Hillsong head allegedly told man abused by pastor abuse was his own fault

Hillsong - the suburban Sydney church that's grown into a globally recognised brand - is the latest religious institution to be caught up in the child sex abuse royal commission

SBS, Australia/October 7, 2014

By Manny Tsigas

Known for its rock'n'roll style of worship, Hillsong has transformed the image of Christianity. Its music has had number one hits in Australia and made the charts in the United States.

Allegations against one of the men who helped create the church that is now known as Hillsong were raised in the royal commission today.

It heard from a man who claims to have been abused by Pastor Frank Houston, a charismatic preacher who died in 2004.

His son, Brian Houston, a founder of Hillsong, who is also due to appear, was accused today of telling his father's alleged victim that the abuse he suffered was his own fault.

The victim, who can only be identified as AHA, told the hearing Brian Houston said to him during a phone conversation about the alleged abuse by Frank Houston: "Yes, okay, I'll get the money to you. There's no problem. You know, it's your fault all this happened. You tempted my father."

The alleged victim claims to have been touched sexually by Frank Houston when he stayed with his family more than 30 years ago.

"On this trip, Pastor Frank and Brian were staying in my sister's room," AHA told the commission.

"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.

"I remember when he was touching me in inappropriately I would be petrified and lay very still. I could not speak while this was happening and felt like I couldn't breathe."

AHA says the abuse at his home and at the different church meetings continued for years until he reached puberty.

When he told his mother years later, he said he was told not to tell.

"You don't want to be responsible for turning people from the church and sending them to hell," AHA said, quoting his mother.

In an earlier statement Brian Houston acknowledged the abuse committed by his father and the damage it had caused to the affected victims.

“I have been touched by the horrific act of child sexual abuse in a very personal way. Having to face the fact that my father engaged in such repulsive acts was – and still is – agonising,” the statement read.

In a second statement Brian Houston rejected AHA's allegations that he told him the abuse was his fault or that he had tried to cover up abuse allegations against his father Frank Houston..

"However I disagree with his perception of the phone call with me and I strongly refute that I - at any time - accused him of tempting my father. I would never say this and I do not believe this,” the statement read.

"At no stage did I attempt to hide or cover up the allegations against my father."

Brian Houston is due to appear before the commision to give his own evidence at a later date.

Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, Simeon Beckett, said the Executive of the New Zealand Assemblies of God churches had revealed ''substantial allegations'' that Frank Houston had touched the genitals of six boys.

The second part of the inquiry will examine allegations of child sexual abuse against Kenneth Sandilands, a former teacher at Northside Christian college.

Mr Beckett says the evidence is likely to show that over a 10 year period at the College, "allegations which amounted to or may have indicated child sexual abuse were received... from about 30 children."

The third part will examine allegations of child sexual abuse made in 2007 against a youth pastor at a Sunshine Coast church, Jonathan Baldwin.

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.

Educational DVDs and Videos