Brian Houston ‘covered up father’s abuse, protected Hillsong’: court
By David Rogers
June 17, 2023
An Australian court has found that former Hillsong senior pastor, Brian Houston, covered up his father’s sexual abuse of a minor, and in the process protected the church.
Mr Houston’s ongoing court case is being heard in Sydney, where Mr Houston is being scrutinized in for allegedly concealing his father’s molesting of a seven-year-old boy in the 1970s.
The court heard that from the moment Hillsong megachurch founder Brian Houston heard his father admit to sexually abusing a young boy, his “only focus” was to protect the church’s reputation.
According to 9 News, an “entrenched reverence” towards Frank Houston, a founding father of the Pentecostal church movement, also fostered protection of high-ranking church figures and enforced the culture of silence, crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison said on Thursday.
Harrison said Houston revealed the admission as part of concealing the offence from authorities.
It allowed the cancellation of his credential, and headed off any further investigation within the church, which would have followed if the allegation was denied.
“That allowed them to stop doing anything further and they didn’t do anything further,” Harrison said.
The court heard the culture was to “protect the church” in the face of scandal. Mr Houston is the founder of Hillsong, and his father Frank died in 2004
Closing addresses are underway in the case in which Brian Houston, 69, has pleaded not guilty to concealing his father’s abuse. Mr Houston has argued all along that he had a reasonable excuse for not going to police — that he was respecting the wishes of victim Brett Sengstock, then aged in his 30s.
Mr Houston’s barrister is set to produce Mr Houston’s defense Friday Australian time.
Meanwhile, Mr Houston has spoken out on the ongoing media surrounding Hillsong, including what he calls the “crazy, slanderous documentaries”. In light of the release of The Secrets of Hillsong documentary, in which former Hillsong New York pastors Carl and Laura Lentz share their side of the story, he took to social media to set the record, from his side at least, straight.