Brian Houston denies abuse compensation cover-up
Hillsong senior pastor Brian Houston has today denied claims that he tried to mask his involvement in paying 'compensation' to a man who was sexually abused as a child by his father.
Houston failed to mention his part in a $10,000 payment made to his father's victim in his statement to the royal commission ahead of its enquiry.
An investigation is currently under way to examine how the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) movement, formerly Assemblies of God, handled the allegations against Frank Houston when they came to light in 2000.
The victim, known as AHA, alleges that years after his abuse he met with Frank Houston in a McDonalds restaurant and was offered $10,000 in return for his "forgiveness".
However, when the money had not arrived two months later, AHA said he rang Brian Houston, who said: "You know it's your fault all of this happened – you tempted my father."
AHA told the commission earlier this week that he then asked Brian Houston if he himself had also been molested by his father, upon which he hung up the phone.
"Two weeks later a cheque with no covering note arrived in the mail," the Guardian reported.
Today, AHA's lawyer suggested that Brian Houston neglected to mention the money in his statement in an attempt to "hide" his role in its payment.
"The suggestion is wrong. No, I didn't do that," Houston replied, insisting that he had simply "forgotten about that part of the conversation".
"I wasn't involved in the payment of the money," he added.
On Tuesday, Houston also denied AHA's recollection of their phone call.
"I acknowledge the courage of the victim in taking the stand today to outline the trauma he has suffered by Frank Houston," he said.
"However I disagree with his perception of the phone call with me and I strongly refute that I – at any time – accused him of tempting my father. I would never say this and I do not believe this."
Houston has described facing his father's crimes as "agonising" and branded the abuse "repulsive" in a statement on Hillsong's website.
"However, as painful as this is for me, I can only imagine how much more pain these events caused to the victims, and my prayer is that they find peace and wholeness," he said.
Today, the Guardian reports that Houston said he immediately "confronted" his father upon finding out about the allegations.
"I went through the most horrific meeting of my life. I suspended him there and then, and I made sure he never preached again in his life. I feel very confident that I did the right thing," he said.