The Pastor’s Confession

Andy Savage confessing all. Well, not quite all. But the throng ate it up, and that’s what matters, right?

Jules Woodson accused Memphis magachurch minister Andy Savage of sexually assaulting her during a ride home in 1998. She was 17 at the time of the incident, and he was the 22-year-old youth minister at a Houston church. In a blog post on Watch Keep, Woodson described what happened. Savage had offered to drive her home, but took a detour into the woods.

“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 did it because I was scared and I was in shock and I didn’t understand what was happening. 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,” she wrote.

“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.’”

Woodson said that she told another pastor at the church, and he told her to follow Savage’s demand and keep quiet.

She said felt compelled to take action in light of the “Me Too” movement, and emailed Savage last month reminding him of the incident.

Last Sunday, a few days after Woodson finally went public, Savage told his throng, “As a college student on staff at a church in Texas more than 20 years ago, I regretfully had a sexual incident with a female high school senior in the church.” The Highpoint Church congregation stood and applauded for 20 seconds, CBS News reported.

“Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules,” Savage said during the service, which was streamed live online. “Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago. I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing.”

Ethics points:

  • That wasn’t a “sexual incident.” That was sexual assault. It wasn’t statutory rape, because the age of consent in Texas is 17.

Savage’s failure to accurately describe what happened, intentionally minimizing it to avoid accountability qualifies as deceit. His confession was neither brave nor praiseworthy.

  • Since it was not an open and honest admission of wrongdoing, the apology is hollow. Using the Apology Scale, I’ll rate it a 9.5, somewhere between a 9...

9. Deceitful apologies, in which the wording of the apology is crafted to appear apologetic when it is not (“if my words offended, I am sorry”). Another variation: apologizing for a tangential matter other than the act or words that warranted an apology.

and a 10

10. An insincere and dishonest apology designed to allow the wrongdoer to escape accountability cheaply, and to deceive his or her victims into forgiveness and trust, so they are vulnerable to future wrongdoing.

Savage apologized for an act that he deliberately misrepresented, and he’s attempting to “escape accountability cheaply.”

  • Was he being cheered because he didn’t deny his victim’s claim? You get cheers for not lying now? What other choice did he have? What is so admirable about, “I’m so sorry about the conduct that I have done nothing about nor admitted for 20 years but now that you mention it, I’m sorry, and remember, it was 20 years ago and we all should be forgiving”? 

Could he be more self-serving? Yecchh.

  • What stands out for both its cowardice and stupidity is that when Woodson gave Savage a chance to deal with the situation by contacting him privately, he didn’t respond. In previous cases during the run of the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck, Ethics Alarms has criticized alleged victims of sexual abuse long past for going public before giving their abuser a last chance to make amends privately. Woodson gave Savage that courtesy, sending him an email that said, “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?” He did nothing. She can’t be criticized for exposing him publicly after that.

As for Savage, he didn’t tell his congregation that his victim had reached out to him privately first. Would they have cheered him if he had? Oh, probably. The Lord is All Forgiving, after all. Creeps like Savage teach that, and rely on it. He even said that before Ms. Woodson took her story public, he believed that the episode had been “dealt with in Texas.” That was another lie, because if it had been dealt with in Texas—which it hadn’t been—why did he think she contacted him last month?

  • Savage’s conduct with the 17-year-old, trusting, stunned Woodson is truly repulsive. He gets what he wants, then quickly plays the horrified, repentant sinner, begging for compassion and forgiveness, while demanding that she keep silent forever for his sake. He’s the victim, somehow. Nice routine. I wonder how many other times he pulled it off.  He had apologized later to Woodson’s mother without explaining what he was apologizing for—she had the impression that he had stolen a kiss—then soon he left the church and the state.

This is known as “running away.”

  • It certainly seems as if Woodson’s conduct could not have been more ethically impeccable. She says she informed Larry Cotton, an associate pastor of the church, The Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church, about what had happened, and he urged her not to inform the authorities, promising that the church would address the episode internally. Cotton apparently did nothing.  He is now a director at a church in Austin, Texas, and that church has placed him on leave while it investigates “his qualification for his current role of leadership.”

Once again, a religious institution betrayed the innocent victim of abuse by one of its moral leaders. I would love to know what Jules Woodson’s current relationship with organized religion is.

  • The situation where someone engages in sexual misconduct and it remains unreported and unresolved years later is still ethically murky. It is not ethical for a victim to hold the episode over the head of her (or his) abuser, like the sword of Damocles, until a public revelation will do the most damage or perhaps glean the most publicity, speaking fees, or revenge. On the other side of the ledger, it is not ethical for the abuser to go on as if all is forgotten and forgiven when he (or she) has done nothing to earn either. Savage had 20 years to make amends to Woodson, and she gave him a final chance when she contacted him. He still tried to avoid accountability.

He should not have been applauded.

And now we wait to see if there were other victims in that 20 year period, and if there are, how long his flock will keep applauding.

________________

Pointer: Neil Dorr

Sources: New York Post, New York Times

 

121 Comments

Filed under Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Leadership, Religion and Philosophy

121 responses to “The Pastor’s Confession

  1. I would have walked out of the church nad never gone back there.

  2. Steve

    I haven’t watched or read anything about this but based on the incident as you laid out I would say that this is the problem with the “believe her” approach, he didn’t confirm her story only only that they had sexual contact. Even as a youth minister the power imbalance would likely be more about age than position. Of the vast number of stories out there this seem almost seems like a nothing burger, even with her telling someone at the church it comes down to some young people doing what young people do.

    Now maybe my head is just too stuffed up to see it but even If her account is 100 percent accurate I am not sure I can see the basis of calling it sexual assault.

    • Steve wrote, “January 10, 2018 at 7:46 pm
      I haven’t watched or read anything about this but based on the incident as you laid out I would say that this is the problem with the “believe her” approach, he didn’t confirm her story only only that they had sexual contact. Even as a youth minister the power imbalance would likely be more about age than position. Of the vast number of stories out there this seem almost seems like a nothing burger, even with her telling someone at the church it comes down to some young people doing what young people do.”

      You do realize that your comment contained rationalizations?

      He had position over her, he had age over her, he had her “captive” in a car that he intentionally drove off the beaten path into the woods, she should have been fearful – any teenage girl should have been fearful of the situation – especially with the youth pastor of the church, this was an abuse of power and sexual assault.

      • Steve

        1. He is a youth minister, not much of a position, it isn’t a teacher or employer but more of a peer.

        2. Unacceptable to take her anywhere but where she wanted to go without consent. She didn’t ask where the fuck they were going or demand he take her home?

        3. He stops in the woods and she doesn’t object.

        4. Her response to him pulling out his pecker is to blow him, no objections.

        I think it is far more likely that this comes down to a couple young people spending time together, liking each other and going to fool around in the woods. Now he is a big shot, the time is right and she wants to get some fame.

        • Isaac

          A “youth pastor” is still a pastor. My wife and I were youth pastors for 8 years. The word literally means “shepherd.”

          Pastors don’t have authority over people (beyond what goes on in the church to varying degrees,) but it is a position that requires leadership ENTIRELY by example and trust. (1 Peter 5:3.) That makes the responsibility greater and this kind of betrayal worse.

          Youth pastors drive teenagers around because parents are supposed to be able to trust them. I’d consider this incident disqualifying behavior even if it was consensual. Is it stands, the only right response should have been immediate disqualification and immediate reporting to the police of the criminal behavior.

          (I also have never permitted one-on-one student/counselor car rides, not even for volunteers, let alone the pastor.)

          • Steve

            I finally got a chance to look it up and do a bit mote research. It is apparent something did happen as they did end up getting rid of him. There still seems to be some discrepancies though.

            She is quoted as saying that the sheriff’s department at the time was notified.

            The congregation at the time was informed.

            The new complaint that she made to the constables came back as no action to be taken because at that time there was no laws that were broken.

            With that known I am not sure what else should have occurred at the time.

            The current church was aware of the assault prior to hiring him so I guess it wasn’t something that was being hid but not sure why you would want someone like that around.

            The current Texas law states that one instance of sexual assault occurs “when 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,” regardless of the victim’s age.

            http://www.crimeonline.com/2018/01/10/watch-pastor-accused-of-sexual-assaulting-a-minor-gets-standing-ovation-after-confessing-to-sexual-incident/

            • I had to read the part about the constable more than once, but it seems she did not contact authorities until after the video of the Pastors spin-job. It’s ambiguously written in all the reports.

        • Chris

          1. He is a youth minister, not much of a position, it isn’t a teacher or employer but more of a peer.

          2. Unacceptable to take her anywhere but where she wanted to go without consent. She didn’t ask where the fuck they were going or demand he take her home?

          3. He stops in the woods and she doesn’t object.

          4. Her response to him pulling out his pecker is to blow him, no objections.

          I think it is far more likely that this comes down to a couple young people spending time together, liking each other and going to fool around in the woods. Now he is a big shot, the time is right and she wants to get some fame.

          I hope you forward this comment to the women in your life so that they know they aren’t safe around you.

            • Chris

              It isn’t. Steve is desperately trying to rationalize this behavior as normal and the girl as being in the wrong. Men who think this way are dangerous to women.

