Hillsong Church Founder Brian Houston has been charged with concealing sex abuse crimes related to his father's child sex abuse case. Houston is scheduled to appear in court on August 5 in regards to findings that Australian authorities say relates "to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police." Houston alleges the charges "come as a shock," but he's been transparent in the past about his father's abuse of a boy.
"I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight," Houston said in response, per Daily News. The church also released a statement following its founder's arrest and charges. "Over the past few days there has been numerous media reports and comments on social media about our senior pastor Brian Houston and references to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, at which Pastor Brian gave evidence in 2014," it read.
It continued, calling the claims "factually incorrect" and "highly defamatory." "We call on the media and others to immediately stop making these spurious claims. We have directed our lawyers to review several articles that have published untrue and defamatory claims that smear Pastor Brian's reputation as a Christian leader. Furthermore, we remind those who seek to spread rumours and baseless information via social media that these comments may also be subject to a defamation action," it adds. "Pastor Brian has made it clear on multiple occasions during and since the Royal Commission that he is incredibly grieved for the victims and the hurt and pain that the criminal actions of his father, Frank has caused them. He has never placed blame on any victim and the actions of his father repulsed him."
It closed, vehemently denying its founder is at fault and reminding those interested in the church that the charges have no bearing on the church or its beliefs. "This Royal Commission did not directly involve Hillsong Church. The abuse by Frank Houston occurred many years before Hillsong church existed," it said. "It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser. At no stage did the Royal Commission ever imply that Pastor Brian was involved in any sort of 'cover up.' Reporting around this is wrong."