The founder of Hillsong, one of the most influential religious brands across the globe, on Thursday (Oct. 16) denied allegations that he had tried to cover up his father’s sexual abuse, saying the victim asked him not to go to the police.
Fifteen years ago, Brian Houston found out that his father, who was a minister in New Zealand, admitted he sexually abused a boy in Sydney.
“It was the darkest day of my life because he was my hero, and suddenly he was a pedophile,” Houston said at a news conference.
Houston, who was president of the Assemblies of God in Australia in 1999, fired his father, took control of the church and merged it with Hillsong, now a sprawling megachurch on the outskirts of Sydney.
His father, Frank Houston, was never prosecuted, received a retirement package (which Houston said was more for his mother who also worked for the church) before he died in 2004.
Houston said that the victim who came forward to him asked him not to tell the police. He said he has since learned that Australian law requires someone to report a crime that could be punishable by five years in jail. “I would’ve gone to the police,” he said, if he had known about the reporting requirements.
The victim, who was 7 years old at the time of the abuse, has claimed that the younger Houston accused him of “tempting” his father.
Houston flatly denied the charge.