Trigger warning: this post relates to child sex abuse and may be distressing for some readers.
In October this year, Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about the day that he found out that his father was a paedophile. He said it was a day he would never forget. “I cried, went home”, he told the Commission.
Now the counsel assisting the Royal Commission, Simeon Beckett, has made clear exactly what Brian Houston should have done when he found out about his father’s paedophilia: call the police.
For his failure to report his father’s confession of sexual abuse of a 7 year old boy, and his management of the church’s response, the Commission’s most senior lawyer has concluded that Brian Houston should himself be referred to police.
Brian Houston giving evidence before the Inquiry
The Australian reports that Beckett found that Frank Houston’s confession could have been used to secure a conviction had Brian Houston taken the initiative to inform the police of the alleged abuse.
“As that information may relate to contravention of a law … it is submitted it is appropriate to refer Pastor Brian Houston’s conduct to the NSW Police Commissioner,” his submission concludes.
The victim – referred to as AHA – told the Royal Commission that Frank Houston had offered him $10,000, but when that money didn’t arrive, AHA phoned Brian Houston who allegedly said, “Yes, OK, I’ll get the money to you … You know, it’s your fault all this happened. You tempted my father.” Brian Houston says this conversation did not take place.
The now-deceased Pastor Frank Houston allegedly molested a young boy during the 1960s at a church camp.
The allegations surfaced in 1998 when AHA told pastors within the church. In 2000, Pastor Houston confessed his crimes to his son, who was the national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia at the time (a role which he held until 2009)
“It hit me in a ten second period in a wave because I was like ‘homosexual’ — getting my head around that. My consciousness went to hold on a minute we’re not just talking about you know homosexuality, we’re talking about paedophilia. So I can still remember it very clearly.”