Hillsong's founder and global senior pastor Brian Houston was "shocked" when he was charged by the NSW police for allegedly concealing his late father Frank Houston's sexual abuse of children. Houston, who is currently in the US, will be returning to Sydney, Australia in October to face the charges.
Houston released a statement saying the news came as a "shock to me given how transparent I've always been about this matter."
"I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight," the statement continued. Hillsong Church released its own corporate statement, saying Houston "has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name."
During 1965 to 1977, Brian's father, Frank Houston was serving as a leader of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand. During his tenure, Frank Houston abused many young boys in New Zealand and Australia. One victim in Sydney was routinely subjected to sexual abuse from the age of 7 to 12. In 1999, his mother reported the abuse to the church.
At the time, Brian Houston was the National President of the denomination Assemblies of God in Australia. Upon hearing the report of the sexual abuse, Brian Houston immediately dismissed his father, forcing Frank Houston to quietly resign from the Sydney Christian Life Centre with a pension.
According to the NSW Police report, a new investigation had commenced since 2019. The police have found evidence and they will allege in court that Houston knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police.
Houston is expected to appear in Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday 5 October 2021.