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World News

Court told urgent church meeting on Frank Houston’s sexual abuse was kept a secret

by Alex Collett

As Brian Houston stands trial for not reporting his father's sexual abuse, a Sydney court has heard that church movement executives agreed to keep an urgent meeting on Frank Houston's abuse a secret.

Former Assemblies of God in Australia (AOG) secretary, Keith Ainge, told the court that a meeting at the Sydney Qantas Club, in December 1999, was called quickly by Brian Houston who was the then national AOG president.

Brian Houston has pleaded not guilty to concealing his father's sexual abuse, a charge made by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

During the ongoing trial, Mr Ainge spoke about Brian Houston's actions in the 1999 meeting. According to The Guardian, Ainge said: "His father [Frank Houston] had admitted that he had behaved inappropriately, and so he [Brian Houston] immediately suspended his credential, which was his prerogative as the national president."

Ainge told the court Houston then stepped down from chairing the rest of the meeting. Mr Ainge added: “He [Brian Houston] was in the room, but he didn’t participate in decision-making."

After the meeting, due to the sensitivity of the matter, AOG vice-president John Lewis made a decision that the minutes of the meeting would be kept confidential in a special file.

Ainge gave further detail about the meeting, saying he was confident Brian Houston had sought legal advice but was unsure of when he had done so. 

Houston claims Sengstock – the victim – did not want the matter reported to the police.

However, Mr Sengstock denies the claims.

The trial, which started on 2nd December, is set to last for three weeks. 

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