Houston ‘vague’ about abusing children

Brian Houston won't be paid costs after his acquittal on a charge of concealing his father's abuse.

Brian Houston won't be paid costs after his acquittal on a charge of concealing his father's abuse. Photo: AAP

Disgraced former pastor Frank Houston admitted he sexually abused children to other executives in Australia’s Pentecostal church network after his son raised allegations with him, a Sydney court has heard.

Former national secretary of the Assemblies of God in Australia (AOG) Keith Ainge said he was present when Frank Houston was confronted with allegations dating back to his time in New Zealand.

Hillsong founder Brian Houston has pleaded not guilty to concealing his father’s abuse until his death in 2004 after he confessed it to him in 1999.

Phillip Boulten SC is arguing Houston had a reasonable excuse not to report it to authorities, believing the survivor of his father’s abuse did not want it investigated.

Houston also addressed his father’s abuse in multiple sermons attended by thousands of people and broadcast on television before his 2004 death, Mr Boulten said.

Following an urgent meeting at an airport in late 1999 when Houston, then the national president of the AOG, told other executives about his father’s abuse, some were dispatched to New Zealand where they learned of other cases.

Frank Houston had already been stripped of his credential to minister by his son before that meeting.

By the time Mr Ainge and other AOG executives attended Houston senior’s Beecroft home in 2000, they had learned the names of more boys he had abused.

Houston admitted specifically to one instance, but claimed to have no memory of others.

“He was given the names of the people and with most of them he couldn’t remember anything about it, but with one he did say: ‘Oh yeah something did happen,’ but he was pretty vague,” Mr Ainge told  Downing Centre Local Court on Tuesday.

Houston told them “I was having some issues at the time” he abused the boys, Mr Ainge said.

He said he got the impression from Houston’s reaction that his cognitive function was deteriorating due to dementia.

Magistrate Gareth Christofi asked Mr Ainge if he got that impression because Houston was being vague about admitting to abusing children decades earlier.

“He didn’t seem like himself in the way he was reacting,” Mr Ainge said.

Houston was asked if he had abused other children since the time he was having “issues”.

“His response was no, there were no others,” Mr Ainge said.

“Did that reassure you?” Mr Christofi asked.

It did not, Mr Ainge said.

The hearing continues.


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