On Tuesday, a lawyer for Hillsong founder Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston told a Sydney court that he will plead not guilty for concealing crimes of sexual abuse by his late father, Frank Houston.
In August, Houston was formally charged by the New South Wales Police for failing to report his father’s sexual abuse of a boy in the 1970s after a two-year investigation. They claimed that Houston knew about the abuse as early as September 1999 but “failed to bring that information to the attention of police.”
In response, Houston promised to “vehemently” profess his innocence in fighting the charges.
“I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” he said in a statement in August.
A spokesperson for Hillsong told The Christian Post, that the allegations were “unfounded” as Frank Houston was “never a pastor at Hillsong Church.”
“The incidents involving Frank Houston took place in the 1960s and early 1970s. Hillsong Church was not founded until 1983, and Frank Houston was never a pastor at Hillsong Church,” the spokesperson told the outlet.
A month later, Houston stepped down from his role on various church boards amidst the charges, except for his position as Global Senior Pastor.
Frank Houston, who died in 2004 at the age of 82, was the head of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand until 1971. During his tenure, he was confirmed to have abused multiple young boys in Australia and New Zealand.
In 1983, Brian Houston founded Hillsong with his wife Bobbi in Sydney, which has since grown into a global evangelical megachurch today. According to The Christian Post, he also served as the head of the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God from 1997 to 2009.
Upon becoming aware of the sex crimes, Brian immediately made his father resign from the Sydney Christian Life Centre with a pension.
In 2014, Houston told the Royal Commission Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuses that he did not blame an accuser, who is now 59 years old, for tempting his father when he was a child.
Houston’s case in court will continue on Nov. 23.
The matter also comes in light of several allegations of abuse amongst Hillsong’s leadership, which was recently detailed in the 60 Minutes Australia special, Hillsong Hell.
Photo credit: ©Brian Houston Facebook
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.