Hillsong Megachurch Founder Brian Houston Accused of Hiding His Father's Sexual Crimes.
The co-founder of the Australia-based Hillsong Christian mega-church has been accused of covering up his late father's historic child abuse. Brian Houston, 67, has denied that he hasn't disclosed about his father's crimes for years.
The Royal Australian Commission on Child Sexual Abuse had been under investigation since 2014 when it heard that Pastor Frank Houston, who died in 2004 before shocking allegations against him were made public, had abused several children in the 1970s.
New South Wales police confirmed on Thursday that they had charged Frank Houston with knowingly withholding information about sexual offenses against children. "Police will claim in court that the man knew about the sexual abuse of a young man in the 1970s and did not bring this information to the attention of the police," the police said in a statement.
The charges come after a two-year police investigation and if found guilty Houston will face a maximum prison sentence of five years. The pastor, who lives in the US, denied in his statement that he did not disclose the historical abuse of his father.
"These allegations shocked me considering how transparent I have always been about this," Houston told The Guardian on Thursday. "I strongly admit my innocence and will defend these allegations and welcome the opportunity to fix the record."
Hillsong defended the founder, saying he was "disappointed" with the allegations, saying, "As he has the right to clear his name, we ask that you grant him the presumption of innocence and due process. We thank everyone who has been a part of our church during this time for their support and prayers."
Hillsong Church, in a lengthy statement, made weeks before Houston was indicted, said its founder learned of his father's abuses at the age of 45 and confronted his father as soon as he learned of the allegations. Hillsong also alleges that the victim in question asked Houston not to notify the police - a claim reportedly denied by the victim.
Hillsong was founded in the 1980s by Houston and her husband, Bobbie. The church claims to have an average weekly global attendance of 150,000, with places of worship around the world. Earlier this year, the church was abandoned by one of its most famous followers, Justin Bieber, who said he disliked church leaders.
Houston is a personal friend of Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and made an official visit to the Trump-era White House in December 2019. He will appear in Sydney court on October 5.