The founder of the Hillsong megachurch, Brian Houston, has stepped down from the church’s board two months after being charged by Australia police with concealing his late father’s sex offenses.
Houston has said that he will still be the church’s Global Senior Pastor in an internal email, People reported.
In the email, Houston did not cite his upcoming court case in Australia, saying instead that he had resigned so the board could function ‘to their fullest capacity during this season.’
‘I also wanted to let you know that I’ve made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations.
‘I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season.
‘This doesn’t change my role as Global Senior Pastor. I thought it was important to let our church family know in the interests of transparency, and I wanted you to hear it from me directly,’ the email obtained by People said.
He is set to appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on October 5, exactly two months after he was charged by New South Wales Police Force with concealing a serious indictable offense.
Brian Houston, has stepped down from the church’s board after being charged with concealing his late father’s sex offenses.
Houston’s father, 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. Pictured Pastor Frank Houston and wife Hazel
‘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 NSW police said.
The charges can carry a maximum penalty of up to five years’ imprisonment, depending upon the exact crime concealed.
Houston’s father, 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.
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 1999 abuse allegations raised against Frank Houston.
Brian Houston, then the president of the evangelical organization the Assemblies of God in Australia, allegedly confronted his father, who confessed, the royal commission’s final report said.
The inquiry said that instead of reporting the abuse to police, Houston allowed his father to go into retirement and gave money to the alleged victim.
Houston’s is the last in a series of sexual abuse and harassment allegations that have been raised against members of the megachurch, which operates in 28 different countries and was once highly popular among celebrities. Devoted Christians celebrating Easter Sunday at the Hillsong Church at Baulkham Hills in Sydney, 11 April 2004
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
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 said he felt ‘shame, fear and embarrassment’ for many years and suffered post-traumatic stress disorder.
Frank Houston died in 2004, age 82, after confessing to a ‘continuing problem’ of a sexual interest in young boys.
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 and that weeks after he became aware of the abuse, the victim told him he did not want to go public or approach the police.
The victim has previously disputed that.
Brian Houston claimed he is innocent and that the allegations took him by surprise.
‘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.’
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
Justin Bieber and Carl Lentz attend 2017 Aces Charity Celebrity Basketball Game at Madison Square Garden on August 13, 2017
Houston’s is the last in a series of sexual abuse and harassment allegations that have been raised against members of the megachurch, which operates in 28 different countries and was once highly popular among celebrities, including Justin Bieber and jailed footballer Jarryd Hayne.
Darnell Barrett, a 32-year-old pastor for Hillsong in Montclair, stepped down from his role in April over an Instagram story he posted of himself last month wearing nothing but white Nike Pro tights.
He then sent it to a 30-year-old woman who used to volunteer under him at the New Jersey church.
Barrett claimed it had been a mistake but admitted there was infidelity from his part in his marriage.
Barrett’s scandal came just six months after Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz was fired for cheating on his wife Laura with a New York City designer identified as Ranin Karim, 34.
Lentz baptized Bieber and even presided over his wedding.
The scandal appears to have impacted his relationship with Bieber and his wife Hailey, as both have since unfollowed him on Instagram.
Lentz was also accused by his former nanny of sexually assaulting her several times over the seven years she worked for him.
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