              • Steve

                Fuck you Chris

                • Chris

                  Not without consent Steve.

                  • Steve

                    You can be cheeky about it but you’ve repeatedly outed yourself as a shallow douche bag. You’re as bad as any religious zealot, your progressive beliefs, your adherence to the party line hinders any growth you might achieve. To question the actions and ethics of those in the incidents covered on this blog in no way equals violence. I am a firm believer in personal accountability so if I often choose to discuss the victims lack of action that in no way diminishes them in my mind as a victim, I just tend to look at it from a perspective of an individual. In practical terms what can someone do to not be a victim, the only true control anyone has is over their own actions. My expertise is in force protection so that is generally how I will evaluate most issues involving violence or damage.

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      I get what you’re saying, and I’m hesitant to stand by what either of them said. There’s a clear difference between people getting ahead of themselves in a budding relationship and what happened here. It’s one thing to ask your date to go somewhere and “park” or let’s stop by my place before I take you home, or offering the omnipresent “cup of coffee.” It’s also one thing to ask someone you are interested in to do a Jack and Diane. Doing any of those things is kind of piggy, and frankly overrated (most people’s first time was nothing like Baby losing her virginity in Dirty Dancing – steamy music, slowly getting closer and closer, waking up smiling ear to ear).

                      It’s quite another to take someone you are in a position of authority over somewhere you have no business taking her and then behaving like a drunk frat boy who thinks it’s time to rock and roll. Any way you slice it it’s wrong. I just can’t see taking any woman and pressing her to give me what I want when she has no realistic options to say no. No, I’m sorry I need to head home right away, no thanks, I don’t drink coffee this late, no, let’s stick by the group, or in this case “home is that way, please take me there now.”

                      Once you cross her will and silently or overtly say well, too bad, we’re going somewhere I want to go first, you’ve abandoned your role as trusted protector, and abandoned your presumption of trust, and you’ve become a predator. Any way you slice it that’s dishonorable, and if you went into this trying to get her alone so you could try to pressure her into sex, or saw the opportunity arise to get her where you could pressure her for sex, then you are also dishonorable.

                      Just as an aside, there are plenty of times the advice to “never take no for an answer” applies in life. When a woman is hesitant to surrender her body to you isn’t one of them. It’s not an invitation to remark on how cold it is, or how late it is, or how far home is, nor to ply her with alcohol, nor to imply she’s been leading you on or trifling with you. Even if you need to drive an hour each way late at night to get her home, if home is where she asks to be, you need to get her there, no more questions asked.

                    • Matthew B

                      Just as an aside, there are plenty of times the advice to “never take no for an answer” applies in life. When a woman is hesitant to surrender her body to you isn’t one of them.

                      The reason it is so prevalent for too many predatory guys to not accept no is because not accepting it is so effective. At the root this goes back to slut shaming and the pressure on girls / women to keep the “good girl” reputation. There are too many women who will say no when they don’t mean it, they want a chase and persuasion rather than openly give affirmative consent. These cads learn that a little pressure greatly increases their success rate. This behavior muddies consent, prosecution of assault and so on.

                      One of the goals of feminism is to end slut shaming and for women to own their sexuality. I’m 100% behind it. I believe in affirmative consent as ideal, but until the overwhelming majority of women are willing offer up consent verses playing a coy game, it’s not realistic.

                    • Chris

                      Well said, Matthew. I’ve always thought that competing social ideals that tell men they are judged by how many women they can score with and women they are judged by how “pure” they can remain can only lead to disaster. It’s a recipe for rape. That’s no excuse, obviously, but could explain the prevalence.

                  • Steve-O-in-NJ

                    You don’t seem to be popular with guys named Steve, eh?

                    • It’s true. Steve Martin, Steve Harvey, Steve Bannon and the estate of Steve McQueen all have e-mailed their objections…

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ wrote, “You don’t seem to be popular with guys named Steve, eh?”

                      Wait a minute, if that’s true then maybe my name should be Steve too, eh?

                    • Steve-O-in-NJ

                      Actually, let me amend that, because that’s just a snarky jab, and this isn’t a sitcom where the jerk with the snappy comeback always wins.

                      Seriously, Chris, I looked back at my writing here over the past two and a half or so years. Some of it I am proud of. Some of it…not so much. When you write something that’s substantive, you should be proud. When your points speak for themselves, you should be proud.

                      When you talk down to others, or get on your moral high horse, or sealion, or try to wear the other guy down by keeping the discussion going long past the point where everything that matters has been said, not so much.

                      When you throw insults, or snark, or trash talk, or threats, or imply or outright say you are going to dox, then nope.

                      Look Chris, you and I probably barely are going to agree on the color of the sky, but, like it or not, we’re going to have to share this space until Jack gets fed up with one or both of us. Substantively I think you are still not that strong, it doesn’t take a whole lot of strength or original thinking to parrot the Democratic party line. You have potential to become a strong, progressive voice, but not if all you do is repeat stuff we can already read on Huffpo or Dailykos if we really want it, throw snark, and tell those who don’t agree with you they are dangerous, bad, or whatever.

                      I’m not alone in this. Other Bill also gave you “a frank message about sex and travel” when you pushed his buttons. Zoltar’s told you off a few times. I think HT might have had a few choice words for you, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Inquiring Mind might have also. Jack and I have both hammered you. If all of this was just because we disagreed, then that’s part and parcel of disagreeing and being strong in your position. It’s not, though. It’s because you do so in an annoying and unpleasant manner that’s almost guaranteed to make the other guy mad, which accomplishes nothing.

                      Do yourself, and everyone else here a favor, actually a few favors. Slow down the posting a bit, and don’t always have to have the last word or be right. Don’t make posts that have zero original content. Don’t make posts that are ridiculous on their face (although that’s not really something you do, that’s more a valky thing). Don’t play dumb or sealion. Recognize when a thread has run its course, and in heaven’s name, man, lay off the snark and the personal attacks directed at other posters.

                      I am trying to reform my approach, and I suggest you do the same. I know I rehashed what I thought should have happened to you earlier in life and didn’t, and it wasn’t exactly “The Castle on the Hill.” I’m looking forward now, and I think you need to also. This year doesn’t have to be like the last two.

                    • Chris

                      Steve-O, thank you for the respectful and thoughtful reply.

                      I hope no one else read my comment as an implied doxxing threat—I said that he should forward his comment to the women in his life, not that I had any intention of doing so.

                      Despite the criticism, I stand by that comment. I thought of posting the same comment to Andrew, but it wouldn’t do any good. Both of them are literally justifying sexual assault and claiming that what happened here was just a normal part of young dating. That is a dangerous attitude. Even if neither of them would ever do this, if they’re saying it’s normal or a “nothingburger” then what are they teaching their sons, if they have any? What if a female friend or family member or colleague confides in them that this happened to them? Will they give them the same advice this young woman was, to keep it quiet? Will they tell her she is freaking out over nothing? That this is just what young men do? Do you see how this is a damaging attitude?

                      I suppose that I could have attacked the argument without addressing the person, as most of you have, but if we saw a commenter defending pedophilia or outright rape I think most commenters here would couple their critique with an assessment of the person making that argument. I think it is sometimes fair to do so. To me, this was one of those cases. Argue about tax policy or healthcare and as long as you’re respectful I will be too. Argue that sexual assault isn’t sexual assault and now it’s personal to me.

                      That said, I am inspired by your pledge to do better and I will make an effort to be less annoyingly confrontational when I can.

                    • I just responded to Andrew in the Morning post.

                • Steve means to say, “I do not appreciate the tenor of your personal attack, Chris, and it is neither fair nor warranted.:

              • You just lost yourself that absolutely free brand new crisp $100 bill. Better luck next time.

          • Unnecessary, disproportionate to a discussion environment, and non-responsive.

            You can do better than this.

            • But what Steve said in response to Chris’s sanctimonious shallowness rings true. I don’t think Chris can do better than that. But, since Chris is a schoolteacher, we can all hold out hope that he will control himself. But then, we see what he does here…makes me wonder how he treats students who express non-prozi views.

          • I hope you forward this comment to the women in your life so that they know they aren’t safe around you.

            Unethical comment. Ad hominem attack on a simple posting.

        • “1. He is a youth minister, not much of a position, it isn’t a teacher or employer but more of a peer.”

          Depends. There are youth in leadership positions that could be loosely classified as youth ministers. But sounds like he was the full blown Youth Pastor. That is assuredly a teaching position in addition to a counseling position. And more than that, in many denominations, the “cursus honorum” for a guy who can’t confidently take a pulpit immediately or a junior pastor position immediately is to start out in the Youth Ministry or College Ministry and get experience.

          I’ve never liked that arrangement. It puts too many young, charismatic guys in direct contact with too many young, attractive girls.

          “2. Unacceptable to take her anywhere but where she wanted to go without consent. She didn’t ask where the fuck they were going or demand he take her home?”

