Hillsong Megachurch Founder Charged With Concealing Child Sex Offenses

Hillsong megachurch founder Brian Houston is accused of allegedly withholding information from police regarding his father’s past sexual abuse.

Brian Houston speaks on stage during the Hillsong Atlanta grand opening at Hillsong Atlanta.

Image via Getty/Marcus Ingram

Brian Houston speaks on stage during the Hillsong Atlanta grand opening at Hillsong Atlanta.

Brian Houston, founder of the megachurch Hillsong, was charged on Thursday with concealing child sex offenses, USA Today reports.

Houston, 67, allegedly failed to disclose to police that he had known about sexual abuse allegations made against his father, Frank, who was also a pastor. An inquiry conducted by the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which handles sexual abuse complaints against institutions, found that Houston had been made aware of these allegations in 1999, and chose to withhold that information from authorities until his father quietly retired.

Prior to his death in 2004, Frank confessed to sexually abusing a 7-year-old boy in New Zealand in the 1970s.

He’s accused of abusing as many as nine boys.

“These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” Houston said, per BuzzFeed News. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”

Houston said in a 2014 statement that upon discovering these allegations, he “immediately confronted my father and ensured he never preached or served in any ministry capacity again.” BuzzFeed News found a statement on Hillsong’s website from a few weeks ago which claimed that Houston reported his father 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.”

The Sydney Christian Life Centre was founded by Frank in 1977 before being absorbed by Houston’s Hills Christian Life Centre, and becoming part of Hillsong. The megachurch alleges Frank’s abuse towards the boy occurred before he established Sydney Christian Life, adding that he was never on Hillsong’s staff. 

Former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz, who most notably housed Justin Bieber for nearly two months with his family in 2014 and baptized the singer in the bathtub of former NBA player Tyson Chandler’s New York City apartment, was accused of sexual and emotional abuse in June. 

Houston is scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 5.

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