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Hillsong pastor Brian Houston charged for allegedly concealing child sexual abuse by his father

“We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time.”

Mr Houston preached in person at a service in Mexico in July and has been based in the US with his wife Bobbie Houston for several months, overcoming Australia’s strict COVID-19 border restrictions.

A spokesperson for the church said Mr Houston would return to Australia to attend court in October and fight the charge.

Frank Houston died in 2004.

Frank Houston died in 2004.

After learning last week of Mr Houston’s international travel, Police Minister David Elliott condemned the pastor for leaving his church during a pandemic.

“He is setting a shocking example to the millions of Australians forced into lockdown and I can’t think of a more hypocritical set of values for a so-called Christian leader,” Mr Elliott said.

“My phone has gone crazy given the challenges facing the very people he claims to offer pastoral care to.”

Mr Elliott said, despite Hillsong being in his electorate, he will “never step foot in it again as long as he [Mr Houston] is leader.”

Mr Houston is a friend to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, a committed Pentecostal Christian who put the pastor’s name forward to be invited to a White House state dinner with former US president Donald Trump in 2019. The request was denied by the hosts, The Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Speaking to radio station 2GB in March last year, Mr Morrison said Hillsong was a large and respected organisation in the US and “so well known that Brian was actually at the White House a few months after I was”.

A police investigation into Mr Houston was active at the time, launched in 2019 by officers at The Hills Police Area Command in north-west Sydney.

NSW Police said detectives received advice this week from the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions following a request on their brief of evidence regarding Mr Houston. Following further inquiries, police proceeded with the charge on Thursday.

Frank Houston, who died in 2004, has been accused of abusing nine boys while a Pentecostal preacher.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse found Brian Houston had failed to report the abuse after his father confessed to it in 1999.

Brett Sengstock, who endured Frank Houston’s abuse over five years in the 1960s and 1970s, has publicly condemned Brian Houston’s actions and accused him of covering up his father’s actions.

The Hillsong Church published a blog post last month in which it said Mr Houston found out about his father’s actions when he was 45 and Mr Sengstock was 37.

“Numerous other pastors and individuals had knowledge of this matter prior to Brian Houston learning about it,” the post said.

“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.”

The post claimed Mr Sengstock asked Mr Houston not to inform the police. Mr Sengstock has previously denied this.

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