Hillsong Church says documentary into Frank Houston's sex abuse is 'misleading'

Brett Sengstock (L) and Frank Houston (R)(9News)

Hillsong has issued a statement refuting claims made in an Australian current affairs show about the church and founder Brian Houston over his handling of sex abuse committed by his father while he was an Assemblies of God minister.

Channel Nine's 60 Minutes said it wanted to 'tell the story of the actions that protected the pedophile' Frank Houston.

It extensively interviewed Brett Sengstock, who previously testified before the Royal Commission about his experience of abuse using the pseudonym AHA.

For the 60 Minutes documentary, Sengstock waived his anonymity to speak about the abuse he suffered between the ages of 7 and 12, and to challenge Hillsong founder Brian Houston on how Frank Houston's crimes were dealt with.

He accused the Assemblies of God of not doing enough to support him spiritually after the abuse came to light and questioned why Frank Houston's actions had not been reported to the police.

'I would have expected some godly assistance, some help, maybe some counselling. It's just like it's been brushed under the carpet,' he said.

Brian Houston acted as National President of the Australia division - now called Australian Christian Churches - between 1997 and 2009, during which time claims of abuse against his father surfaced. 

Frank Houston, who died in 2004, was the head of Assemblies of God in New Zealand until 1971 and remained active in the denomination until he was removed from ministry by Brian after he confronted him about the allegations in 1999.

60 Minutes details how Assemblies of God dismissed Frank Houston after the abuse surfaced but it alleges that it 'never revealed the awful truth of Frank's crimes'.

In a statement, Hillsong Church said the claims in the documentary were 'misleading' and it denied any wrongdoing.

'Hillsong vehemently denies there was a lack of transparency or 'hiding' by its leadership of any of the issues surrounding the abuse committed against minors by Frank Houston,' it said.

The statement repeated previous assertions that the abuse was not reported to the police because it allegedly was not the wish of the victim.

As previously detailed, it is abundantly clear, through available evidence, that the victim was an adult in mid 30's when Hillsong Church and Brian Houston became aware of the abuse, and the victim did not want the matter reported to the police,' the statement read. 

Brian Houston previously told the Royal Commission during its inquiry in 2013 that he did not report the abuse to the authorities at the time because he felt that this should be done by the victim.

'Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be preempting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point,' he said.

In previous statements, Brian Houston said he reported the abuse to seniors in the Assemblies of God Australia as soon as he became aware of it, and immediately removed his father from ministry.

In its conclusions, the Royal Commission cited the failure of the Assemblies of God national executive and Brian Houston to report Frank Houston to the police, and said Brian Houston had a 'conflict of interest' in handling the abuse claims but no action was taken against him.

According to AOL.com, a police investigation into the Hillsong founder over his decision not to report his father has now been re-opened.