Brian Houston Charged With Covering Up His Father’s Alleged Sexual Abuses

Brian Houston

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston was charged, alleging that he hid the information of his late father's sexual misconduct.

According to The Guardian, the charge was filed by the New South Wales (NSW) police on Thursday.

The NSW police said that the investigation started in 2019 upon receiving reports that the pastor "had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offences."

"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," it further stated.

Surprised with the move, Houston claimed his innocence and expressed his willingness to clear his name from the accusation.

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

Hillsong Church also released a statement, conveying its disappointment over the charge.

"We ask that he 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. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time," the congregation added.

The minister is set to appear at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Oct. 5.

The Daily Mail said that the charge carries a five-year imprisonment, if found guilty.

Houston is currently in the United States and was seen in Springfield and Kansas City in Missouri on Sunday for a series of church services.

The church founder's father, Frank, who was then a leader of the Assemblies of God (AG) in New Zealand, allegedly abused nine boys. Brett Sengstock, one of the victims, revealed that he was abused by the late minister in 1969 and 1970 when the latter stayed in their home during his visits in Australia.

Brian learned about the abuse and confronted Frank, who confessed to the misconduct, in November 1999. But Brian did not report the matter to the police, claiming that Sengstock told him not to, which the victim denied.

The pastor suspended his father from the ministry in December 1999 and claimed that Frank's credentials were withdrawn by AG.

However, based on the evidence gathered by the royal commission, Frank resigned in 2000, saying that he felt it was time for him to retire, alongside his wife. He did enter retirement that year with financial support from the church and without damaging his reputation. He passed away in 2004.

Details of the late minister's abuse was revealed through the report presented by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2015, wherein Sengstock was identified as AHA.

In the report, the victim shared that he was already 16 years old when he disclosed the matter to his mother in 1978. Not wanting to cause any trouble, they kept the information to themselves for 20 more years and in 1998, Sengstock's mother finally uncovered the abuse to a pastor in an AG-affiliated church in New South Wales.