Registered Sex Offender Continued to Minister to Chi Alpha Students

Over the past 30 years, well over a hundred men involved in Texas chapters of the campus ministry Chi Alpha have seen Daniel Savala naked.

At Savala’s house in Houston, he invited them to strip down and talk about spiritual issues in his sauna. He offered his bed to overnight guests while sleeping in the buff. And at least 13 men reported that Savala molested or raped them while they sought his spiritual advice as college students, according to a new online forum collecting victims’ stories.

Savala, 67, doesn’t hold an official title with Chi Alpha, isn’t employed by the organization, and isn’t credentialed by its denomination, the Assemblies of God.

But former members of Chi Alpha say a network of pastors leading chapters at several Texas colleges viewed Savala as a mentor and spiritual guru, supporting him and sending their students to his house—even after Savala was convicted of child sexual abuse and registered as a sex offender a decade ago.

Victims are speaking up to call out those who continued endorsing Savala and put students at risk. Officials with Chi Alpha and the Assemblies of God had previously been warned about Savala’s status and activity, but because he didn’t have an official role, they couldn’t—or didn’t—stop it.

[Update (May 24, 2023): Eli Stewart, the College Station, Texas, pastor who promoted Daniel Savala as a mentor and teacher, was dismissed by his church this week after an investigation. Mountain Valley Fellowship said Stewart “had fallen into sinful practices unbecoming of the office of a pastor and that he had neglected his duty to protect his flock from a known predator, both of which disqualify him from ministry.” Eli Gautreaux, Chi Alpha’s district director, and Johnny Hauck, of the UTSA chapter, have also stepped down during the investigation.]

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Kate Shellnutt | “Registered Sex Offender Continued to Minister to Chi Alpha Students” | May 10th, 2023


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