          Maybe she should have. But in a church, that fosters a very extended-family environment, there’s implicit trust between fellow “believers”. I recall after youth gatherings growing up, our Youth Pastor (who had been a member of our church before going to seminary and coming back, who was only about 6 or 8 years older than me), would give me and a girl a ride home. From the church it was about a 10 minute ride to my house, we literally passed a turn that would take me to my house on the way to the girl’s house which was about another 10 minutes past my house, but he’d go by every single time and drop her off first. Then he’d drop me off…then turn around and go roughly past the girl’s neighborhood to get to his house. After several iterations of this, I, naive as I was in high school, asked what gives with the zig zag route.

          He explained that he would NEVER be in a situation alone with any of the church’s girls in that context.

          “3. He stops in the woods and she doesn’t object.

          4. Her response to him pulling out his pecker is to blow him, no objections.”

          To be clear, she is wrong for not having done anything at all. But ALL of that pales into comparison with the fact that she was a minor and HE was in a position of power. That’s why the ethics hammer slams him so much harder than her, that for these evaluations, it only matters to focus on him.

          • Small and non mitigating point (my OCD keeps digging into my side)

            17 in Texas is the age of consent. Statutory rape is 16 or below, with some extenuating circumstances.

            This guy was a swine, no doubt. Our church hires married Youth pastors, of an age well beyond those they tend. Not perfect, but better that no precautions at all.

        • Steve,
          You’re full of rationalizations and assumptions.

    • Chris

      Taking one’s dick out, unsolicited, in a car that one has driven into the woods is inherently threatening, and thus sexual assault. This should be obvious.

      • Chris

        Cross-posted with Zoltar, who was more eloquent then myself, and who has promised me 100 dollars if I could go all year without responding to him.

        Zoltar, I already know that’s not going to happen, and I’ve already been tempted to respond to you multiple times since then—to agree with and compliment you. I’d rather we get along here than have a hundred dollars. Bet’s off.

      • Promised ride, unconsented detour into the woods.
        She’s trapped with no where to go
        He’s a) male 2) larger 3) older and 4) an authority figure
        He presents his sex organ unasked.
        He could easily be prosecuted for forced sexual relations. He might get off, but it’s not a stretch at all.

        Sexual assault.

        • Steve-O-in-NJ

          If the prosecutor put on his thinking cap he could add false imprisonment, lewd behavior, kidnapping (maybe), and a few other charges to the mix. Nope, this guy went wrong the moment he took that unconsented detour. His role as a pastor, an authority figure, and a man is to protect, not use women.

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            Yeah, I was thinking Savage abducted the girl. Jack knows the law, knows how to fit facts to the law, so based on what the facts seem clearly to be, I can’t argue that Savage did not assault her.

            • Remember that assault, as opposed to battery, is placing someone in fear of an imminent unpermitted touching.

              • Is what Savage and the girl did together still battery by Savage, even if Savage did not otherwise force the girl to make contact with him? Neither her nor his account of the incident seems to indicate anything contrary to her “voluntoldedly” (re-)positioning herself to contact him.
                (asking seriously – I really, really did try to understand law in class, but really, really [to my astonishment, frustration, and humiliation] had terrible difficulty actually getting it)

                • luckyesteeyoreman

                  I mean, I think it’s battery he committed, given the circumstances (namely, that he had already committed assault).

              • Not by the standard in place at that time, in Texas. Not for what she claims to have happened.

                No prosecution would have happened, as there was no physical evidence of assault and battery.

                Not saying it is right, just how it was at that time.

    • ::: Alizia crosses hereself, takes a deep breath :::

      One other octave of the newest national hysteria outbreak. It is a psychological phenomenon and seems to me to cover some deep underlying issues. I am not sure what those issues are but it seems to me more fruitful to speculate than to succumb to the psycho-emotional machinations of a nation of women with bizarre problems.

      Hysterical women come forward and spill out these ancient crimes and, Good Lord! what power they have! They resound through the whole system. The structures of the temple quiver and crack, the columns fall, and how odd to observe how the men get sucked into the rehearsals.

      My sense is that these hysterical charades playing at a national level is sort of a last-ditch effort of a kind of mind-set of ‘progressivism’ and ‘political correctness-ism’ which is now being challenged. The New Right, even among the Cucks, is making inroads. It has obviously been causing the so-called ‘progressive left’ to go into convulsions. The psychological element is fascinating. It reminds me of voodoo dances in which the participants, all excited and enraged, storm around and discharge their animus against that which they label as valid-to-be-hated. But the performance is on the verge (?) of running out of steam. Yet there are more convulsions to come. They function through these convulsions, and these convulsions are *infecting* and they pass from one person to another. Very much a group psychological drama.

      I agree with St. Andrew Wakefield on the whole. I think that the best analytical tool would be one that examines the distortions of feminism, its confusions, its power games, its Marxian undermining effort, in order to get to the inner, psychological core of a nation of very unhappy women (taken on the whole) and the men who are forced to reckon with them (or become infected with their distorting psychology and ‘act like women’ and not like men). It is one level of sickness covering another and another and another layer. The whole structure has to come undone. For 60+ years *you* have been constructing this absurd system. It is a false-structure. The entire structure as it pertains to gender, sexual orientation, sexual politics, race-relations, the lies of progressivism and the coercions of politically correct ideology: right now, today, these are collapsing before your very eyes. Yet *you* (speaking to a generality) cannot actually see what is going on, and far less is it possible that you understand any of it. Poor Cucks! Adrift in a Liberal Sea and without an oar. Oh my oh my. What’s going to happen? How will this end?

      What? Am I called to ethically adjudicate what the pastor did? Or what they girl did? Or what she ended up doing so many years later? What a strange game! She should have gotten out of the car. That simple. I reject all these ‘authority’ arguments. These are all performances by over-protected and weak women who cannot defend themselves. And if she performed the *terrible act* she did so in full capacities of her own self. Don’t be conned! Ah but when the lawyers get hold of these socio-romatic situations they can, and they do, distort things through legalisms. Kidnapping! Rape! Pile them on and see which ones stick! And what sticks depends on the emotional-psychological mood of the day. I grew up in Latin America and I know how men are. Apparently the American Girl is still learning…

      My God, this is pathetic.

      (However, I admit that I am really waiting for the Haiti-Trump-Norway rehearsal to begin! I promise to be at my very best! I’ll take on everyone … and I will win!) 😉

      Prepare your sophistries and your finest indignations, Chris!

      • St. Andrew Wakeling I meant to say…

      • Chris

        Not indignant. Just mystified by your abject hatred of your own gender.

        • Again, you are judging her by your society. Latin America plays by much different rules, just as Muslim or European ones do. This means their ethics will be different.

          Where is your tolerance, o multicultural one? /snark

          • Chris

            I am not a cultural relativist; I believe many cultures have misogynistic ideals (and other bad ideals) that should be challenged, including Muslims. I just think sealing off our country from immigrants from those cultures is the absolute worst way to solve that problem.

            • My understanding is that ethics are relative to the society one operates in. What may be ethical in one society is not in another. Judging one society (including past ones) by the ethics of your own is muddy thinking, and prone to error.

              You might as well say that the laws of one country make jaywalking illegal in another. Just not useful, helpful, or correct.

              Your immigration comment is a red herring, and not part of this discussion.

              • Chris

                I can’t believe you’ve been here as long as you have and that is still your understanding of ethics.

                The immigration point was a response to your multiculturalism jab.

                • Sorry, Items marked /snark are not intended to be taken seriously, but as a joke.

                  Please enlighten me on your understanding of what ethics are. This may help me understand where you are coming from.

                  • Chris

                    Jack’s reply should suffice.

                    • What response?

                      If you are referring to Jan 12 at 10:30 am then it is a dodge: are you asserting that contemporary American ethics trump all others, at any time of history?

                      My assertion is that ethics depends on the culture. You have not addressed that at all.

                • Ah! But there is an important point. This is a blog about very specific ethics. American ethics, and within American Liberalism. I have noticed that one reason that you are quite at home here, and one reason why your views are non-different from Jack’s (and others here), is because you come out of this system with all its specificities.

                  I do in fact believe in a hierarchy of values and principles. I do in fact believe in the superiority of one ethical system over another. I believe that this is what ‘logos’ is all about: seeing rationally and, in essence, imposing value-definitions. Yes!

                  Hyper-Liberalism destroys these hierarchies! Just as Americanism and the Americanopolis does the same. It levels, and through leveling, it degrades. Jack, this blog, and you, are progressives. I seek to define a Conservative perspective that respects hierarchies. You are American Radicals. The sooner you see this, the better.

                  (I say these things because, over time, I have come to understand this blog better. It takes me time but I think I do see it more clearly. Why is this important? Because I must oppose it and I must suggest a rational, ethical alternative. That is my object!)

            • ‘Misogyny’ is a very laden term. It is a highly politicized, highly rhetorical term. Because it is such it has to be dismantled. So, when I notice that you use this term (seemingly without awareness of the immense complexity within the term) I again notice that you function out of specific predicates. I challenge those predicates as you know. I operate against ‘ideological progressivism’ and I am — quite adamantly — an anti-Marxist. Yet you have absorbed these predicates, these terms, this perspective, and it is your ‘worldpicture’.

