Hillsong Founder Brian Houston Charged for Allegedly Concealing Father’s Child Sexual Abuse

The founding pastor of Hillsong Church in Australia, Brian Houston, has been charged with allegedly covering up information about his father’s child sexual abuse offenses.

Officers with the New South Wales Police Force announced the charges against the 67-year-old Houston on Thursday as part of an investigation that has been ongoing since 2019, according to The Guardian.

“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 department stated.

Houston, who has been living in the U.S. in recent months, said the charges against him came “as a shock … given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter.”

“I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight,” he said.

The church, for its part, explained in a post it is “disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged,” asking that he “be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process, as is his right.”

Hillsong’s statement went on to explain Houston has informed the church “he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name.”

“We thank all who are part of our church for their support and prayers at this time,” the church leadership stated.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, Houston is required to appear at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on Oct. 5.

The Pentecostal pastor’s father, Frank, who was also a minister, has been accused of abusing nine underage boys while he was a pastor. The elder Houston, it should be noted, passed away in 2004.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse concluded the Hillsong founder failed to report his father’s abuse after he confessed to it in 1999.

Brett Sengstock has said he was abused by the elder Houston for more than five years in the 1960s and ’70s. Sengstock has condemned Brian Houston’s handling of the issue and accused him of covering up his dad’s sins.

In a blog post published July 23, Hillsong stated Brian Houston didn’t know about his father’s criminal action against Sengstock until he was 45 and the alleged victim was 37. The church alleged “numerous other pastors and individuals had knowledge of this matter prior to Brian Houston learning about it.”

“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,” the church stated. “Brian sought to honor the victim’s multiple requests not to inform the police.”