By SHAUNA ANDERSON
WARNING: This post deals with child abuse and may be distressing for some readers.
It was the day he found out his father was a pedophile.
A day he would never forget.
“I cried, went home,”
“I was devastated, to be honest with you, totally devastated.”
The man speaking is Brian Houston, the leader of the Hillsong Church and he is recounting to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse the day he was told his father had abused a seven-year old boy.
The now-deceased Pastor Frank Houston allegedly molested a young boy during the 1960s.
However the allegations only surfaced in 1998.
“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 pedophilia. So I can still remember it very clearly.”
The inquiry is hearing evidence that the Hillsong church ignored the rules when dealing with the abuse allegations against William Francis ‘Frank’ Houston – who founded the movement which eventually gave birth to the mega-church, Hillsong.
Brian Houston was national president of the Assemblies of God (AoG) in Australia from 1997 to 2009.
More than 1000 Pentecostal churches are affiliated to the AoG which is now commonly known as Australian Christian Churches.
In 2000 Brian Houston was president when his father admitted he sexually abused a boy in New Zealand 30 years earlier.
The response by the church was to fire him from his roles, but he died in 2004 at the age of 82 before charges could be laid.
The commission will hear also of allegations against two other men and will be looking at the response of the Australian Christian Churches to those allegations.
Brian Houston appeared before the inquiry yesterday and told of how he first heard of the allegations by AHA – the name the victim is known by – in 1999, but he did not inform police of the abuse.
He told the inquiry that as the victim was aged over 18 when the allegations came to light he did not want to pre-empt the victim.