so thankful the church protected me and others from being victimized by him. Jules, I am so sorry for what you went through and that the church did not have proper safeguards in place to protect you. I am sorry for your pain! I am so sorry the church tried to cover it up instead of having him face the consequences back then. I pray that you have a relationship with the Lord today that has peace and joy in it. I pray that you know that the Church is still a good place even though it is composed of broken and sinful people and that you have landed in a good church that you can call home. Christ is broken over what happened to you and loves you dearly.
Anonymous said…
When I read the cover-up was done by a Baptist church, it all made sense. I grew up in Baptist churches and many of them employ the victim blame/shame game. It's a confluence of ignorance, negligence, and selfishness as their first instinct is damage control instead of helping the victim and punishing the perpetrator.

# justiceforjules #metoo #churchtoo #silenceisnotspiritual

Cecilla Vickers said…
I was working in a foundry and my boss told me to clean up where a box of small parts had spilled on the floor. I was on my knees when he come over and straddled my face and hunched at it. All the people I worked with every day saw this action. It upset me so much that the next day I turned in my notice and feared going to work for the next 2 weeks. About a year later I was shopping for Christmas when he come into the store where I was and walked up to me and ask me if I missed him. I went to shaking and ran out of the store leaving my shopping cart with my purse and keys in it. When I realized that i had left the stuff I went back into the store and my cart was gone. A store employee come up to me and said that she had seen a man say something to me and I seemed upset. She had taken my cart and stuff and put them into a safe place. To this day I still get the shakes when i see this jerk. I believe he scarred me for life. That was 35 years ago. I have not been able to hold down a job since.
Anonymous said…
I have read several comments from others who state they were involved in Stonebridge Church during this time. They have stated Pastor Steve Bradley was not truthful with the congregation. On Sunday he was still not truthful. Why has Stonebridge Church not asked Steve to step down or take a leave? Cotton’s Church has.
Unknown said…
This is a very spot-on reply, 100%.

If a rapist holds a gun to a woman's head-- she does this act "willingly," just because she performs his demand(s) instead of saying "no"?

It's the exact same scenario here. Being a child driven to a remote, dark, wooded area by a church pastor she trusted is very scary. Few other female children would have said "no" at this point; she was betrayed and taken to a scary and isolated location. Clearly, she felt her life was in danger-- because, clearly, it WAS.

Anyone who has the stupidity and nerve to say "well, she did it willingly" is quite obviously either delusional or in support of rape, or a mixture of both. And anyone who does believe she acted willingly: how many of you would have been able to say no, facing the very real possibility of having to fight off your attacker in an area where nobody would ever have known you were there?

That's another thing: had she said "no" or tried to run into the remote and dark woods: then these digsuting rape apologists would be calling her stupid to have the nerve to do so.

She did what most women would have done in such a scenario: scared and knowing her life could very well have been in imminent danger, not to mention the shock she was in experiencing this from a "Man of God" who was supposed to guide her and keep her safe in the first place. So disgusting, and brave of her that she a) came to the church council right away and b) is coming forward regarding the entire experience today.

For anyone to excuse this man's actions is horrible, but to blame the victim in any way is just terrible beyond words.
Anonymous said…
What is wrong with you? She should have said no or fought him off, when he took her to a remote location in the woods at nighttime, and her life was already in danger?

Not to mention that as a female, she was not physically/ biologically able to fight off a grown male?

The age difference was more than you say, also-- not that that matters. What matters is that he raped her and you are saying it's no big deal, supporting his actions, and claiming she could and should have risked her life alone in the middle of nowhere and at night time to try and stop him.

My stomach is literally turning.
Anonymous said…
She reported it 20 years ago also, and nothing was done-- oh wait, he did get a party.

All these years he has been in a position to do the same thing to other children/ teenagers. You honestly believe he should just be allowed to keep raping other young women?

Also, why are you talking about how she should just "forgive and move on" ('cause I guess rape is no big deal to you) before talking about how he should REPENT?!
G said…

I fully support you in this journey. You did not deserve any of what was done or said to you. You did not ask for this nor are to blame because you didn't stop him. I know exactly what you mean as my first intimate encounter involved the guy straddling me so I couldn't move. I think he thought he was being "manly", but it left me feeling sick. I didn't stop him, but I, too, felt...I don't think there is a word that exists for that feeling, but the aftermath is shame.

