New developments Wednesday night in the sex scandal surrounding Teaching Pastor Andy Savage at Highpoint Church in Memphis.
According to the Montgomery County District Attorneys office in Texas, no charges will be filled against Savage.
In a statement provided by Montgomery County Constable Pct. 3 Office, attorneys “researched the law that would have applied in 1998 for the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations has passed and no charges would be able to be filed. Using the current statute we would have some possible options but we are limited to the law as it was at the time of the offense in 1998. As a result we are unable to investigate and seek justice to the full extent of what would we normally would in such a case.”
The developments are not stopping hundreds from signing petitions to keep or remove Savage. Publishers and cruise lines are canceling deals with him.
The Memphis megachurch is keeping silent about what’s next for Savage who is accused of forcing a 17-year-old to perform oral sex on him twenty years ago in Texas.
Administrative Pastor Jim Pritchard contacted Local 24 Dave Detling saying an announcement would come from the church Wednesday or Thursday.
This story is a topic on the minds of many faith groups.
“I imagine a lot of eyes are on Highpoint,” said Dr. Steve Stone, former founder and pastor of Heartsong Church in Cordova.
He told Local 24, the Andy Savage ordeal is a tipping point for church communities and gives church leaders the opportunity to openly talk about sexual misconduct and how to cope.
“I hope they are talking,” said Dr. Stone. “I’m afraid some congregations would be too shy or afraid to deal with these kinds of matters but they are crucially important.”
YouTube video of Highpoint Church’s Sunday service shows Pastor Andy Savage apologizing to his congregation about what he did as a youth pastor in Texas.
Savage said in part, “I accepted full responsibility for my actions. I was and am very remorseful for the incident and deeply regret the pain i caused her.”
Still, many people, including sexual assault survivors, are calling for Savage to resign.
“The only thing he can do at this point, not to defame the name of God is to step aside,” said Kenny Stubblefield.
More than 17-hundred have signed a chang.org petition requesting that Savage resign or be fired. Another online petition shows more than 100 people supporting Savage.
As the congregation heals Local 24 has learned Christian organizations are cutting ties with Savage.
On Tuesday publisher Bethany House announced it was canceling Savage’s book “The Ridiculously Good Marriage.”
The pastor’s upcoming gig as a speaker on K-Love’s January cruise was also canceled. His photo no longer listed on the ship’s lineup of entertainment.
Dr. Stone said all this is typical.
“Sometimes pastors are set up to be better than everyone else in the eyes of the congregation,” he said. ” When it turns out they are kind of like every other people, congregations can get very disappointed. It could be far worse.
Late Wednesday night Local 24 obtained and email sent out to Highpoint congregation Members by Lead Pastor Chris Conlee.
The email read:
Highpoint Church, its leadership, and its decision have received much media attention over the past week. Unfortunately, not all accounts have accurately conveyed our church nor our community.
We realize many of you have questions, and we apologize for not being able to respond sooner with answers. Thank you for your patience as we do our best to respond respectfully and appropriately.
That said, it was prematurely announced this afternoon on The Ben Ferguson Show that our Teaching Pastor, Andy Savage, who has been at the center of much of this week’s discussions, will join radio host Ben Ferguson tomorrow, Thursday, January 11, to further clarify and explain what happened more than 20 years ago, as well as this past week.
This interview will air in Memphis on 600 WREC, FM 92.1, and on iHeartRadio. The show begins at 4:00pm CST.
In addition, we plan to release updated information on Friday for our family to help clarify additional questions you may have.
Please continue to pray for all involved in this situation.
Local 24 reached out to Ben Ferguson and Highpoint Church.
Highpoint Church’s Administrative Pastor told reporter Dave Detling over the phone the Conlee email, “is in part some of the statement” church officials would be releasing to the media.
Stay with Local 24 on-air and online as we follow this developing story.