Hillsong founder Brian Houston is charged with allegedly concealing his father Frank's sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s after years-long investigation by police

 The founder of the Hillsong megachurch, Brian Houston, has been charged with allegedly concealing his father's sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s. 

In a statement, the NSW Police Force confirmed detectives had served a court attendance notice on 67-year-old Houston's lawyer in Sydney about 2pm on Thursday.  

The charge against Houston - who has recently led prayer services in Monterrey, Mexico - is one of concealing a serious indictable offence. 

It can carry a maximum penalty of up to five years' imprisonment, depending upon the exact crime concealed. 

The sensational development follows a years-long investigation by police in the city's Hills District, where the global Pentecostal church first opened its doors. 

'Police will allege in court the man 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,' a statement said. 

Brian Houston released a statement about the charge on Thursday night. 

'These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,' he said. 

'I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.' 

NSW Police began investigating Brian Houston after a 2014 royal commission into child sexual abuse delved into how Hillsong's forerunners - the Hills and Sydney Christian Life Centres - handled abuse allegations raised against Frank in 1999.  

Sins of the father: In 1999, Frank Houston was accused of abusing a seven-year-old Sydney boy in the 1970s. He died in 2004 aged 82

Sins of the father: In 1999, Frank Houston was accused of abusing a seven-year-old Sydney boy in the 1970s. He died in 2004 aged 82

Brian and Bobbie Houston's Hillsong empire has outposts in 28 countries and has attracted a celebrity following but has been beset by scandal in recent year

Brian and Bobbie Houston's Hillsong empire has outposts in 28 countries and has attracted a celebrity following but has been beset by scandal in recent year

Two of the church's most famous parishioners were pop star Justin Bieber (who no longer follows the church) and its celebrity pastor Carl Lentz (who was ousted in a sex scandal)

Two of the church's most famous parishioners were pop star Justin Bieber (who no longer follows the church) and its celebrity pastor Carl Lentz (who was ousted in a sex scandal)

Then, Frank Houston was accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old boy from Sydney's east during trips from his native New Zealand three decades' prior, in 1969 and 1970. 

After learning of the allegations, Brian Houston, then the president of the evangelical organisation the Assemblies of God in Australia, confronted his father, who confessed, the royal commission's final report said, and ended his dad's career as a preacher. 

However, the inquiry found that neither Houston nor the organisation's national executive referred the Frank Houston sex abuse allegations to police. 


Instead, the victim told the commission he met Frank Houston at a McDonald's restaurant in Thornleigh in 2000 and was offered a dirty napkin to sign in exchange for $10,000. 

The victim later called Brian Houston as he hadn't received the promised money,  and later received a $10,000 cheque in the mail, with no correspondence attached.  

The victim said he felt 'shame, fear and embarrassment' for many years and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. 

Houston Sr died in 2004, age 82, after confessing to a 'continuing problem' of a sexual interest in young boys. He was never charged by police. 

Brian Houston told the royal commission he did not report his dad to police as the victim was 35 or 36 years of age at the time the allegations surfaced. 

Brian Houston also claimed that, weeks after he became aware of the abuse, the victim had told him he did not want to go public or approach the police.  

Brian Houston has been charged by Australian police - with his lawyer handed a notice on Thursday instructing the megachurch founedr to attend Sydney's Downing Centre Court in October

Brian Houston has been charged by Australian police - with his lawyer handed a notice on Thursday instructing the megachurch founedr to attend Sydney's Downing Centre Court in October

Houston with former NRL and NFL footballer Jarryd Hayne during a trip to the United States

Houston with former NRL and NFL footballer Jarryd Hayne during a trip to the United States

Scandal: Pastor Darnell Barnett, 32, resigned as creative director of Hillsong's Montclair, New Jersey chapter on Tuesday after admitting to sharing explicit photos of himself on Instagram last month
The Christian church leader stepped down after he was accused of posting photos of himself wearing nothing but white Nike Pro workout tights which outlined his large manhood

Scandal: Darnell Barnett, 32, resigned as creative director of Hillsong's Montclair, New Jersey chapter in April after posting lewd photos (right) of himself wearing nothing but white Nike Pro workout tights which outlined his large manhood

Gone: Carl Lentz and his wife Laura were Hillsong's golden couple - but have both since left

Gone: Carl Lentz and his wife Laura were Hillsong's golden couple - but have both since left 

The Hillsong Church released the following statement on Thursday night. 

'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. 

'He has advised us that he will defend this and looks forward to clearing his name. Given that this matter is now before the court, neither Pastor Brian or Hillsong Church will be making further statements. We thank all who are a part of our church for their support and prayers at this time.' 

The charge against Pastor Houston will send shockwaves through the global evangelical empire Brian and wife Bobbie have built. 

The church operates in 28 different countries, has boasted of celebrity followers - formerly including Justin Bieber and jailed footballer Jarryd Hayne - and has its own record label. 

More recently Hillsong has been shaken by scandals including celebrity New York pastor Carl Lentz being sensationally sacked after admitting cheating on his wife.   

A married pastor in New Jersey resigned in April when DailyMail.com revealed that he had shared lewd photographs on Instagram. 

Hillsong church was founded in Sydney's north-west and since become a global phenomenon. Above, its best known site, in the suburb of Norwest

Hillsong church was founded in Sydney's north-west and since become a global phenomenon. Above, its best known site, in the suburb of Norwest

The charge will also have political consequences in Australia. 

In 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that he had sought an invitation for Brian Houston to attend a state dinner at Donald Trump's White House. 

The NSW Police investigation into Brian Houston was public knowledge at the time.

Police sources said the decision to charge Houston came after the agency received advice from state's Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. 

The prosecution brief has been with the DPP for several months.   

Hillsong founder Brian Houston is charged with allegedly concealing his father Frank's sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s after years-long investigation by police Hillsong founder Brian Houston is charged with allegedly concealing his father Frank's sexual abuse of a child in the 1970s after years-long investigation by police Reviewed by STATION GOSSIP on 06:11 Rating: 5

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