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World News

Former Hillsong pastor accused of rape in new setback for megachurch

by Donna Birrell

The lead pastor of a former Hillsong church has been accused of rape by a member of staff at the church.

Reed Bogard resigned from Hillsong Dallas in January 2021. Shortly afterwards an internal investigation commissioned by Hillsong Global showed that he had been accused of rape by a female staff member with whom he had an affair while serving at Hillsong NYC between September 2013 and January 2014.

Christian Post says the investigation was commissioned in October 2020, shortly after senior church officials first learned that the woman alleged that an act of sexual intercourse with Bogard was non-consensual. 

According to Christian Post, Hillsong Church Australia was made aware in 2014 of a sexual relationship between the two parties, but an investigation was not conducted by the church at the time. Investigators said church leaders were led to believe the relationship was consensual and "consequences to both [parties] were meted out accordingly."

Reed Bogard was forced out of his role in the Dallas church in January 2021 amid claims he and his wife had misappropriated funds. After his resignation, the base was closed down.

Hillsong Church said founder Brian Houston, who resigned on Wednesday, was not aware of the rape claims against Bogard when he was chosen to lead Hillsong Dallas in 2019. In a statement the church said :

“Brian Houston categorically denies he had knowledge of this serious allegation when Reed Bogard was selected as the Lead Pastor for Dallas. Hillsong Church has enormous compassion for the other party involved in this situation. We have been in regular contact with her and she has asked to remain anonymous. We ask that the media and all other parties respect and protect her privacy.”

It’s the latest scandal to affect Hillsong in the last few months. Earlier this week, Brian Houston resigned after claims he had acted inappropriately with two women. 

Houston is currently facing criminal charges for allegedly concealing sex abuse committed by his father decades earlier. He denies the allegations.

Hillsong was founded in Sydney in 1983 and has grown into a mega-church with services held across the world.

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