The co-founder of Australia-based Christian megachurch Hillsong has been charged with masking up his late father’s historic youngster intercourse abuse.
Brian Houston, 67, has denied for years that he held again info regarding his dad’s offenses. He’s confronted scrutiny over the case since 2014, when Australia’s royal commission into child sexual abuse heard that pastor Frank Houston—who died in 2004, earlier than the surprising allegations in opposition to him had been made public—abused a number of boys within the Seventies.
Police in New South Wales confirmed Thursday that they had charged Houston with knowingly concealing info associated to youngster sexual offenses. A statement from the force learn: “Police will allege in courtroom the person knew info regarding the sexual abuse of a younger male within the Seventies and didn’t convey that info to the eye of police.”
The fees adopted a two-year investigation by police, and, if Houston is discovered responsible, he faces a most cost of 5 years in jail. In his personal assertion, the pastor, who has been residing in the US, denied that he withheld any details about his dad’s historic abuse.
“These prices have come as a shock to me given how clear I’ve at all times been about this matter,” Houston mentioned Thursday, according to The Guardian. “I vehemently profess my innocence and can defend these prices and I welcome the chance to set the document straight.”
Hillsong defended its founder, saying that it was “upset” concerning the prices and including: “We ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due course of as is his proper… He has suggested us that he’ll defend this and appears ahead to clearing his title. We thank all who’re part of our church for his or her assist and prayers presently.”
Weeks earlier than Houston was charged, Hillsong church said in a lengthy statement that its founder realized about his father’s abuses when he was 45, and confronted his dad as quickly as he turned conscious of the allegations. Hillsong additionally claims that the sufferer in query requested Houston to not inform police—a declare that was reportedly denied by the sufferer.
Hillsong was based by Houston and his spouse, Bobbie, within the Nineteen Eighties. The church claims to have a median weekly world attendance of round 150,000 individuals, with locations of worship internationally. Earlier this yr, the church was deserted by one in all its most high-profile followers, Justin Bieber, who said he became disillusioned with church leaders.
Houston is a private good friend of Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and made an official visit to the Trump-era White House in Dec. 2019.
He’s scheduled to seem in a Sydney courtroom on Oct. 5.