Should Churches Handle Sexual Abuse Allegations Internally?


Many observers were troubled when Andy Savage, a pastor at Highpoint Church in Memphis, received a standing ovation from his congregation for his admission of a “sexual incident” with a 17-year-old high-school student when he was a youth leader at Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church in Texas. They have reason to be troubled.

Though the congregation was probably unaware that the woman involved described the “incident” as an assault, at least one pastor at Woodlands and the leaders of Highpoint were aware. The alleged victim claimed that Larry Cotton, an associate pastor of Woodlands at the time, urged her to stay quiet about what happened. And only after the alleged victim made the case public did Highpoint’s pastor Chris Conlee admit that the information was not new to him or to the church leadership. Conlee went on to support Savage and his continued ministry at Highpoint Church.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for churches and religious organizations to try to handle sexual assault allegations internally  . . . 

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  • John Nesbella
    commented 2018-02-05 07:13:45 -0600
    So if someone is sexually molested in my home does this mean I should be allowed to handle the investigation “internally” and lie and cover up when the police find out? Maybe I will just start my own church so that I can molest children and handle it all internally!

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