NSW Police today charged Hillsong founder Brian Houston with concealing historic child sex abuse by his father. The police charges follow a two-year police investigation.
The charges related to allegations Houston failed to report information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s.
Houston’s father Frank Houston faced multiple allegations of historic child sex abuse towards the end of his life.
After reviewing a police brief, the NSW Director of Public Prosecutions advised police to proceed with the case. Police then served a court attendance notice on Houston’s lawyers.
Houston’s father Frank was superintendent of the NZ Assemblies of God until the early 1970s. He moved to Australia in 1977 and founded the Sydney Christian Life Centre. More than twenty other Christian Life Centres opened in the following years. In 1999, the centres merged to become the Hillsong Church.
In 1999, Brian Houston, then head of the Assemblies of God in Australia, heard reports that his father previously abused young boys. Houston dismissed his father, asking him to quietly resign with a pension.
Internal church investigations later uncovered additional cases of historic child sex abuse. Despite a legal obligation to do so, Brian Houston failed to report the crimes.
Australia’s 2015 Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse heard that Frank Houston abused up to nine boys in Australia and New Zealand.
Brian Houston told the Royal Commission that his father had confessed in 1999, but that he had not informed the police.
Denying wrongdoing, Houston told the royal commission he thought the victim old enough in 1999 to make up his own mind about whether to report the matter to police.
Today, Houston, who is currently overseas, said he was shocked by the charges.
“I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison previously described Brian Houston as one of the three church figures who most shaped his Christian faith. In 2020, Morrison confirmed he previously sought an invitation for Houston to a White House dinner with Donald Trump. However, the White House did not extend an invitation to the Hillsong founder.