Brian Houston Hillsong
In this Oct. 7, 2014, photo, founder of the Sydney-based global Hillsong Church Brian Houston leaves a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse hearings in Sydney, Australia. Houston has been charged with concealing child sex offenses. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image via AP)

Police Allege Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Concealed Child Sex Abuse

By Associated Press

The founder of the Sydney, Australia-based global Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has been charged with concealing child sex offenses, police said Thursday.

Detectives served Houston’s lawyers on Thursday with a notice for him to appear in a Sydney court on Oct. 5 for allegedly concealing a serious indictable offense, police said.

“Police will allege in court the man (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,” police said.

Houston, 67, suggested the charges related to allegations that his preacher father, Frank Houston, had abused a boy over several years in the 1970s.

“These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” Houston said. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”

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Hillsong said in a statement the church was disappointed that Houston had been charged and asked that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process.

A government inquiry into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse found in 2015 that Houston did not tell police that his father was a child sex abuser. Excerpts from his 2014 testimony are featured in the BBC documentary “Hillsong Church: God Goes Viral” released two weeks ago, which also includes interviews with the victim (now an adult) whom Frank Houston allegedly abused in the 1970s. 

The inquiry found that Brian Houston became aware of allegations against his father in 1999 and allowed him to retire quietly rather report him to police. His father confessed to the abuse before he died in 2004 at age 82.

There was media speculation that the inquiry’s findings and the ensuing police investigation were reasons why the White House rejected a request by Australia’s Pentecostal prime minister, Scott Morrison, that Houston be invited to a 2019 state dinner hosted by then-President Donald Trump.

Morrison confirmed that he had wanted Houston, whom he’d known “for a long time,” included on the invitation list. Morrison said he didn’t know why the pastor wasn’t invited.

In an apparently unrelated incident, the victim of past abuse from a Hillsong staff member, Anna Crenshaw, saw her account minimized by the Hillsong founder to deflect accountability from the church. This past April, she called Houston’s response “incredibly victimizing and heartbreaking.”  

Houston has been based in the United States in recent months, preached at a service in Mexico last month and delivered a livestreamed sermon from California on Sunday, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

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5 thoughts on “Police Allege Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Concealed Child Sex Abuse”

  1. Sections 316 and 316A of the NSW Crimes Act are very nice pieces of legislation. The short of it is, if you know a serious crime has been committed, you have to report it.

  2. Chuck Chillingworth

    Some mercy is needed here. Until you have run an organization as large as Hillsong, you don’t really understand the complexity of responsibilities and concerns you have to constantly address and how an issue like this can adversely affect others who had nothing to do with the original problem. Multiplying the problem is an overly woke modern culture that is retroactively holding people accountable for things that happened decades earlier when understanding of these issues and accepted standards of dealing with them were very different. Which one of us would want every day of our life displayed out to a God-hating press and public opinion and evaluated by today’s standards?? As Pres. Truman said, “A boys hindsight is better than a President’s foresight.” Brian Houston had the added difficulty of the shock that this was his own father. And is anyone factoring in that we are clearly in a full scale spiritual war on God and Christians? Satan’s greatest tool is condemnation. Let’s not play in to his hand. We are praying for Brian Houston and his family. We would not wish this last year he’s had on anyone.

    Chuck and Janet Chillingworth

    1. Au contraire, Brian Houston was informed 20 years ago by several of us committed to exposing sexual abuse in the evangelical church world that this matter needed his urgent attention. He chose to duck it despite our assurances it was not going away. Similarly, Bill Hybels was cautioned about having Houston at the 2015 Leadership Summit bc of this matter, but ignored us.

      Stop giving the Devil unwarranted credit. Some Sage once opined: “be sure your sin will find you out.”

  3. Chuck Chillingworth

    Tim – no question he has culpability. So no problem with your email. My emphasis is on mercy and perspective. Bishop Tutu pioneered amnesty as a solution to problems much worse and much longer than Hillsong as representative of Christ’s example of dealing with the most heinous of sin. It was controversial and there were a lot of the victims that felt cheated out of justice due them…but remember, Christ took our sins upon himself so we would escape the justice due us. In an overly punitive world, is eye for eye really what we want, or what God wants? I don’t think so.

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