NSW Police continues investigation into actions of Hillsong preacher Brian Houston
Hillsong Church founder Pastor Brian Houston. Photo: AAP
Brian Houston, the Hillsong preacher that Prime Minister Scott Morrison is accused of attempting to bring to the White House, remains under police investigation for failing to report his father’s sexual abuse of children.
In a statement to The New Daily, NSW Police confirmed that Brian Houston remains the subject of a probe over his handling of the sex crimes committed by his father, Frank Houston.
In July, NSW police confirmed “the matter continues to be investigated by officers attached to The Hills Police Area Command”.
“No further comment will be made while the investigation is ongoing,” police said.
On Sunday, police confirmed Pastor Houston remains under investigation.
Pastor Houston is a founder of the Hillsong Church. Photo: AAP
One victim, Brett Sengstock, has previously told 60 Minutes that Brian Houston’s father climbed into his bed for five years until he was 12 and it felt “like he was murdered”.
Frank Houston confessed to the crimes after his son confronted him, but Brian Houston is accused of not reporting the matter to police.
Years later, one of the boys was allegedly offered $10,000 in exchange for his signature on a dirty napkin at a meeting with Frank Houston and Hillsong Church elder Nabi Saleh at Thornleigh McDonald’s in 2000.
Brian Houston is believed to have directly confronted his father over the allegations and sought his resignation. But he did not tell the police.
He is also accused of allowing his father to quietly leave the church.
“We are satisfied that, in 1999 and 2000, Pastor Brian Houston and the national executive of the Assemblies of God in Australia did not refer the allegations of child sexual abuse against Mr Frank Houston to the police,” the commissioners wrote in their report.
“We consider that a conflict of interest first arose when Pastor Brian Houston decided to respond to the allegations by confronting his father while simultaneously maintaining his roles as national president (of the Assemblies of God in Australia) and senior pastor.
“The commissioners express the view that the NSW executive failed to appoint a contact person for the complainant, interview the complainant, have the state or national executive interview the alleged perpetrator, or record any of the steps it took.”
At the time, Hillsong defended the actions of Pastor Brian Houston as designed with the best interests of the victim in mind.
Scott Morrison at his Pentecostal church in Sydney on Easter Sunday. Photo: AAP
Over the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Mr Morrison sought to include Mr Houston in the official program and was rebuffed by the White House.
The PM’s office did not deny the report, but noted that an official invitation to the state dinner was at the discretion of the White House.
At a press conference at the White House, Mr Morrison refused to comment on whether he had sought to include him on the invitation list.
“I don’t comment on gossip, honestly,” Mr Morrison said.
“It’s all gossip. I think I’ve answered the question.”
The royal commission found Mr Houston had failed a victim by not reporting allegations against his father, Frank, to police.
Frank Houston, who died in 2004, confessed to sexually abusing the boy in New Zealand.
Mr Houston, founder of the multibillion-dollar pentecostal Hillsong Church, told The New Daily on Saturday that he never discussed the prospect of going to the White House with “the Prime Minister, or anyone else”.
“Hillsong Church received no enquiry from any party as to my details or availability,” Mr Houston said.
“As far as I’m concerned this is baseless rumour and totally false news.
“It is extremely disappointing that media outlets spread these unfounded rumours, and attempts to link this untrue story to the royal commission are unconscionable.”
Frank Houston is accused of abusing up to nine boys in Australia and New Zealand.