Brian Houston, founder and former global senior pastor of the Hillsong Church network, told an Australian court that his father was a "serial pedophile," but the church still gave him a retirement package even after he lost his pastoral status.
"I have no doubt now that my father was a serial pedophile, and we'll probably never know the extent of it," Houston, who has pleaded not guilty to concealing his father's sexual abuse, told the Downing Centre Local Court.
Brian Houston founded Hillsong in 1983. From 1997 to 2009, he served as the head of the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God.
In 1999, the church announced that his father, Frank, was retiring, but in reality, he was defrocked.
During Frank's time as an Assemblies of God leader, he was alleged to have abused young boys in New Zealand and Australia.
According to The Christian Post, Houston said at the time he believed his father was not "a danger" to the community since he was ill, and the abuse had taken place within a "season."
"There's no evidence that after that season, in the early [1970s] and so on, that he continued to abuse minors," said Brian Houston.
Frank died in 2004.
When New South Wales Police concluded its two-year investigation into accusations of abuse at Frank's hands, Brian was charged with failing to report his father's abuse of a young boy. Police say Houston, 68, "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." He has denied the claims.
He also said one of the victim's fathers asked that the incident not be made public.
Frank did agree to a legal payment to the victim's family, but Houston said it was not meant to "silence" the family.
In court, Houston also shared that his father was given a retirement package about a year after the abuse incident. Houston noted that the retirement package was enough to "financially look after" Frank and his wife, Hazel.
"He had been fired from preaching, had his credentials taken; he'd been asked to leave Hillsong. … This was an attempt to sign him off as an administrator," Houston said.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.