Hillsong 'disappointed' after police press charges against senior pastor Brian Houston

Brian Houston, Senior Global Pastor of Hillsong Church, has been formally charged after a two-year investigation.Hillsong

Hillsong's founding pastor Brian Houston has been charged with allegedly concealing information about his father's child sexual abuse.

It follows a two-year investigation by police in New South Wales, Australia. 

The abuse was perpetrated by his late father Frank Houston in the 1970s prior to Brian and his wife Bobbie Houston founding Hillsong in 1983.

In a statement issued last month, he insisted that he did not find out about the abuse until 30 years after the event.

"Pastor Brian Houston found out about his father's criminal actions toward the victim when Brian was 45 years old and the primary victim was 37 years old. Frank Houston's criminal actions were committed when this victim was a child, nearly 30 years prior. Numerous other pastors and individuals had knowledge of this matter prior to Brian Houston learning about it," the statement reads.

"Upon being told of his father's actions, Brian Houston confronted his father, reported the matter to the National Executive Assemblies of God in Australia, relayed the matter to the governing board of Sydney Christian Life Centre, and subsequently made a public announcement to the church. Brian sought to honor the victim's multiple requests not to inform the police."

It continued, "The law at the time granted an exception to reporting a crime of this nature when a person had a reasonable excuse not to report. This state law has since further clarified that this type of situation–when an adult victim of child abuse explicitly does not want the matter reported–qualified as a reasonable excuse under the law." 

But police in New South Wales allege that Brian Houston knew about his father's abuse much earlier and failed to report it the authorities.

"Police will allege in court the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police," NSW police said in a statement.

In response, Hillsong said in a statement that it is "disappointed" by the charges brought against the 67-year-old.

The Sydney-based church also asks "that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right".

"He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name," the statement said.

"Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements.

"We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time."