Houston grilled whether dad deserved jail

Brian Houston has avoided telling a court whether he thought his father should have been jailed.

Brian Houston has avoided telling a court whether he thought his father should have been jailed. Photo: AAP

Hillsong founder Brian Houston has avoided telling a court whether he thought his father should have gone to jail after the elderly pastor confessed to sexually abusing a young boy.

Frank Houston admitted to his son he abused the boy, who was seven at the time, during a visit to his home in Sydney’s Coogee in 1970.

Houston has been charged with concealing the crime from 1999 until his father’s death in 2004, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Magistrate Gareth Christofi interjected in Houston’s cross-examination on Tuesday to inquire whether at the time he felt his father should have been incarcerated.

“Did you think your father should go to jail for what he’d done?” Mr Christofi asked.

“I knew that would always be a possibility till the day he died,” Houston responded.

The magistrate repeated the question, emphasising it was an issue of opinion.

“I hear your question and I can’t remember processing that thought,” Houston said.

Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison probed Houston about his intentions during discussions with the victim and a relative who was also a member of the church.

Earlier in the trial, the court heard from the victim who said in one phone call Houston had said to him, “You know this is all your fault. You tempted my father”.

Houston strongly denied the accusation under repeated questioning by Mr Harrison.

“I’ve told you twice, and I’ll tell you a third time, I did not say that,” Houston said.

“Who would say that about a seven-year-old boy, or 10-year-old boy, or whatever age he may have been? It’s just an absurd notion.”

Following his father’s confession, Houston informed a meeting of the church’s national executive who banned him from preaching. However, Houston told the court he did not go to police as it was not the victim’s wish to do so.

“At that time you certainly thought that if it did go to the criminal courts that your father was a high risk of going to jail?” Mr Harrison asked.

“I would have thought that, yes,” Houston replied.

Mr Harrison also put it to Houston that the reputation of the highly successful church he founded was put at risk by his father’s crime coming to light.

“If it was revealed that a church leader now was a pedophile it would damage the reputation of the church?” Mr Harrison asked.

“It would damage the reputation of the person. The church tends to be very resilient,” Houston replied.

On Monday, Houston told the court after hearing of other allegations against his father that were later revealed to him he had no doubt his father was a “serial pedophile”.

However, he added he did not believe his father was a risk of abusing any other children in the final years of his life and said he saw no evidence of abuse after the 1970s.

The hearing continues.


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