Hillsong's Brian Houston to plead not guilty of concealing dad's abuse

Hillsong senior pastor Brian Houston(Instagram/hillsong)

The lawyer of Brian Houston says the Hillsong senior pastor will plead not guilty to charges of concealing his father's sexual abuse.

Houston was not present at a preliminary court hearing on Tuesday morning but said in August that the charges had come as "a shock" to him and that he was looking forward to clearing his name. 

"I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight," he said. 

New South Wales police pressed charges against the 67-year-old in August following a two-year investigation into what he knew about his father's abuse and when.

"Police will allege in court [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 police said.

Houston has always maintained that he acted properly in regards to the abuse committed by his father Frank Houston, who died in 2004. 

A statement released by Hillsong in July said that Houston "sought to honor the victim's multiple requests not to inform the police", and that he had acted in accordance with the law at the time.

"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," the statement reads. 

The case has gone to court just weeks after Houston stepped down from the board of Hillsong Church. 

"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," he said. 

The next court hearing in the case will take place on 23 November.