Brian Houston, the founder and global pastor of Hillsong church, has recently been charged by police for allegedly concealing information regarding sexual crimes against children committed by his father several decades ago.
According to Christian Today, Brian's late father, Frank Houston, a Pentecostal Assemblies of God pastor, confessed in 1999 and 2000 to abusing boys in New Zealand three decades earlier. Frank died in 2004 at the age of 82.
On Thursday, the New South Wales Police published a statement asserting that Houston knew about his father's abuse early on and failed to report the matter to the authorities.
"Police will allege in court the man 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," the NSW police stated, according to Christian Today.
Hillsong expressed "disappointment" in the charges against Houston. The Sydney-based global megachurch asked that Houston "be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right."
"He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name," the church said in a statement. "Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time."
Last month, in a statement defending Houston, Hillsong leaders asserted that Houston was unaware of his father's actions until 30 years after the fact.
"Pastor Brian Houston found out about his father's criminal actions toward the victim when Brian was 45 years old, and the primary victim was 37 years old," the statement read. "Frank Houston's criminal actions were committed when this victim was a child, nearly 30 years prior. Numerous other pastors and individuals had knowledge of this matter prior to Brian Houston learning about it," the statement continued.
Hillsong explained that Houston confronted his father after hearing about the abuse and "reported the matter to the National Executive Assemblies of God in Australia, relayed the matter to the governing board of Sydney Christian Life Centre, and subsequently made a public announcement to the church.
"Brian sought to honor the victim's multiple requests not to inform the police," the statement added.
"The law at the time granted an exception to reporting a crime of this nature when a person had a reasonable excuse not to report. This state law has since further clarified that this type of situation–when an adult victim of child abuse explicitly does not want the matter reported–qualified as a reasonable excuse under the law," the statement concluded.
According to Premier Christian News, Houston is scheduled to appear in Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on October 5, 2021.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Douglas Sacha
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.