              Each confrontation (that you and I have) will always take shape in this way: you will react to something I say because, to you, it genuinely seems to be ‘hate’ (or Nazism or anti-Semitism or racism, et cetera). How could you be asked not to make the logical conclusions your own predicates direct you to? I could not. I could only ask you to examine your predicates and, at the very least, see there are different ways of organizing perception and in interpreting meaning & value.

              The jump-up-and-down condemnation of these *sexual criminals* is a complex rehearsal which has elaborate functions. The entire recent Hollywood performance is a terrible charade. Hollywood takes women, dresses and undresses them, elevates and degrades them, and it is part-and-parcel of America that this has gone on and that it goes on. This is a ‘system’. What comes out the other side of it is …. the pornographic industry. One step follows another. The degradation of women is a real thing. But if one really wants to oppose it, one has to oppose vast and interconnected structures that have a century-long life and existence.

              I suggest that if one wishes to examine misogyny — really and honestly — it is a worthwhile endeavor. But I will likely differ from you about what is the cause of it and how to cure it.

          • There are unethical cultures. In the end, ethics is what makes a safer, happier, healthier, more productive society. The Nazis had a culture in which genocide was “ethical.” When a society’s values lead to the destruction of that society, it is an example of an thesis disproven. Slavery was legal, but never ethical, no matter what mistaken beliefs flourished at the time. It violated basic ethical principles, even then. We learn that what was once thought right isn’t all the time. That means we also learn that it was never right, in many cases.

        • I suggest that your mistake is in the interpretation that I ‘hate” my gender. It is really very different. I see and understand my gender very differently. But this is also true in all the other categories where your judgments have risen up to condemn my views. I cannot, not really, blame you, because your judgments are logical results of your predicates. I operate from the understanding that my predicates are more realistic, less ideologically determined by PC-thinking, and for this reason more ‘true’.

          If I were to ‘demystify’ you I would certainly make the effort. And in fact this is what I do in all my responses. But ‘demystification’ is in a sense deprogramming, and deprogramming is painful and stressful to the self and the self’s established certainties.

          We create pain for ourselves when we try to force ‘false categories’ on The World. In my view a religious and spiritual perspective is a process of ‘undoing knots’ and coming to see things as they really are. I see you as one who seeks to ‘tie knots’ and to ‘bind’ with your (IMV) rigid perspectives.

          But allow me to ask: Where do you see the hate? Why hate?

  3. There are at least 3 creeps in this story:

    A. Megachurch minister Andy Savage. This incident as revealed by Jules Woodson clearly demonstrates that Savage knew what he had done to Woodson was, at the very least wrong and immoral. He has a crisis of conscience and seeks absolution from the Lord God Almighty. Good for him. I suspect that God would have said, “Hey, jerk. Apologize to her, make it right, and never, ever use my name in vain. Go away.” He told her not to discuss it with anyone. Nice guy, that. Nothing in the story reveals that he tried to make amends to her; on the contrary, everything points to him trying to cover up what he did to her.

    I would not even rate his statement as an apology, though. Note the buzz words:

    1. “As a college student”: Hey! I was young and impetuous, and my hormones got the best of me.

    2. “On staff at a church in Texas”: I was nobody important at the church, just a young buck hauling stuff for the church way over there in Texas.

    3. “More than 20 years ago” : It was a long time ago. The winds of history have clouded my memory. Don’t judge my sexual assault of a 17 year old girl by today’s standards; things were different back then! Come on!

    4. “I regretfully had a sexual incident”: I forgave myself, and you know what the Good Book says about sin, repentance and forgiveness. The Lord has forgiven me, so you should, too.

    5. “With a female high school senior in the church.” She was a senior and not some under-aged school girl. Besides, she was like an adult.

    6. “Until now, I did not know there was unfinished business with Jules”? Unfinished business? What does that mean? Unrequited love? A bad date you need to make right? Does the good pastor mean, “I thought we forgave and forgot; I guess not.”

    7. “Jules, I am deeply sorry for my actions 20 years ago.” There he goes with the 20 years ago stuff again. Why don’t we just move on. Remember: he did not say this to her on the phone or in person but on a NATIONALLY televised prayer/worship service. He tried to pull a Jimmy Swaggart or a James and Tammy Baker. (Que: Sound of bombs dropping and whistling right before detonation.) So, let me get this straight. He assaults a 17 year old, tells her to keep it quiet, and then 20 years later, he further humiliates her on national television about some unfinished business. What a jerk.

    8. “I remain committed to cooperate with you toward forgiveness and healing.” Wow. That is mighty nice of him. Great guy.

    B. Larry Cotton, an associate pastor of the church, tells her to keep quiet so they can handle it internally. I wonder what, if anything, they did to Savage. (Yeah, I know – nothing; hope springs eternal). Cotton is corrupt. He cared more about the church’s money stream than the despicable actions of a member of his ministry against congregant. Slime.

    C. Savage’s New Congregation. Why on Earth are they applauding Savage? Have they lost all sense of right, wrong. morality, ethics, or propriety? That he took some responsibility for what he did? For further humiliating someone by naming her in public all the while proclaiming his faith in the Lord? Good grief.

    * * *

    According to Torah and most western biblical tradition the Third Commandment* forbids taking the Lord’s name in vain. Most think it terms of using God’s name in a curse. It is more profound than that, though. Because of the greatness God;s name, any use of His name that brings dishonor on Him or on His character is taking His name in vain. In the Hebrew Bible, the commandment is directed against abuse of the name of God. For instance, bringing dishonor on God’s name was done by failing to perform an oath or vow taken in His name (Leviticus 19:12). One who uses God’s name to legitimize an oath, and then breaks that promise, shows a lack of reverence for God as well as a lack of fear of His holy retribution. It was essentially the same as denying God’s existence. (For a nice discussion about this, check out https://www.gotquestions.org/Lords-name-vain.html, from which I have quoted above.)

    That has been carried into Christianity in that, even though Christian tradition holds that Jesus freed us from “the law”, He did not free us from God’s laws. Jesus summed up His commandments as: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.” See, 9 Mt 22:37-40; cf. Deut 6:5; Lev 19:18.

    Savage and Cotton, and to lesser extent the applauding congregants demonstrate utter contempt for that Commandment. Savage and Cotton failed this young, impressionable congregant. Savage took advantage of his position, his authority, his standing in his church and used it as a weapon against her. He has brought scandal to his church (which supposedly represents God’s will on Earth). Cotton abused the girl’s trust by trying to over it up. Both are disgraces and should be run out of town on a rail.

    Additionally, those idiots applauding should have a reality check.

    jvb

    *Yeah, I know. Those rules are really old, given to us by Mose . . . erm . . . Charlton Heston in that movie from the ’50’s, and are now considered antiquated, pedestrian, and just plain silly. But, go with me for just a bit.

    • Excellent analysis, and the Comment of the Day.

    • I suspect that God would have said, “Hey, jerk. Apologize to her, make it right, and never, ever use my name in vain. Go away.”

      Your adjudication was thorough, but it fails around one basic point: there is no way that he could have made any apologizing effort, of any sort, to her, to her parents, nor to anyone. This is something really uniquely American and I have noticed it for some time: You do not ‘forgive’. You will never ‘forgive’.

      The culture does not ‘forgive’. Once you commit a ‘crime’, that crime is attached to you forever. Woe unto him who allows himself to be branded by a social sin and who cannot successfully evade it!

      The whole art of these *public performances* is to spin the crime in such a way that it damages you less. This occurs in a social situation that does not and will not ‘forgive’.

      If what the girls says is true, he immediately apologized for what he did, right then, right there and in that moment. That is what counted. The apology was given. Before man and before God.

      And any person who had committed (or who has committed) any passion-motivated error (I assume that there is perhaps just one here on this whole Blog? and would that person please come forward and make a complete CONFESSION?) knows that it is right after it has been done that one really does know that one made a mistake.

      • Good point, about the peculiar American cultural baggage surrounding guilt and forgiveness.

        We believe God forgives, but have a much harder time with it in our own society and lives. Forgetting is even worse!

        I have made such mistakes in my youth, where passion (zeal) led to harsh words, or unethical actions, and such. I can hope to learn and do better (thus I am at this blog: ethics per se were not taught, even in church) as I grow and mature.

        • Chris

          No one is ethically required to forgive their rapist, the “apology” was manipulation, and how does the girl know he didn’t go on to do this to other girls, and still might? She gave him the chance to respond privately and he didn’t, so she took it public. She had no other obligations to this man.

          • Did you mean to reply to me? Or to Alizia?

          • Chris writes: “No one is ethically required to forgive their rapist, the “apology” was manipulation, and how does the girl know he didn’t go on to do this to other girls, and still might? She gave him the chance to respond privately and he didn’t, so she took it public. She had no other obligations to this man.”

            Ah and there you have it Chris! Not only do you *explain* the incapacity and the unwillingness to ‘forgive’, you live out of that perspective!

            Within the Christian System (of what I take to be a distorted Protestant-Evangelism) to ask to be forgiven, and to forgive, are parts-and-parcels of that system. It is in that sense ‘a game’.

            But she does not want to ‘forgive’ him, and she seeks to do the maximum harm that she can to him, through this giant public rehearsal. He knows this though he must play within the rules of the ‘game’.

