Stonebridge Pastor Steve Bradley: Resign for failing to report Andy Savage sexual abuse!
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In the Spring of 1998, Woodlands Parkway Baptist Church Pastor Steve Bradley was informed by Associate Pastor Larry Cotton that Youth Pastor Andy Savage had committed graphic sexual, indecent acts with a parishioner: 17 yr. old Jules Woodson. Andy Savage later lied about the severity of the incident, describing it to Bradley as simply an inappropriate kiss. Rather than immediately suspending Savage, Bradley allowed him to conduct a two day sexual purity conference hypocritically called "True Love Waits". Only after Woodson later told her Bible Study small group about the incident was Savage held to any measure of accountability by Bradley. Rather than immediately terminating him, Steve Bradley covered up his misconduct by stating he was voluntarily stepping down due to an inappropriate kiss. The church gave Savage a tearful goodbye service, never rebuking him publicly for the sexual assault, or for lying to the church.
Texas state law requires the reporting of sexual incidents between a minor and those in pastoral ministry:
Texas Penal Code Chapter 5. (22.011)
Title 5. Offenses against the person.
Chapter 22. Assaultive Offenses.
Sec. 22.011. Sexual assault.
(b) A sexual assault [...] is without the consent of the other person if: [...] 10) the actor is a clergyman who causes the other person to submit or participate by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual adviser …
Texas Penal Code 22.011(b)(9): “by exploiting [the patient or former patient's] . . . emotional dependency”; and (b)(10) “by exploiting the other person’s emotional dependency on the clergyman in the clergyman’s professional character as spiritual advisor”
Texas mandatory reporting law states:
Sec. 261.101. PERSONS REQUIRED TO REPORT; TIME TO REPORT. (a) A person having cause to believe that a child's physical or mental health or welfare has been adversely affected by abuse or neglect by any person shall immediately make a report as provided by this subchapter.
(b) If a professional has cause to believe that a child has been abused or neglected or may be abused or neglected, or that a child is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code, and the professional has cause to believe that the child has been abused as defined by Section 261.001, the professional shall make a report not later than the 48th hour after the hour the professional first suspects that the child has been or may be abused or neglected or is a victim of an offense under Section 21.11, Penal Code. A professional may not delegate to or rely on another person to make the report. In this subsection, "professional" means an individual who is licensed or certified by the state or who is an employee of a facility licensed, certified, or operated by the state and who, in the normal course of official duties or duties for which a license or certification is required, has direct contact with children. The term includes teachers, nurses, doctors, day-care employees, employees of a clinic or health care facility that provides reproductive services, juvenile probation officers, and juvenile detention or correctional officers.
After Andy Savage left the church, rather than reporting the incident, Steve Bradley contacted Woodson's parents, asking them if they would mind if the church were to re-hire Savage as a church staff member once again!
Due to the length of time now transpiring, the statute of limitations no longer allows this sexual abuse case to be prosecuted. Andy Savage has now stepped down from ministry. Larry Cotton has been suspended by his church in Austin, TX pending an investigation. Now Steve Bradley must be held accountable. Please send Stonebridge Church the message that failing to report a sexual assault is not acceptable, and that Steve Bradley must step down from his position for failing to protect Jules Woodson, after he knew that a crime had been committed.
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