Hillsong founder Brian Houston steps down from church board ahead of court case

Brian and Bobbie Houston lead worship at HillsongHillsong

The founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, has announced his decision to step down from the board ahead of a court case into what he knew about his father's abuse.

The announcement comes not long after charges were brought against him for allegedly concealing knowledge of sexual abuse perpetrated by his late father, Frank Houston.

Brian Houston, who denies the charges, will remain in post as Hillsong's senior pastor.

The 67-year-old confirmed his resignation from the board in an email to Hillsong members on Friday, PEOPLE magazine reports.

"I also wanted to let you know that I've made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations," he wrote.

"I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season. This doesn't change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly." 

In announcing the charges, New South Wales police contended that Houston "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." 

The charges were brought following a two-year investigation by the police.

Responding to the charges, Houston said in a statement: "These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I've always been about this matter. I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight."

Frank Houston's abuse dates back to the 1970s - before Brian and his wife Bobbie founded Hillsong in 1983 - and was probed by the Royal Commission in 2014. 

It is alleged that Brian Houston and other Hillsong leaders became aware of his father's abuse in 1999 but did not report this to the police. 

In a statement, Hillsong said that the victim did not want the abuse reported to the authorities

"Brian sought to honor the victim's multiple requests not to inform the police," the church said. 

"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." 

Houston is due to come before a Sydney court on October 5.