The beleaguered founding pastor of Hillsong Church has reportedly tried to cover up his father’s child sexual abuse from within the church ranks.
Brian Houston, 67, received a subpoena through his lawyers on Thursday afternoon ordering him to appear in Australian court, according to The Associated Press. Authorities say his father, Frank Houston, sexually assaulted a boy for several years – and his son knew about the abuse but did nothing.
“The police will charge the man in court [Houston] knew of information relating to the sexual abuse of a young man in the 1970s and did not bring this information to the attention of the police, ”said the Sydney Royal Commission on the Treatment of Sexual Abuse by Women institutional leaders.
Frank Houston, who deceased in 2004, confessed to charges of child sexual abuse before his death, according to the Guardian. He was 82 years old. Authorities suspect he may have sexually assaulted up to nine children in Australia and New Zealand. No evidence currently directly implicates Brian Houston in the ongoing sex abuse scandal.
Brian Houston reportedly learned of the allegations in the late 1990s. However, the mega-church pastor allegedly allowed his disgraced father to step down from Hillsong instead of turning him into authority, according to a 2015 government investigation into the response. institutional to sexual abuse. Houston had been under investigation since at least 2019.
The charismatic preacher, who broadcast live a sermon in California last weekend has since denied the charges.
“These accusations shocked me given how transparent I have always been about this,” Houston said. noted in a statement, according to the New York Post. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these accusations, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
A spokesperson for the mega-church also criticized the new accusations.
“We are disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged and ask that he be given the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right,” Hillsong said in a statement, Vanity Fair reported. “He has informed us that he will defend this and is eager to clear his name. We thank everyone in our church for their support and prayers at this time. “
In recent years, Hillsong Church has suffered a series of punitive scandals. The new charges against Frank and Brian Houston emerged months after the infamous church fired Pastor Carl Lentz for sexually abusing a nanny, Vanity Fair reported.
Brian Houston co-founded the mega-church, first known as Hills Christian Life Center, with his father, Frank, in the 1980s in South Wales. A decade later, his congregation had grown to include tens of thousands of worshipers. Celebrities such as Kylie Jenner and Kendall Jenner, as well as Justin Bieber, Chriss Pratt and Selena Gomez are said to have ties to past ties to the Australian mega-church.
The 67-year-old, who was recently based in the United States, is scheduled to appear in court at the Downing Center in Sydney on October 5. If convicted, Houston could face up to five years in prison.
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