Sky News reports…
“The head of the Hillsong Church says confronting his father about child sex assault allegations was hell and 16 years later he’s still badly affected.
In an exclusive interview on Sky News Live, Brian Houston has responded to the criticism levelled at him by the Child Sex Abuse Royal Commission .. conceding he should have reported the allegations surrounding his father, but denying any type of cover-up.
Speaking on Sky News’ Richo Program, the Hillsong leader says his father was his hero and the allegations came as a big shock.
Brian Houston, founder and senior pastor in the global Hillsong Church movement, did not tell police his father was a child sex abuser, a royal commission has found.
And, as national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia in 2000, the charismatic preacher had a perceived conflict of interest when involved in handling abuse allegations against his father Frank Houston, who had confessed to being a child molester.
The commission report handed down on Friday follows a public hearing last year, which examined the response of Assemblies of God affiliates – Hillsong Church in NSW, Northside Christian College in Victoria and the Sunshine Coast Church in Queensland – to allegations of child sexual abuse.
The Australian branch of the World Assemblies of God – the largest pentecostal denomination in the world – is now known as Australian Christian Churches.
The child sex abuse royal commission report found that when it came to handling the case of Frank Houston, his son Brian and senior executives of the Assemblies of God failed to follow church protocols.
It found Brian Houston, the high-profile pastor at the multi-million dollar church, and senior executives failed to tell police and instead let Frank Houston retire quietly. He has since died.
‘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.’
In evidence last year, the commission heard Frank Houston came from New Zealand and founded a church in Sydney in the 70s.
On visits to the Australian home of a seven-year-old boy, known by the pseudonym AHA, the respected pastor would abuse him.
The assaults continued for six years.
In his evidence, AHA said Frank Houston would come into his room ‘nearly every night of the week’ and sexually molest him.
He said the abuse filled him with shame and fear and ‘destroyed his childhood’.
In 1999, Brian Houston confronted his father and suspended him.
However, it was decided at an Assemblies executive meeting the allegations would be kept confidential.
Brian Houston was at the meeting.
The executives should have appointed a contact person for AHA, have interviewed Frank Houston and kept a record of what action was taken, and reported the matter.
None of this was done.
The commission did hear that at one stage AHA was offered $10,000 in exchange for his signature on a dirty napkin at a meeting with Frank Houston and a Hillsong elder.
In a statement on Monday, Hillsong Church defended its senior pastor, who took ‘decisive and immediate action’ against his father.
It pointed out the abuse happened long before Hillsong was founded and no one had ever advised that a historical complaint coming from a mature adult, who did not want to go to police, should be reported.
‘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 read.”