Hillsong founder and leader Brian Houston will plead not guilty to the charges that he concealed child abuse allegations against his father, Frank Houston, according to his lawyer. Frank Houston, a once-renowned Pentecostal Christian pastor in New Zealand Australia, confessed to the abuse before he died in 2004.
Brett Sengstock was one of the former children who experienced abuse at the hand of Frank when he would stay with the Houston family on trips to Australia. Suffering from stage four cancer, Segstock opened up in an interview about the trauma he experienced by being sexually abused by Frank. He recounted how helpless he felt during the violation.
“I could not speak, I could not scream, I couldn’t push back, I just went rigid and I couldn’t breathe,” he revealed. The abuse occurred from the ages of seven through twelve. However, Sengstock did not reveal this secret to his mother until he was sixteen years old.
Her response stunned Sengstock. “She’d turn around and said that you don’t want to send people to hell and stop sending them to the church,” insinuating that his confession would bring criticism to the church and drive people away from the faith.
Unbeknownst to Brett, however, several years later his mother told the truth to church members. Frank Houston allegedly paid Sengstock $12,000 as a form of an apology for his actions.
An Australian inquiry claims that Houston became aware of his father’s sexual abuse scandals in 1999. Rather than reporting it to the police, the police allege that he let his father quietly retire.
Hillsong responded to the accusations. The church defended Houston by reiterating that his father never worked for the church and that he knew nothing about what happened.
“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,” read an official statement from the church.
According to its website, it has spread to 30 countries across six continents and estimates an average weekly global attendance of 150,000.