            Rehearsal is a neat word: It derives from ‘to harrow’ which is to break the ground. But it also means ‘to inflict great stress and torment on’.

            These are rehearsals that are part of a social means to ‘inflict great stress and torment’. These are participatory events and no one can remain outside of them. (See Nietzsche’s second essay in ‘Genealogy of Morals’).

          • Steve-O-in-NJ

            No one is ethically required to forgive ANYONE. There’s a big, big difference between moving past old grudges that are holding you back and saying that a past wrong is somehow ok or wiped off the books. I just got a case where the other attorney was real nasty to me a decade ago, and I intend to make his life very difficult on this case, and if he asks, why, I’ll tell him.

            • Within Christianity, and according to Christian ethics, one is required, very certainly, to forgive other’s trespasses. It is a cornerstone of the entire system, and the metaphysic.

              What is interesting is what is happening, now, in a ‘post-Christian culture’.

            • “There’s a big, big difference between moving past old grudges that are holding you back and saying that a past wrong is somehow ok or wiped off the books.”

              I disagree with this. You can simultaneously Forgive (which is wiping off the books), while still identifying that a past wrong was still wrong. Forgiveness is merely ceasing an expectation of justice or recompense to “right” the wrong.

              Moving past old grudges…if we really mean “moving past”…IS forgiveness.

  4. Chris

    As for Savage, he didn’t tell his congregation that his victim had reached out to him privately first. Would they have cheered him if he had? Oh, probably. The Lord is All Forgiving, after all. Creeps like Savage teach that, and rely on it.

    Exactly.

    As someone who grew up in church, the clapping doesn’t surprise me at all. The worse you’ve behaved in the past, the more “street cred” you have, and the sweeter your redemption is. The more awful the confession, the more applause you get. Then, of course, the victims are told to forgive, and judged harshly if they don’t. I’d hoped the culture had changed in the decade since I left it, but apparently not.

  5. How do statutes of limitations factor into this?

  6. Bad Bob

    Wow.

    So much I think I want to say, but where to start.

    Forgiveness of Christ, if one is truly repentant, is there, but the bible also says we’ll reap what we sow.

    In our society that means charges can be filed and on this earth there are penalties for such things. A youth lay minister at a church we attended molested a young man, was convicted, and went to jail. No cover up from the church, they told everyone, very publically.

    Ethical behavior from church leadership.

    What is beyond sad, pathetic really, is what church ministers in this case did.

    Nor is such cowardice unique among any position of authority; be careful if you send your kids on foreign exchange – the administrators may be just as spineless, as I found out when a friend of my wife’s much younger sister related that a Japanese girl slept at the high school rather than go back with the host family. Two weeks later they put the kid on a plane back to Japan. Since she wouldn’t press charges, the male members of the family got away with it.

    Yes, we should hold the church to a much higher standard, because of what it’s members represent and should model in terms of behavior.

    But nobody is really above it all. Take heed, lest you fall.

    Or, as my wife and I used to say and do, trust no one. Teach your kids to be wary too, titles and proclamations don’t stop anyone from poor and criminal behavior.

    • Forgiveness does not reverse the consequences for one’s actions. God can have grace, this is true, but the more usual route is to suffer through the wounding you inflicted on yourself.

      A girl, for example, might have sex just once, and get pregnant out of wedlock. God will forgive her if she asks, but she still has to deal with the consequence: a child.

  7. Andrew Wakeling

    Not sure I have enough blood pressure medication to dare get overly involved in this, but:

    First of all I must stress I only have what you have written and there may be a lot more to this case than meets the eye. I can only work from the general impression.

    Your approach, Jack and others, seems to me to be grossly damaging prospects for adult women escaping ever patronising paternalism. It verges on insulting. You are heading in the wrong direction. The wonderful young women who pushed in the 1970s for ‘liberation’ ( like Germaine Greer) must be aghast. They refused to be victims, and rebelled against the notion that they were scared little flowers needing protection from big bad men. They certainly didn’t want their Dads or brothers chaperoning them, or interfering adults telling them who they could travel in a car with.

    To the extent that anyone listens to you, you risk damaging the prospects for young men and young women forming healthy relationships. Young men have pressured and always will pressure young women towards physical contact. The 17 year old women I grew up with knew this well, and most were pretty competent at managing it all.

    Recent developments in the law seem to have trampled over common sense definitions. ‘Assault’ in the world I grew up in required ‘coercion’ and some application of physical force. Typical evidence were bruises and broken bones. Unzipping your fly in company might well be rude, unpleasant or insulting but in itself it is not ‘assault’. It used to be called ‘indecent behaviour’.

    You must surely unsettle many men like me, who many years ago (40+ for me) did ‘persuade’ their girlfriends into the back row of the cinema, and / or the back room at the church youth club. I was clumsy and found it very hard to undo a bra clip with one hand ……. but I certainly tried hard. I never asked permission, and I certainly never got a signed waiver. Fortunately I am not conscious of any complaints being made, and I suspect the young women I remember (Oh Brenda ……!) have long forgotten me. More to the point, they were all strong, opinionated and breath takingly gorgeous and took pride in fighting their own battles. I adored them all, largely from a distance rather greater than I would have liked.

    Ah, just before posting. This must be the Russians again! We’ve agreed ‘trust’ is declining and you can’t trust anything on the internet, even EA. The clue is in the report from the woman: “Suddenly, Andy unzipped his jeans and pulled out his penis. ……. I was in shock and I didn’t understand what was happening. I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me.” Really!!! Well done Karla. You nearly had me going. Perhaps I don’t need the blood pressure medication after all.

    • 1) This is a good argument to make about the increasing attempts to criminalize the forming of fledgling sexual relationships, but not in this case.

      2) The issue is abuse of power, undue influence, and lying. It does not reflect on ethical, normal, appropriate and respectful interactions at all.

      3) I know you’re a smart man, so I don’t understand why you would think what happens on a date is relevant to what is done to a woman when she thinks she is getting a ride home from a trusted moral leader.

      4) From this I presume that you see no ethics foul in Louis CK “whipping it out” to female visitors in his hotel room.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        Or Bill Clinton pulling his pants down in front of women escorted before him and telling them to kiss his genitals.

      • Chris Marschner

        Jack, I don’t discount you analysis but I tend toward leaning in favor of Andrew’s thinking. Their are a couple of passages in her statement that lead me to believe that the young lady may have left out some relevant facts or has selective memory.

        Within her statement, in the paragraph preceding the one you included was the following: “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.

        (important passage) 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.”

        Why was she feeling special and excited, as in her mind, he wanted to spend more time with her? If she did not have a crush on him why would she feel special and excited? The line that really struck me was her statement following her admission of engaging in oral sex – ” I remember feeling that this must mean that Andy loved me.” This is an indicator of her inclination of feelings toward him. Any other female without such an inclination of affection would not interpret this as love.

        Another earlier statement was this: “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.” Andy at that point had three choices: Leave her there alone; have her call a parents to come and get her; or drive her himself. He made the choice to drive her because he too wanted to be with her. A choice most young men would make themselves. Leaving her without a ride would be cruel and calling her parents would seem uncool.

        Logic would dictate that a church official would be the last to leave but why did she stay after all the other kids had left if she had no other way home other than Andy? Was this orchestrated to spend alone time with Andy? I don’t know but it is plausible.

        This passage also struck me. “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.”

        Why does she feel anger at being manipulated and used? Is it because her feelings toward him are unrequited love?

        She swore not to tell to get him to stop? Stop what, his out of control emotional epiphany that he just had. Perhaps she swore not to tell because she did not want her parents to know what she was doing.
        So, who seems to be in control? Who has the power? she remembers him on his knees with his hands on his head begging for forgiveness. Pleading with her not to tell anyone.

        Yes, Andy did not recount all the lurid details in his televised apology. But I don’t think that is deceit. What would be gained by restating that which had already been made public. Such details are not necessary to the nature of the apology unless you want to truly rehash all the events and embarrass the other. Should it have been televised? I don’t think so but in light of the me too movement which prompted her well publicized statement it might make sense given that she already had gone public naming him, and others by full name.

        When she confided in the other two pastors what did she expect them to do? Should they announce the incident to the parishioners? What did her parents want them to do after they told them about the incident? Was her despair rooted in an adolescent’s loss of a love, one that did not seem to be as affected emotionally as she? I don’t know. What I do know is when relationships go south people are hurt and recall things very differently usually making the other person the villain. I am also sure that we cannot automatically characterize any person as a sexual predator by one known incident and we should not suggest that there may be others by virtue of one account.

        • You, like Andrew, are bending over so far backward you might snap.
          In no particular order:

          1. She trusted the man, as she had been led to. When someone you trust says “it’s a suprise”, you don’t think, “Hmmm, maybe he’s driving me to a secluded place where he can pull his wang out and tell me to suck it.”

          2. Yes, young people are flattered when they get attention and what seems like afaction from authority figures. That’s how priests molest children. They are manipulated and exploited, as was she.

          3. “Perhaps she swore not to tell because she did not want her parents to know what she was doing.
          So, who seems to be in control? Who has the power? she remembers him on his knees with his hands on his head begging for forgiveness. Pleading with her not to tell anyone.”

