Victim says Brian Houston blamed him for 'tempting' his abusive father

Senior pastor of Hillsong Brian Houston has denied allegations that he blamed the victim of his father's sexual abuseInstagram / Hillsong

The alleged abuse victim of Frank Houston today told a public hearing that his son, Brian Houston, blamed him for being a temptation.

The victim, referred to as AHA, told Australia's sex abuse royal commission that Frank Houston was a family friend, and abused him while staying at his home between 1969 and 1970.

AHA described being "petrified" and laying "very still" in his bed when Houston came into his bedroom and sexually assaulted him, the Guardian reports.

"I could not speak while this was happening and felt like I couldn't breathe. It felt like forever," he added.

The victim said his abuser "lost interest" in him upon his reaching puberty. He was discouraged from pursuing legal action against Houston for fear of "turning people from the church and sending them to hell".

AHA told his mother about the abuse in the late 1970s, but "The Houstons were considered to be almost like royalty in [church] circles...I therefore did not pursue the matter any further," he said.

When his mother eventually raised the issue with an Assemblies of God (AoG) church 20 years later, a number of senior members of the AoG council were informed of Houston's abuse, including Brian.

However, AHA said his experience was downplayed and "the church community made me feel like it was my problem".

"I have received absolutely no support, no counselling, apology or acknowledgement of the abuse. I believe that Brian Houston and other elders of the Hillsong Church kept the abuse as quiet as they could, and have not been held accountable," he said.

In 2000, Frank Houston allegedly met with AHA in a McDonalds, and offered him $10,000 in return for the victim's "forgiveness".

However, when the money had not arrived two months later, AHA said he rang Brian, who, AHA claims, said: "You know it's your fault all of this happened – you tempted my father."

"Two weeks later a cheque with no covering note arrived in the mail," the Guardian reports.

The commission is meeting 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.

Before his death in 2004, Houston confessed to sexually abusing a boy three decades earlier and was immediately removed from ministry by Brian.

Further allegations have since come to light. Simeon Beckett, counsel assisting the commission, said during his opening statement today that AoG had kept quiet "substantial" allegations that Frank had sexually abused six boys.

At least 50 New Zealand pastors were apparently aware of these allegations but it was decided not to make them public.

Brian Houston gave a statement today denying AHA's recollection of his 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."

Brian has also described facing his father's crimes as "agonising," and branded the abuse "repulsive" in a statement on the Hillsong 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 added.

The investigation will also explore the response to allegations made against two other church men, Jonathan Baldwin and Kenneth Sandilands, in the 1980s and 1990s.