The Sydney Morning Herald reports…
“Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston failed to tell police his father was a self-confessed child abuser and had a clear conflict of interest in dealing with the sex claims himself, an inquiry has found.
The high profile pastor gave evidence to the Royal Commission into the Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in October last year.
In a report released on Monday, the commissioners found that Mr Houston and the church’s executive team failed the victim, known as AHA, who was molested by Frank Houston for a number of years from the age of seven.
When the allegations surfaced almost 30 years later in 1999, Mr Houston confronted his father, who admitted abusing AHA.
The commissioners found that Brian Houston, then national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia, did not inform authorities.
“We are satisfied that, in 1999 and 2000, Pastor Brian Houston and the National Executive of the Assemblies of God in Australia did not refer the allegations of child sexual abuse against Mr Frank Houston to the police,” the commissioners wrote in their report.
The commission heard that Mr Houston suspended his father from the church but it was decided at a meeting of senior Assemblies of God members the allegation would be kept confidential and Frank Houston would be allowed to quietly retire without the reason being made public.
“We consider that a conflict of interest first arose when Pastor Brian Houston decided to respond to the allegations by confronting his father while simultaneously maintaining his roles as National President (of the Assemblies of God in Australia) and Senior Pastor,” the commissioners found.
The report concluded that senior staff at the Assemblies of God failed to follow their own protocol regarding sexual abuse claims and did not support the victim.
“The commissioners express the view that the NSW executive failed to appoint a contact person for the complainant, interview the complainant, have the state or national executive interview the alleged perpetrator, or record any of the steps it took,” the commissioners wrote.
In his evidence, AHA said Frank Houston would come into his room “nearly every night of the week” and sexually molest him while staying with his family in 1970.
AHA told the commission the abuse had “destroyed his childhood”, leaving him “full of shame, fear and embarrassment”.
The commission heard AHA was offered $10,000 in exchange for his signature on a dirty napkin at a meeting with Frank Houston and Hillsong Church elder Nabi Saleh at Thornleigh McDonalds in 2000.
Hillsong Church released a statement saying Mr Houston acted appropriately.
“We are confident that the actions of Pastor Brian, from the moment he discovered the news about his father, were done with the best intentions towards the victim,” the statement.
In their report, the commissioners also made findings against the Northside Christian College in Victoria and the Sunshine Coast Church in Queensland.
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