Founder of the international megachurch Hillsong, Brian Houston, has been charged with allegedly concealing his father's abuse of another boy in the 1970s.
In a statement on Thursday, New South Wales Police in Australia claim that Global Senior Pastor Brian Houston knew about the abuse decades ago: "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 abuse happened before Hillsong was founded but the Church has released several statements on the matter before, with the most recent one on 23rd July stating that Brian Houston only found out about his father's abuse when he was 45 years old, 30 years after the crime: "Upon being told of his father’s actions, Brian Houston confronted his father, 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 charge of Brian Houston this week comes after a two year investigation into the allegations that he knew and concealed information.
NSW Police state: "Following extensive investigations, detectives requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) review their brief of evidence.
"Earlier this week, the ODPP provided advice to police, and following further inquiries, detectives served a Court Attendance Notice for conceal serious indictable offence on the man’s legal representative about 2pm today (Thursday 5 August 2021)."
He is expected to appear in Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Tuesday 5th October 2021.
Brian Houston, who has recently travelled to the US and Mexico, said in a statement: “These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” he said. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
The Hillsong church said it was “disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged”.
“We ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right,” the church said in a statement.
“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.”
In 1999, Brian Houston confronted his father about sexual abuse allegations. He then dismissed Frank from his ministerial and preaching roles with the Assemblies of God Australia group of churches.
Houston has referenced this part of his life in numerous interviews and has always insisted that he acted quickly and correctly in disciplining his father while following the request of the victim.
Houston has also alleged that other individuals were privy to information relating to the abuse before it was brought to his attention.