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Hillsong Church Founder, Brian Houston, Steps Down Over Concealment of Dad’s Alleged Child Sex Offences

Hillsong founder, Brian Houston, has stepped down as leader of the church while he defends a criminal charge alleging he covered up his father’s child sexual abuse.

The founder of the Christian church made the announcement today, after last year stepping aside as director of all Hillsong boards.

Hillsong’s website says Houston founded the church with his wife, Bobbie, in Australia in 1983, in the western suburbs of Sydney. Now it has churches in 30 countries with a global weekly attendance of 150,000.

The pastor was charged in October last year with one count of concealing the serious indictable offence of another person and says he intends to vigorously defend the charge. 

In a statement on the church’s website, he said the charges were “unexpected” and the allegation he had failed to disclose information about his father had come as a “shock”.

a man wearing glasses with his hand up
Frank Houston died in 2004 before the allegations became public.(ABC News)

Frank Houston, who died in 2004, is accused of the alleged abuse of a young man back in the 1970s.

Mr Houston also said his latest decision came after discussions with the board last month.

“In December, during our board meeting, Hillsong’s external legal counsel gave the board advice regarding the current charge I am facing,” Mr Houston said.

“That it would be ‘best practice’ for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings.

“The court processes are likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022 [especially considering the backlog in the courts, exacerbated by the COVID pandemic].”

The 67-year-old, who is due to appear before a Sydney court in October, said his emotional wellbeing was also a factor.

“We have talked about the effects of the situation with my father, which go back many years up to the current legal case, and the impact this has had on me emotionally.”

Mr Houston said he will use the time to work with his legal team to set the record straight.

Police have previously alleged their investigation into Mr Houston began in 2019.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard Frank Houston admitted to the abuse, which took place in Australia and New Zealand.

He was allowed to retire from the church before the abuse became public.

First published in ABC News, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-01-30/hillsong-brian-houston-steps-down-leader-ahead-of-court-hearing/100791088

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