Take care, Jules, and bless you for advocating for all of us!
Anonymous said…

As a pastor, I am deeply grieved over what happened to you. Your courage to come forward and make an attempt to heal personally and sound the alarm of wrongs committed is admirable and I applaud you.
The sinful condition we are struggle with is found in the church and leaders are not immune to it as well. I wish your church leaders had exercised more care and concern for you and conviction in the way they "led" through that situation. You should never have had to carry this weight around for as long as you have. Your shame and guilt are a direct result of pastors and trusted leaders who failed to carry out their shepherding role.
This is a lesson for all churches and church leaders...sin will find you out. The act of sexual assault upon anyone is evil, but especially destructive when done to children. I hope your testimony of wrongs committed causes all the pastors involved and their churches to carefully reflect on what happened in the past and consider how best to make it right, holding the leaders accountable.
God is gracious and sin can be forgiven, but it begins with repentance. The sins which were committed so long ago should be repented of by all the leaders involved and they should humbly seek your forgiveness for their failure to act appropriately then and for the trauma you experienced as a result.
Jules, I will be praying that you would find healing in this time. I pray that you would find the ability to forgive the wrongs committed against you so you can move past this and find victory over it. Thank you for your courage; thank you for your honesty; thank you for your willingness to shatter the glass walls of the church and remind us that we're all sinful people who are broken and in need of help through the gospel of Jesus Christ. May you find the help you need in the days ahead!

From a random pastor who hurts for you
Anonymous said…
I was a member of Falconwing/Woodlands Pkwy, as well during this time. The church went on to become Stonebridge not Fellowship of The Woodlands or as it has been called for a number of years, The Woodlands Church. The Pastor at Stonebridge is Steve Bradley who was Paster at Falconwing/Woodlands Pkwy Church. Kerry Shook is Paster of The Woodlands Church former Fellowship of The Woodlands where I attended until 4 years ago when I left there for another church here in The Woodlands. Nevertheless, I know it happened. I was a concerned parent when they brought such a young person to lead our youth.
Torey said…
Dear Jules, thank you for sharing your story here and through the NYT video. I am standing with you and appreciate all you are doing to illuminate these things that should not be left in the dark but brought out into the open and shown for what they are. Your strength is commendable. Peace be with you.
Unknown said…
I share your despair Jules.
NeoGuru said…
You are even to say something so vile about an innocent young lady who had every reason to trust this predator. Save your judgment for the church leaders who covered up this rape and made a terrible situation worse for this lady. Victim blaming is probably the worse sin.
Anonymous said…
I have obsessed over this situation. I have so much empathy actually for all sides.
I know what it is to have guilt and remorse for my wrongs and I know what it is like to believe I was a victim and desperately want the truth to come out but have nowhere to turn.
I don't know the full truth of this situation. I believe a Christian should be willing to go to extreme measures to right their wrongs as much as possible. I understand wanting ones own story to have a bigger impact and positive effect for change beyond ones own situation but I also care about this one situation and what Jules feels she needs to aid her own healing. I recommended Andy agree to a polygraph. It is not perfect but it is something. Jules could work with the professional that administers the polygraph to properly develop the questions she wants him to answer. She could make this public if she chooses. If he is sincere he should have no problem doing this. I appreciated his statement when he resigned yesterday. In her statement I didn't get a good feel for how Jules feels about him and what he is trying to do either for himself or for her. I understand not wanting the conversation to end, wanting real change that effects more people but Andy Savage can't solve all the other problems.
Going to the police does not guarantee justice. I went to the police. I got no justice. There was not enough probable cause to make an arrest. All the person I accused had to do was lie. The person I accused could still continue in their Church and in their community as if nothing was wrong. And because this person claimed to be a christian I went to their church. The person I accused was not in leadership at the church however. I was completely ashamed but I was willing to face my own shame if it would help the truth come out. I believe this person may be a psychopath *(incapable of guilt) and believe they did nothing wrong or they believe they can lie to the police but confess to God and they are forgiven and God loves them no matter what. I am still confused and dismayed by all of this.
Anonymous said…
Sad story. I hate hearing about the long-term pain that can come from these things. I know my wife still struggles with the impact of a guy who assaulted her.

I do also believe its possible he was wrestling with some things and in that moment realized what he was doing and instantly regretted it. Hence the begging for her to not talk about it. That doesn't excuse him from his actions or the cover up but I think its possible he made a mistake and put himself in a very stupid situation. He NEVER should have offered her a ride, OR been there alone with her as the last two to leave. Very very poor decision making there but he was a 22 year old man who probably didn't know any better at the time. I think youth leaders at most places have rules about that kind of stuff.

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