          Again, he was manipulating her. No, she had no power at all.

          4. I guarantee most of the congregation has not read her blog post.

          5. “When she confided in the other two pastors what did she expect them to do?” She was 17. She didn’t know; she didn’t have to know. Protect her. Be responsible. I would expect a leave of absence, an investigation, and some action. That’s their job. He may have been a serial predator.

          “Should they announce the incident to the parishioners?” No. If the investigation supported her, he should be dismissed and other Churches should be warned. He should be reported to authorities.

          “What did her parents want them to do after they told them about the incident?” They didn’t. He gave them the impression that he kissed her.

          • Chris marschner

            Not trying to bend over backwards to excuse anyone. I do recognize however that we are hearing only one side. We do not know what was in her email that cued up his public statements.

            What I see Andrew as saying is that we view the confluence of events happening as we have been told which is consistent with our general belief that older males are always the aggressor. This is part of how we were inculturated but sexual norms have changed among later generations. Even in 1974 when I was a senior in high school there was a game played by female students on the boys. They would ask if you wanted to play chicken which consisted of them placing their hand on the boy’s inner thigh and the boy’s hand was placed on the girl’s thigh each slowly moving it toward their genitals. Whoever quit first was chicken. The purpose was to arouse an erection. The boys who pulled away would get ribbed for chickening out. Not all girls did this but enough for me to know about it by seeing it play out in the classroom daily by different kids is enough evidence for me.

            There was considerable research conducted during the time frame shown involving the prevalence of sexual activity among teens and preteens. Some, indicated girls felt empowered by giving oral gratification while others didn’t even think it constituted as sex. In the late 90’s the Washington Post did a story about the high rates of oral copulation occurring among high school girls.

            My point is that simply must treat both genders equally and not simply assume that males accused of impropriety should be convicted based only on the word of a female because we impute upon the male the proclivity to inflict physical harm thus absolving females from any personal responsibility.

            Tomorrow I will create and send you a rewrite of the statement she made but instead it will be written from Andy’s 22 year old perspective. Assuming presumptive virtue according to gender is a form of confirmation bias.

            • Chris

              No one is arguing to “convict” him, and your “maybe she isn’t telling the truth” argument is a red herring. The argument put forth by Andrew and others is that even if she is telling the truth, what happened wasn’t sexual assault. That’s obviously wrong, for the reasons Jack has articulated. Jack has also left open the possibility that she isn’t telling the full truth, but has pointed out that the man’s actions would still be unethical even if she consented, a stance that has nothing to do with their genders.

              • Again, you are judging by current standards and laws. Sexual assault is a CRIME, and was even then. We view her story as sexual assault by our current understanding, but it did not rise to this at that time. It was unethical no matter the circumstances, by the ethics of the time. Any sexual contact out of wedlock was.

                Stipulated, that should this story happen today, laws and mores are such that it would be assault. Maybe this is where we are talking past one another?

                When you keep insisting it was assault, do you mean by our current society? That would be correct.

                • Chris

                  I mean that it was sexual assault by any objective and honest ethical assessment. And slavery was a human rights violation; that many people at the time didn’t see it as that doesn’t change the fact of what it was.

            • Great exercise, and looking forward to it.
              But if Andrew had been Andrea, a larger, older, stronger youth minister with the keys to the car and Jules had been a 17-year-old boy, with all the facts unchanged, my commentray would be identical. Gender bias has nothing to do with the episode of the issues involved.

  8. Points of fact:
    1. We know that there was some kind of sexual contact between the Pastor and the student because the Pastor openly admitted to the fact.

    2. We do not know if absolutely everything the woman shared is factually correct.

    3. We do not know if there are other facts that the woman intentionally omitted from the encounter.

    4. We do not know all the conditions that lead to the contact.

    What we do can do from the what we do know is reasonably and confidently state that the Pastor abused his position of authority and that, if the accounts from the woman are 100% accurate and there are not other facts or mitigating circumstances we do not know, this was certainly a case of sexual assault.

    Based on the Pastors behavior back when it happened and now, I’m guessing there are additional skeletons in the closet of this pastor.

    • luckyesteeyoreman

      “I’m guessing there are additional skeletons in the closet of this pastor.”

      I am guessing the same. If I had been among the church group that applauded, I am fairly sure that instead of applauding, I would have attempted to approach Savage privately afterward and simply ask him what he intends to DO in follow-up to his admission. I would listen carefully to his reply, and then, without speaking of my encounter with Savage, I would speak with one or more other pastors in the church (again, privately) to ask them what, if anything, they intend to do in follow-up. I would admit that my trust in the leadership of the local church would be damaged, probably irreparably, if that leadership did not take noticeable actions regarding Savage’s admitted breach of trust. I would have to at least consider becoming a member of a different local church.

  9. Scott GF

    Thinking out load here so bare with me:

    Did she say “No”?
    I missed it if she did.
    If she didn’t, then I having a difficult time and it appears like consent with post action regret.
    I did read the story about his congregation applauding his admission of guilt which I do not understand and it verifies my lack of faith in organized religions.

    I am missing some of the needed information of the event.
    Were they flirty with each other prior to this? Or was this an “out of the blue” predatory action by this guy? That changes the dynamic.

    All appearances seem to indicate he took advantage of this situation (and his stature and a “shepherd”) and manipulated a younger and naïve girl.

    I still don’t understand how a man wipes out his “digger”, a very sensitive and fragile thing, and offers it up without getting hurt. I women I have dealt with wouldn’t have put up with that kind of bullshit and a trip to the ER would have taken place.

    • Chris

      My god.

      A young girl, in a car with an older man in a position of authority within the church, drives her into the woods, and whips it out.

      And you think that’s consensual as long as she didn’t say “No?” The prospect that she may be too afraid to say “No” doesn’t occur to you, even though she already said that she was?

      You don’t know how the women you know would react to that.

    • Did she say “No”?
      I missed it if she did.

      She may have said, “Aiiiiiiiiiii!!!!!” So what? The act itself is an implied threat, lewd behavior, and if she did not consent beforehand, then she did not consent.

      If she didn’t, then I having a difficult time and it appears like consent with post action regret.

      Oh, come on. It’s isn’t THAT difficult. He has sufficient power over her—car, woods, age, size, position—that consent would not be deemed voluntary, but coerced with duress.

    • Steve-O-in-NJ

      Meh, easy to say after the fact, and I’m sorry, but that statement that the women you know would have sent this guy’s family jewels through the top of his head ranks right up there with those alcohol-fueled stories we’ve all told at parties about how we would have kicked this or that guy’s ass. If we really were going to do it, we would have…and had to take the consequences.

      I came dangerously close to physically going after a rude coworker this year, and was told in no uncertain terms what would have followed if I had (the coworker was also told cut it out and we mean it). Kind of makes you think twice about talking about that kind of thing so casually. I might add fighting back doesn’t mean you always win. Sometimes you have no choice, but it’s dangerous to take the attitude that you’ll send anyone who crosses you to the hospital.

      • Steve-O-in-NJ

        P.S. Some folks even think it’s funny when a woman threatens to do harm, particularly to her partner. I’m personally acquainted with one woman who’s an RN who told her husband he better not mess with her if he hopes to wake up the next morning, implying that she will inject him with deadly drugs while he’s asleep, and another couple where the woman is part Cherokee and told her bf “you better do as I say or I’ll scalp you.”

        Tell me, why is it funny then, but not so funny if a husband who’s a Special Forces vet tells his wife she better do as she’s told because he knows 12 different ways to kill her with only his hands, or an Italian guy tells his woman she needs to obey like in the old country or he’ll smack her around just like in the old country?

        • Chris

          I think it’s because we don’t expect women to actually physically abuse their husbands. I don’t know if abuse of women by men in a relationship is truly more common than the reverse, but society certainly seems to treat it as such, and thus the idea of a woman attacking their husband strikes many as more humorous than as genuinely threatening.

          Of course, female-on-male abuse does exist and should be treated more seriously.

          • Matthew B

            In terms of rates of abuse, many studies point to comparable rates between men and women as perpetrators of abuse. What stands out is the rate of harm. Men vastly out-do women in terms harm, including killing their partner. It’s something like a 5:1 ratio of men hurting women vs. the reverse. In many cases of battering, the man is just so much better able to effectively fend off an attack. But as Steve-O points out with a couple of examples, there are ways to fight unfairly. A sleeping guy isn’t able to mount an effective response. Because of the difference in ratios, people in both genders dismiss female abuse, or worse make jokes about it. That’s totally unfair to those men who are indeed harmed.

            Make of this what you will, regarding the rates of abuse: about 1 in 3 hetero women have suffered abuse at the hand of an intimate partner. Lesbians have an over 50% rate. Gay men have under 1 in 6. It does make you wonder where the real problem is…

  10. We still only have one side of the story. I am not saying the pastor gets a pass: he bears guilt since he admits to something

    But the interactions before and after the fact may be wrong, if not malicious.

    Why bring this up now? There could be no ‘justice’ and if the pastor was not now prominent this would never have come up. In that respect, this smells like #metoo given the timing.

