(CP) Less than two weeks after Reed Bogard abruptly resigned as lead pastor of the now-defunct Hillsong Dallas in January 2021, an internal investigation commissioned by Hillsong Global said that the married father of three was accused of rape by a junior female staffer with whom he had a monthlong affair while serving at Hillsong NYC years earlier.
The former junior Hillsong NYC staffer who asked not to be publicly named in this report when contacted by The Christian Post, said she has been trying to move on with her life. She confirmed she participated in a deposition concerning the allegation but would not say anything more than what was already included in the report.
"I think at this stage ... I'm not going to comment. Everything that you have in that deposition is obviously something that I did, and I said in the context of a legal deposition. I think I just want to leave it at that."
The findings of the investigation conducted by the New York City law firm Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, LLP, are highlighted in a report reviewed by CP. The investigation was commissioned by Hillsong Global in October 2020, shortly after senior church officials first learned that the former junior staffer alleged that her first act of sexual intercourse with Bogard in his car after a late night out together was non-consensual.
Hillsong leaders were made aware years earlier of a sexual relationship between the two parties, but an investigation was not conducted by the church at the time. Church leaders were led to believe the relationship was consensual and "consequences to both [parties] were meted out accordingly," investigators revealed.
The report was submitted to George Aghajanian, general manager and a director of Hillsong Church Australia and its international entities, on Jan. 11, 2021.
It shows that Hillsong Church Australia first learned of the sexual affair between Bogard and the junior staff member in the second half of 2014. The relationship began in September 2013 and continued through the beginning of January 2014.
"At the time, the Church did not conduct any meaningful inquiry into the details or circumstances of the affair, and no one with appropriate training was assigned to look into matters," investigators noted.
When contacted about the report in February, Hillsong Church said Brian Houston, who resigned Wednesday after it was revealed that two women made serious complaints of misconduct against him in the last 10 years, was not aware of the rape claims against Bogard when he was chosen to lead Hillsong Dallas in 2019. Houston is currently facing criminal charges for allegedly concealing sex abuse committed by his father decades earlier.
"Brian Houston categorically denies he had knowledge of this serious allegation when Reed Bogard was selected as the Lead Pastor for Dallas," Hillsong Church said in a statement to CP. "Hillsong Church has enormous compassion for the other party involved in this situation. We have been in regular contact with her and she has asked to remain anonymous. We ask that the media and all other parties respect and protect her privacy."
As the coronavirus swept the world in late 2020, the church learned that the affair didn't start out consensually. The report states that the junior staffer "resurfaced the issue" in October 2020, six years after initially confessing to having a consensual relationship.
"More than six years later, on or about October 2020, Hillsong Church Australia learned of additional allegations concerning Ms. [redacted] and Mr. Bogard's affair. Specifically, in discussions with certain leaders of Hillsong NYC, Ms. [redacted] asserted to them, apparently for the first time, that her sexual experience with Mr. Bogard, at least initially, had not been consensual," the report said in a summary. "For the first time, Ms. [redacted] stated that at least in their initial sexual intercourse, Mr. Bogard had raped her."
Investigators at Zukerman Gore said while it might be too late for Bogard's accuser to seek civil damages against him or the church for what happened to her, "a criminal complaint for rape might still be timely, though that would not be expected to implicate the Church itself."
There was no indication from the investigation that the rape allegation was reported to law enforcement. In 2019, New York state extended the state statute of limitations for reporting second-degree rape to 20 years and third-degree rape to 10 years.
Investigators noted in the report that: "It is difficult if not impossible to say with certainty whether the initial sexual acts between Mr. Bogard and Ms. [redacted] occurred notwithstanding an express, verbal objection ('No') uttered by Ms. [redacted] in the moment."
Zukerman Gore Brandeis & Crossman, LLP, did not respond to requests for comment.
Bogard, who now works as a director of business development for Keller Williams in Michigan, said he was done with all things Hillsong as well.
"I don't have any comment on that. I'm not going to discuss anything. I have nothing to do with Hillsong anymore ... I haven't been a part of that organization for over a year," he said when contacted by CP.
Read the full report at The Christian Post
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