This week, Hillsong Church's founder and global senior pastor Brian Houston has been 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.
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.
Hillsong Church has responded, claiming that there is a lot of false information that has had been given to the media. "Much of this commentary is factually incorrect and highly defamatory, and we call on the media and others to immediately stop making these spurious claims. We have directed our lawyers to review several articles that have published untrue and defamatory claims that smear Pastor Brian's reputation as a Christian leader. Furthermore, we remind those who seek to spread rumours and baseless information via social media that these comments may also be subject to a defamation action."
The mega-church makes the following observations: "Here are the facts that were part of the evidence given at the Commission by both Pastor Brian and the victim of his father:
- The victim was a 36 year old adult when this abuse became known and could have taken the matter to police himself at any time.
- The victim did not want Pastor Brian or others to go to the police.
- At no time did Pastor Brian attempt to dissuade anyone - including the victim - from going to police.
- Pastor Brian immediately reported the abuse to each board member of Sydney CLC and also the executive of the Assemblies of God, the denomination that issued the ministry credentials for Frank Houston.
- The perpetrator, Frank Houston, was immediately removed from ministry by Pastor Brian and church leadership and never ministered in the church again, ensuring no child was placed in danger. He is now deceased.
The evidence stated that there were many others who knew about this abuse well before Pastor Brian was told. In the 15 years prior to the Royal Commission since these revelations came to light - despite Pastor Brian widely sharing this information, even to the entire church - no one had ever advised that this historical complaint coming from a mature 36 year old adult needed to be reported to the police. Evidence was also tabled at the Royal Commission that under s316 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) the 'reasonable excuse' provision allows for the non-reporting to the police of situations where historic victims that are now adults have specifically asked this not be done, as was in this case. The media continually chooses to overlook this."