    The girl was a victim. How much of one we cannot know, as others have mentioned here. There may be many facts not disclosed that show this in a different light. Must the woman be believed, in all particulars?

    Look, we have her story, and his admission that something happened. We do not know of omissions, misremembered, or any outright lies. She could have agreed to the side trip, and now (for whatever motive) says otherwise. We don’t know

    Given the story we DO know, Jack is correct IMHO. I am just uncomfortable with the quick judgement I am seeing, without questioning the story of one side.

  11. Sarah B.

    I think there are a number of questions that need to be asked in tandem to determine if this is really as bad as you say, Jack. Should the congregation have applauded? HELL NO!!! Should he be disciplined? No more or less than Al Franken should have been disciplined at this time.

    1) Did she ever say “no.” (Stop it, I don’t want this, etc) I was raised to understand that if I did not say no, it was not assault. (Obvious exceptions to any use of weaponry or direct threats.) There are many people out there who have a overbearing sense of their own attractiveness and charisma. Her stating that she thought these actions meant he liked her indicate to me that he may have thought that she was ok with this. I have always understood that, no matter the scenario, (unless my life would be in obvious danger) if I do not say no, I am silently consenting. It does take guts to say no to something I don’t want, but if I cannot look after myself, why do I complain about something done in the past. (As a side note, if she said, “I don’t like this,” and he continued, I think we can all agree that he’s essentially the scum of the earth.)

    2) Was she flirting with him? When I was a freshman in high school twenty years ago, I knew of senior girls that would, when flirting with a boy, joking offer fellatio with an expectation that they wouldn’t be taken seriously, using slang and round-about ways to say it so that they could always claim that they didn’t mean it if he thought they were serious. They would also hold conversations in earshot of boys they liked to the effect of, “I’d blow any guy who loved me or I’d love to 69 with a cute guy.” Did she take a similar tactic?

    3) What about the statement that she made, “I remember feeling that this must mean Andy loved me?” If she is thinking this, then there is an easy argument for consent. She states right here that she was interested. A girl who is interested often expects to be wooed, and some men woo by forcing situations. I know women who have said they fantasized about an alpha male (think 50 Shades of Grey) coming onto them since twenty or more years ago, and so did some of my high school acquaintances.

    4) Did he misunderstand consent? If number two occurred or number one did not, he may really have thought it consensual, but some Christians understand blow jobs to fall under the “sin of Onan” for which God killed the guy. In addition, petting is often considered a sin as well. Perhaps he thought that things were consensual and his prayer for forgiveness and plea for silence was less for forcing her, and more for the sexual sin he felt he committed.

    5) What was he asking secrecy for? Consensual actions could be the sexual incident that he was embarrassed of, instead of assault. I have a friend who was a youth pastor, and she wouldn’t tell her congregation of her past sexual sins, which included a number of flirty incidents and sex before marriage. When some people found out that she had sex outside of marriage and that she had committed “lewd sexual acts other than intercourse” with boys, her statement that she had changed was not enough. She was thrown out immediately. That could have prompted him to ask for silence.

    5) Was he a youth minister or a youth pastor? Both terms have been thrown around, and they mean different things to different people. For the sake of this discussion, I will define terms as I understand them. A youth pastor is a position of authority, like an assistant pastor but with significantly less power. A youth minister, especially one who is that young, has no authority, but instead helps around and is only a visible symbol of youth involvement. If he were, by these definitions, a pastor, it would be assault because of his power. If he were a minister, however, he has no authority to abuse to make it assault. It would still be a scandal, but no more than a senior dating a freshman, since the senior should know better.

    6) Did her opinion of the event change? If he were but a youth minister as I understand the term, and she were over the age of consent, especially considering the, “I thought he loved me” comment, it could be a case of what was acceptable to her then, but is no longer acceptable now.

    6) Did she follow up at all with her email? Spam filters being what they are, a known email sending me a fudge recipe still routinely gets into my junk mail. Any unknown senders are automatically denied. A call or letter is far more likely to be read than an email by someone outside your known addresses, especially with any mention of anything sexual in the email. I am aware of filters that people (especially those associated with teaching or clergy) use to take those items directly to junk or trash.

    7) What did he learn from this? If he was nothing other than a horny boy, did this scare him straight or did he learn that he could keep things quiet?

    With these items in mind, I can see a reasonable course for him to have taken. A guy with an overblown ego takes a cute girl to a secluded spot, like nearly all guys do when they want to fool around. Then there are no interruptions and the couple can have a good time without rumors or fathers/brothers getting involved. The girl initially thinks that he likes her, and so goes along with it, not saying anything. She may even act with a certain amount of enthusiasm, feigned or not, because of her belief that he loved her. He suddenly realizes that this isn’t a good idea. He begs absolution from God, not her, because he doesn’t think that he has done anything wrong to her, just God. She is shocked out of her fantasy that he likes her by this behavior and she reports it, despite him asking her not to screw up his life by reporting that a youth minister with no power, but pastoral dreams has taken sexual action outside of marriage. She then lets it go until the #MeToo movement and sends him an email that his spam filters block. Then he makes an honest confession, because he still doesn’t understand what he did wrong, perhaps even because he didn’t do anything wrong.

    Conversely, he could be a guy who took a girl to a secluded spot so she couldn’t say no. He used his power as a youth pastor to convince her to play with him, and then decided to protect himself when his prefrontal cortex finally overwhelmed the amygdala, by pretending to beg God for forgiveness and asked her to keep silent. He has since hidden this (and perhaps others) to gain power rather than humbling himself to accept the consequences of his actions.

    Either way is possible, and so are a variety of positions in the middle. I tend to fall more toward the sympathy to the man, rather than the woman, because we women generally have not taken personal responsibility for our own actions and the innuendos we use for a long time. Of course, this does not excuse predators, but I think too many men are becoming the targets of women. Women who speak in innuendos, give flirty signs, and never say no allow men to get them in bad situations because they have given him no reason to think that they weren’t serious about wanting sexual encounters. This, to me, has many potential hallmarks of being such a scenario.

    • Chris

      1) Did she ever say “no.” (Stop it, I don’t want this, etc) I was raised to understand that if I did not say no, it was not assault. (Obvious exceptions to any use of weaponry or direct threats.) There are many people out there who have a overbearing sense of their own attractiveness and charisma. Her stating that she thought these actions meant he liked her indicate to me that he may have thought that she was ok with this. I have always understood that, no matter the scenario, (unless my life would be in obvious danger) if I do not say no, I am silently consenting. It does take guts to say no to something I don’t want, but if I cannot look after myself, why do I complain about something done in the past. (As a side note, if she said, “I don’t like this,” and he continued, I think we can all agree that he’s essentially the scum of the earth.)

      I am sorry you were taught this way. What you were taught about consent was wrong and dangerous. The onus is not on a victim of sexual assault to say “No.” The onus is on the initiator to read physical and verbal cues, and to respond appropriately. Leaning in for a kiss is one thing, and can sometimes be justified as simply misreading a situation; whipping it out unsolicited, or even asking someone you are in a position of power over beforehand like Louis C.K. did, can never be considered consensual.

      I know women who didn’t say “No.” They were assaulted and raped. Whether someone who is scared says “No” is absolutely irrelevant to whether they were assaulted.

      • Proper progressive narrative, Chris.

        How about judging by the times when the incident was committed, instead of our current understanding of such things? This is judging without knowing the facts, just a one sided story. Sarah has good points about human interactions that you ignored, while condescending and preaching to her in your reply.

        I know women who did not say ‘no’ as well. Were they all assaulted and raped? What if they wanted it at the time, but later decided it was unwanted? How are we to judge motivations, especially 20 year old ones?

        I know women who did say ‘no,’ and the interaction stopped cold. They knew that it was unlikely that the man would kill them, and thus had the power to protest, if not physically stop the advances. The man knew that there would be consequences (even if he killed her, to go to the extreme case) and stopped. This is normal human interaction, with enlightened self interest on both sides.

        You make it as if men are the only predators, and as if women are helpless victims in every situation. This is insulting in both cases.

        • Chris

          If “Know how to read social cues before whipping it out” is nothing but a “proper progressive narrative,” then what does that say about the conservative narrative, slick?

          My position is identical to Jack’s. Is he just touting a progressive narrative?

          How about judging by the times when the incident was committed, instead of our current understanding of such things?

          Whipping it out unsolicited has never been considered appropriate in the United States. Consent hasn’t changed, though people’s understanding of it certainly has; I don’t know if what this pastor did was considered sexual assault by the law in the late 90s, when this event occurred. But it was still sexual assault.

          This is judging without knowing the facts, just a one sided story.

          I’m saying that if the alleged victim’s story is true, then what happened was assault. Sarah is saying that even if the alleged victim’s story is true, it may not have been assault. This is incorrect.

          I know women who did not say ‘no’ as well. Were they all assaulted and raped? What if they wanted it at the time, but later decided it was unwanted?

          If they wanted it, then no, they were not assaulted and raped.

          • “If “Know how to read social cues before whipping it out” is nothing but a “proper progressive narrative,” then what does that say about the conservative narrative, slick?”

