Police charges are a 'shock', says Hillsong's Brian Houston
Hillsong Senior Pastor Brian Houston has expressed his "shock" at police charges for allegedly "concealing child sex offences" committed by his late father Frank Houston.
New South Wales police pressed charges against the 67-year-old on Thursday.
"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 claims that he only came to know about his father's abuse 30 years after it happened.
In a statement to The Christian Post, he said, "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."
In a separate statement released on Friday, Hillsong Church said, "We are disappointed that Pastor Brian has been charged, and ask that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process as is his right."
The charges against Houston follow a two-year police investigation and a 2014 royal commission probe.
Friday's statement said it was the victim's wishes that the police not be informed.
"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 said.
"The statements made by the victim to the Royal Commission in 2014 corroborate this timeline and the fact that the victim did not want the matter reported to the police. 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."