Brian Houston: I was 'shattered' when I discovered my father's sexual abuse

Instagram @hillsong

Hillsong pastor Brian Houston has defended his decision not to tell the police about his father's sexual abuse, and said he was "shattered" when he discovered the crimes.

Houston has previously detailed his slide toward depression after discovering his father had sexually abused children.

In a new interview with Inside Story, Houston said: "I was meeting with one of my colleagues and he told me someone had rung into the Church office and made a complaint that, 30 years before, my father had abused a boy.

"At first I thought, 'That's immoral.' Within a split second I thought, 'That's criminal.' And I was just stunned, shattered."

Houston continued: "The dad that I knew, right up to really his dying day, was a totally different person than what now the world knows was an evil side of him.

"I was never at any time in any way exposed to that, so it's still hard to reconcile. At first I felt very sad and very disappointed, and obviously I felt terribly sad for the victim, because there's no doubt about it, my father's violated him and done irreparable damage to his life."

Houston's father, Frank Houston, who founded the Sydney Christian Life Centre, is credited with building a movement that became Hillsong, one of the largest megachurches in the world. Before his death in 2004 aged 82, he confessed to sexually abusing a boy in New Zealand three decades earlier, and was immediately removed from ministry by Brian. Further accusations of abuse emerged in the following years, several of which proved to be true.

Houston gave evidence at a national inquiry into his father's crimes last year, and denied accusations that he tried to mask his involvement in paying 'compensation' to one of the victims.

The royal commission found that neither the church's national executive nor Houston referred the allegations to the police, and that Houston "had a conflict of interest in assuming responsibility for dealing" with them.

He previously told the commission he did not report to the police because "rightly or wrongly I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point".

He explained to Inside Story that "When he [the victim] came forward he was 36 or 37 years old. And he was very adamant he didn't want to involve the police. He didn't want the church authorities involved, or the police authorities involved."

Houston insisted that he had not covered up his father's crimes. "We did tell people straight away. We did take his credentials away. He never did preach again and we did oversee and ensure that he was never put in a position to be close to kids to be able to do that again."

He said it had taken him some time to come to terms with the abuse, but "He was a paedophile. My dad was a paedophile. I can say it now. I have sort of come to grips with it now. But I do sort of find myself carrying the can for stuff that had nothing to do with me.

"This was not my crime. I didn't do this. I hate paedophilia. And I mean it. I hate paedophilia with a passion."

Statements from both Houston and Hillsong have previously sought to distance the church from the allegations, with Houston pointing out the abuse claims happened before Hillsong existed.

"The royal commission did not directly involve Hillsong church," the church board and elders said in a statement released last November. The abuse by Frank Houston "occurred many years before Hillsong Church existed."