Sex abuse pastor ‘still preached’

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston says he never discussed going to the White House with Scott Morrison.

Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston says he never discussed going to the White House with Scott Morrison. AAP

Soon after accused paedophile Frank Houston was stood down by his son Brian Houston – who now runs Hillsong Church – he was seen on TV preaching in Canberra, a witness has told a national inquiry.

Barbara Taylor, the evangelical pastor who told the Pentecostal movement in 1998 its honoured preacher Frank Houston was a child molester, says it took her months to get the abuser to take the matter seriously.

Frank Houston died in 2004 and had admitted to the sexual abuse of children in Australia and New Zealand.

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She also told a hearing of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that in June, 2000 she had written to Brian Houston about his father saying she had been told “a week after you said you were going to discipline him by standing him down he was preaching and prophetising over people in Canberra”.

Brian Houston wrote to her saying he was hurt by her letter and that Frank Houston was receiving “restoration counselling”.

He also asked her to contact him by phone in future, she said.

Pastor Taylor kept notes of her interactions with the abuse victim, known as AHA for legal reasons, and her dealings with members of the executive of the Assemblies of God (AoG) – the body to which Pentecostal churches are affiliated.

She wanted the matter settled by the church not the “secular courts”.

Brian Houston was national president of the AoG when allegations against his father surfaced.

In late 1998, 20 years after her son told her, the abuse victim’s mother informed Pastor Taylor about Frank Houston – the pastor who was treated like royalty by the devout family.

The commission on Wednesday was taken through Pastor Taylor’s notes recounting her attempts to organise a meeting between AHA and Frank Houston.


Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston. Photo: AAP

She had written to Frank Houston five months after the allegations were first raised and her many attempts to contact him failed. She said he rang and was angry “that I was pursuing him”.

Pastor Taylor also recorded AHA was extremely distressed the matter had become known but agreed to meet Frank Houston.

AHA told the commission on Tuesday Frank Houston offered him $10,000 during a meeting and asked his forgiveness. Some months after that he received a cheque from Brian Houston.

Pastor Taylor also said she wasn’t kept informed of the actions taken by Brian Houston or the AoG but she considered: “If he (Frank Houston) confessed to Brian he would have really meant it and Brian would have brought him to a place of repentance.”

Pastor Taylor said that at a later meeting with Brian Houston he told her it was a one-off incident by his father and commented the incident was about a “little boy who walked through a room without his clothes on”.

“I took it his father had trivialised the incident to Brian”.

The hearing continues.

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