The New South Wales police have charged Brian Houston, the 67-year-old founder of Hillsong Church, with allegedly concealing child sex offences in the 1970s.

Houston is accused of knowing about the sexual abuse of a young man in the 1970s but not reporting it to the police. The charges relate to Houston not reporting alleged child sex offences against his father Frank. 

Two Year Investigation

The charges follow a two-year investigation by the NSW police. 

“In 2019, an investigation commenced by officers attached to The Hills Police Area Command into reports a 67-year-old man had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offences,” NSW Police said in a statement on Thursday.

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The police said that following investigations, detectives requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to review the evidence collected in the case. On the basis of ODPP’s advice, detectives served a court attendance notice on August 5, 2021 to Houston’s lawyers. 

“Police will allege in court (that) the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police,” said the police. 

Houston is scheduled to appear before the Downing Centre Local Court on October 5, 2021.

Houston is currently based in the US and the ABC reported that he had given a sermon from California, that was live streamed to his followers. 

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that he has known Houston for a long time, but is not a member of Hillsong Church. A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told The New Daily that it “would be inappropriate to comment” in a police matter. 

Church Is Against Gay Marriages

Houston founded the Pentecostal megachurch in 1983 in Baulkham Hills, NSW, Australia.  Its celebrity followers include Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kylie and Kendall Jenner and Kourtney Kardashian.

Over the years, the church has faced allegations of homophobia and racism. Houston has in a blog ‘Do I love gay people?  said that while the church welcomes everyone it remains opposed to gay marriages. 

Huston said that the church holds “to traditional Christian thought on gay lifestyles and gay marriage. I do believe God’s word is clear that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

“Hillsong Church welcomes ALL people but does not affirm all lifestyles… Put clearly, we do not affirm a gay lifestyle and because of this we do not knowingly have actively gay people in positions of leadership, either paid or unpaid,” Houstorn said. 

The allegations against Frank Houston reportedly relate to sexual abuse of boys when he was a pastor in New Zealand and Australia in the 1960s and 1970s. One of the nine victims who came forward said he was subjected to sexual abuse in the 1960s and 70s between the ages of seven and 12 years old.

His mother reported the abuse in 1999 to the Assemblies of God denomination headed by Houston, who was legally obligated to report the case to the police. Frank died in 2004. 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

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