            Strawman, not what Sarah or I said, at all. We have said that the whole story may not be in evidence, and that there is a possibility that this was consensual at the time. Whipping it out may never have happened. We agree if the story is true, though.

            “My position is identical to Jack’s. Is he just touting a progressive narrative?”

            I was not commenting on your position, but your preachy answer. As to the sexual assault assertion: If the pastor was paid by the church, I will agree to de facto sexual harassment, if an incident occurred at all.

            This was not sexual assault by the laws and conventions in Texas at that time (I lived in the area at that time, and not too far from the church in question.) Judging people by our current mores and understanding is a mistake. People are a product of the society they lived in, and ethical choices stem from that society, not our current standards. I stipulate that this was not acceptable behavior by that society, either, and the story alone would have gotten the pastor’s butt kicked had the girl’s male relatives found out, and even if the girl instigated it. This also was not right, but the way it was. Note that the girl’s reputation would have suffered greatly, even if she was raped, as sex out of wedlock was a scandal at that time in that area (albeit that that was changing rapidly.)

            “If they wanted it, then no, they were not assaulted and raped.”

            We are closer to agreement than I thought. I took your comments further than you intended, as happens in these debates. Thank you for clearing that up.

            There IS a move to brand past sexual interaction as ‘rape’ even if it was consensual at the time, sometimes years later. Many college boys have been persecuted on the say-so of the girl, when the contact was, at best, mutual at the time. Some progressives have even gone so far as to call married men rapists, as in ‘all sex is rape.’

    • Well thought out, Sarah. Personal responsibility is a forgotten art, and we don’t know the facts.

      • Sarah B.

        Thank you. I saw too much of this kind of crap in high school, where girls would get themselves into all kinds of trouble by saying stupid stuff to the wrong people, acting recklessly, and never speaking out until it was too late. It leaves me cynical.

        My favorite example was a girl who always said that she wanted to sleep with a particular guy. She didn’t care who heard her. Then he invites her to his house (they weren’t dating). He slept with her and she kept quiet, thinking he liked her. A few months later, she starts talking about how he raped her, because she didn’t like him anymore and realized that he just wanted a cheap lay. In her case, she wasn’t believed because we all knew what she had to say before the incident and we didn’t have to search our memories for what really happened. The #MeToo movement seems to forget that we women aren’t all stereotypical genteel ladies and that most men aren’t all stereotypical brutes.

    • I’d love to know how many times I have emphasized this what should obvious and unremarkable principle in posts and comments. Yet one would think I am advocating that turning lead into gold is feasible.

    • A. Should he be disciplined? No more or less than Al Franken should have been disciplined at this time.

      The post didn’t say he should be disciplined, based on what we know

      B. She should not have been placed in that position, and thus should not have to say “no” to invalidate what is already unacceptable conduct. As I have written here more than once, this is duress and coercion. She cannot genuinely consent.

      C.”2) Was she flirting with him?” It doesn’t matter. He was in a position of trust, and is obligated not to allow these lines to be crossed. Was Monica flirting with Bill? I don’t care.

      D. “3) What about the statement that she made, “I remember feeling that this must mean Andy loved me?” If she is thinking this, then there is an easy argument for consent. She states right here that she was interested. A girl who is interested often expects to be wooed, and some men woo by forcing situations. I know women who have said they fantasized about an alpha male (think 50 Shades of Grey) coming onto them since twenty or more years ago, and so did some of my high school acquaintances.”

      NONONONO. Children being raped by their fathers say the same thing. Not consent. Manipulation, exploitation, abuse of power, trust and position. Your standards would be a gift to every sexual predator.

      E. 4) Did he misunderstand consent? Ugh. He isn’t allowed to ASK for consent.

      F. Both roles are authority figures; the technicalities don’t matter to those who trust him. This is a legalistic argument that has no ethical significance. If he was any kind of leader or allied to a leader, that’s enough.

      G. “A guy with an overblown ego takes a cute girl to a secluded spot, like nearly all guys do when they want to fool around.”

      Without asking her? Ethics Foul. Showing his private parts? Massive Ethics Foul, and criminal. TELLING her to perform oral sex? Coercion.

      G. “6) Did she follow up at all with her email?” An email competence issue. Yes, she should have taken steps to enure that he read the message. A return receipt would have been wise.

      • Chris

        C.”2) Was she flirting with him?” It doesn’t matter. He was in a position of trust, and is obligated not to allow these lines to be crossed. Was Monica flirting with Bill? I don’t care.

        I think this matters to some extent. Flirting isn’t an invitation to whip one’s pecker out, until it is. If she consented, then the encounter wasn’t assault, even though it was still unethical, and the consent issue is murky given the relative ages and positions of power. What Bill did to Monica was an abuse of power, and Jack has convinced me it was sexual harassment, but it wasn’t assault. What happened here was harassment. If the girl had said “Let’s go to the woods so I can blow you,” the youth leader would still have been engaging in harassment by acquiescing to that request from someone under his guidance. But it wouldn’t be assault. As it stands, if the girl’s account is true, this was definitely assault.

      • Sarah B.

        I respectfully disagree that the difference between youth minister and youth pastor is nothing but a technicality. In my parish, there is no youth pastor, but our youth minister has essentially no power. She (in my case) has the power to present movies to the pastor for movie nights but not decide if there will be , she has the power to post the pastor’s decisions of the website, and she has the responsibility to call the webmaster if the site goes down. She has no other power in the parish at all, and isn’t even expected to deal with the children in any sense. The parish encourages parents to call her if the site goes down. That is all. Does the fact that an organized religion gives a person a title, even a title that is not designed to confer power grant a person power? This seems silly, since I currently have the “head musician” title, which confers more power and responsibility than that youth minister position, after all, I get to chose songs and their tempos each week with strict oversight, which leaves me with no power over minors, unless a minor hates singing a song at 130 bpm instead of 126 bpm or vice versa or would prefer “Amazing Grace” over “Holy God We Praise Thy Name.”

        Without power this becomes a clumsy but common failed seduction. While I dislike the method, it was hardly an uncommon occurrence in my high school days between a college boy and high school girl, even with the unasked for detour, which was considered a good sign of spontaneity. There is only a five year age difference, which can be argued either way for whether or not there is coercion, but she is above the age of consent, at least in my state. I can agree that it is unethical, but if there is no power and there is flirting to muddle consent, can this really be assault when (Golden Rationalization here) everyone’s doing it? As Chris said, flirting is no excuse to pull out your member, until it is. Just so, flirting is no excuse to go to a deserted location, until it is.

  12. charlesgreen

    Am I the only one on this website who has been observing an apparent increase in the instances of comity and civility amongst the commenters?

    You putting something in the water supply, Jack? Inserting subliminal cues in the posts?

    Whatever, it’s a good thing, imho.

  13. Steve-O-in-NJ

    “…would get themselves into all kinds of trouble by saying stupid stuff to the wrong people, acting recklessly, and never speaking out until it was too late.”

    A key piece of context in most if not all situations that go bad, not just those involving intimate relationships. If you say you would like to teach someone a lesson physically, don’t be surprised if that eventually reaches his ears and he confronts you and challenges you to a fight. If you say you think this guy is hot or whatever, don’t be surprised if it reaches his ears and he decides to use that to his advantage. If you say you think this girl is cute, don’t be surprised if she hears and decides to breadcrumb you.

    I experienced or saw all of this when I was middle school/high school age. I had spoken ill of a jerky classmate behind his back, or course it reached his ears, he attacked me on the playground, and it was a pretty ugly fight, resulting in some pretty bad injuries on both sides (stitches, broken nose, concussion, corneal damage). As you might guess, the authorities were pretty angry, they were angrier still at me for opening my mouth, others for passing it along, and at the other guy for taking it to the next level. Suspensions all around, ranging from one day for me, two days for the blabbermouths, and three for the guy who took it physical. I would have been better off just keeping my mouth shut, like it or not that was the domino that started everything going.

    Yup, I knew of at least two girls who expressed interest in guys to their friends. Both ended up losing the big V before the age of 15 to the objects of their attention, and then being discarded like gum wrappers. One guy left the system for private school and moved on to a girlfriend from a more established (i.e. rich) family, the other was just looking for an easy lay and never spoke to the girl afterward.

    I’m also aware of a geek type who expressed interest quietly in a girl who was better looking, but not as out of his league as a cheerleader. She played him like a tune, having him do her homework for her, get her the answers to tests, and give her what money he had had (from shoveling snow, mowing lawns, and doing what odd jobs he could get), never once letting him lay a hand on her, but always holding out the possibility for just one more favor, just one more favor. Summer hit, he went on vacation with his family then to Scout camp, she went to music camp. She met some good-looking drummer, and I think you know where the rest of this goes. Actually not quite – when she found herself struggling with geometry about a year after that she approached the geeky guy with “I know I’ve been kinda busy for a while, but I was hoping…” To his credit, the guy had grown a spine and told her to use someone else. He still wound up on the short end of the stick, however, as the girl went to her drummer bf and told him this other guy had made a pass at her, and we all know what comes after that. The geek should have just kept quiet from the get-go, and avoided the humiliation, pain, abuse and ultimately the beating that came from all that.

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