Hillsong Church Responds to the Legal Proceedings Commenced by Anna Crenshaw

Hillsong Church

Anna Crenshaw has vowed she will not be silenced after a settlement was abandoned in her ongoing legal battle with Hillsong Church over her indecent assault at the hands of a church employee. Crenshaw was indecently assaulted by Hillsong Church staffer Jason Mays when she was 18 years old. 

Crenshaw alleged she had suffered harm, injury and loss as a result of the church's negligence and breach of contract. Hillsong has denied it acted negligently towards the former parishioner in its defence filed with the court.

The parties reached a settlement over the claims on Monday, the day the week-long trial was due to start in the NSW Supreme Court. However, Ms Crenshaw's lawyer told the court on Thursday that the agreement "had not been forthcoming due to a disagreement between the parties."

Hillsong has responded to the case:

As a church we are committed to continuing to provide an environment where it is safe to speak up and to provide care and support for anyone who reaches out.

We are deeply saddened by the circumstances that have given rise to the legal proceedings in the NSW Supreme Court commenced by Anna Crenshaw in 2022 against two Hillsong entities and a former staff member Jason Mays.  The trial of those proceedings was scheduled to commence in the Supreme Court of New South Wales on Monday 29 April 2024.

Out of respect for Anna's privacy and in due deference to the Court, Hillsong has refrained from making any public statement about these proceedings.  However, in light of developments this week, Hillsong wishes to clarify the issues in these proceedings.

These legal proceedings are not about whether the assault occurred.  In January 2020 the former staff member pleaded guilty to an assault with an act of indecency in the Penrith Local Court, and no criminal conviction was recorded.  Hillsong has never disputed the assault occurred or Anna's account of that assault.

The Supreme Court proceedings are about two issues: whether Hillsong is liable for the assault and its response to Anna's report of the assault that occurred at a private gathering of friends attended by the now former staff member in his personal capacity and arranged without the knowledge or involvement of Hillsong.

Hillsong is defending this case and was ready to proceed with the trial on Monday morning. Following an approach by Anna's legal team, it entered into good faith discussions with her.  We reject any suggestion that we attempted to prevent Anna from having her day in Court or that there were any attempts to silence or intimidate her.

In relation to Anna's report of the assault, Hillsong respected Anna's directions and requests for confidentiality.  It also supported her personally and in her studies.   After undertaking its own investigations and obtaining independent legal advice, Hillsong reported the matter to the NSW Police after notifying Anna's representative of its intention to do so. We commend Anna and indeed every person who has the courage to come forward after experiencing any form of hurt or harm.



Tags : hillsong church Hillsong Jason Mays Anna Crenshaw sexual abuse

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