Former Hillsong pastor Pasquale ('Pat') Mesiti has pleaded guilty to assaulting his second wife, more than a decade after being asked to step down from ministry at the megachurch following revelations of adultery.
Mesiti admitted to one count of common assault in court on Monday, after having previously pleaded not guilty. AP reports that prosecutors have dropped a more serious charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm.
The former evangelical preacher is currently on bail until his sentencing, which is expected on 23 March, but is barred from approaching his wife, Andrea, within 12 hours of consuming alcohol. Court documents said he grabbed her "by the neck" after discovering that she had allowed a party at their home in Sydney to celebrate the New Year.
According to Australia's 9News, the two have been married for 13 years but separated last year and are now in the final stages of divorce.
Mesiti was asked to leave ministry at Hillsong in 2002 after a highly publicised exposure of his unfaithfulness to his first wife. According to the New Zealand Herald, he was stripped of his license to minister after it was discovered that he had slept with prostitutes. He admitted in an interview with Sight Magazine in 2006 that he had struggled "with a sexual addiction".
Four years later, however, he returned to ministry as a motivational speaker, and is now billed as a "self-help guru".
According to his website, Mesiti is an "income acceleration coach" and is hoping to "raise 10,000 millionaires through his works".
He promises to "shift your mindset, touch your heart and increase your wealth".