The moment a son found out his father was a pedophile.


WARNING: This post deals with child abuse and may be distressing for some readers.

Brian Houston before the .inquiry

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.

Frank Houston.

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.


While he said he was in no doubt a criminal offense had taken place he thought it was up to the victim to come forwards.

“Rightly or wrongly I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were just to call the police,” he said.

“If he decides to go to the police he can, or if anyone else decides to go to the police they can.

“If this complaint was about someone who was under 18 then and there, I am absolutely certain we would have reported it to the police.

“We would have made sure that’s where it went.”

He told media outside the inquiry that it broke his heart but his pain was nothing compared to the victims.

On Tuesday the ABC reported that AHA gave evidence about the abuse that took place.

He said that in the 1970’s Frank Houston would stay with his family when he came to Sydney from New Zealand.

The Hillsong conference.

AHA was just seven years old at the time. He said the abuse continued until the reached puberty and Frank Houston wanted nothing further to do with him.

“Pastor Frank would creep into my room late at night, nearly every night of the week. I would be asleep when he came in and then I would wake up with him standing over me,” he said.

“When he was touching me inappropriately I would be petrified and would lay very still. I could not speak while this was happening. It felt like I couldn’t breathe.”

“We would sometimes go into an office alone where he would feel between my legs. I remember this happening at an evangelical camp at Windsor.”

The inquiry yesterday examined whether Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in being given the responsibility of dealing with the complaint against his father.

The ABC reports that Houston denied he did.

“Internally, definitely I was conflicted, if you are talking about coming to grips emotionally with what my father did,” he said.

“But if you are talking about defending my father, what he did was undefendable.

“I don’t feel that that was a consideration at all.”

The inquiry continues today.

If you need assistance help is out there.

 National Sexual Assault, domestic violence counseling service. 1800 737 732

Adults Surviving Child Abuse 1300 657 380

Bravehearts 1800 272 831

Lifeline  13 11 14

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