Defrocked Houston kept giving sermons, court told

Brian Houston said he helped arrange a $10,000 payment after his father gave $2000 to his victim.

Brian Houston said he helped arrange a $10,000 payment after his father gave $2000 to his victim. Photo: AAP

Stripped of his credentials to minister after his son learned he sexually abused children, paedophile pastor Frank Houston continued leading church sermons until weeks before his death.

Hillsong founder Brian Houston took away his father’s credentials in late 1999 after he admitted he had abused children.

Houston later gave media interviews where he said his father never preached again.

However, eight weeks before Houston senior died in 2004, he was still ministering, leading a sermon at a church in the NSW Hunter region.

After retiring to the Central Coast he also preached and prayed for those attending a local church.

Children were among the congregations, including young boys whose appearance Houston commented on, theorising what they may look like when they were older.

Frank Houston ‘at his best’ behind pulpit

Brian Houston, 68, has pleaded not guilty to concealing his father’s crimes, arguing the person his father admitted to abusing did not want an investigation, and was an adult who could have reported it to police themselves by the time he found out.

Maitland church pastor Robert Cotton said Houston was “at his best” as a preacher and entertainer when he led a sermon weeks before he was stripped of his credentials.

Over the next few years Mr Cotton tried to have him return, only to be told by Houston’s daughter and personal assistant that he was not taking bookings.

He did not ask why.

“If you had been told no by the Houstons you didn’t question it,” Mr Cotton told the Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday.

Houston Sr widely known in Pentecostal churches

He said he never would have allowed Houston to preach again in 2004 if he knew he was a paedophile.

Greg Morris, the former business manager of the church Houston and his wife Hazel joined on the Central Coast, said there was a sense of honour about the pair attending.

Houston senior was widely known in Pentecostal churches.

“Godfather’s not the right term, but (he was) highly revered … highly respected,” Mr Morris said.

Houston gave three or four sermons and prayed for those attending in late 2002 and early 2003, Mr Morris said.

Young people were also present at the “family church” when Houston ministered.

Thought ‘moral failure’ related to adultery

Mr Morris was the church’s contact with the NSW Office of the Children’s Guardian.

He said he did not learn Houston senior was a paedophile until after his death.

Mr Morris believed a “moral failure” he learned of related to adults, thinking Houston may have cheated on his wife, a “not uncommon” reason a pastor might lose their credential to minister.

Houston’s lawyer Phillip Boulten SC said those within the Central Coast church who attended the 2002 Hillsong conference would have heard Houston addressing his father’s abuse in a sermon, prior to him preaching at the church.

Heard nothing about child sexual abuse

Mr Morris said some church congregants typically attended the conference but maintained he’d heard nothing about child sexual abuse.

Houston also gave media interviews addressing his father’s abuse after his death.

In a press conference played to the court, Houston said he was unaware of any requirement to report a crime when he learned of the abuse.

In another interview with 2GB broadcaster Ben Fordham he explained why he didn’t report to authorities in 1999 on behalf of the abuse survivor, who was by then an adult.

“I just genuinely believed that … if he wants to go to the police he can go to the police,” Houston said in a recording played to the court.

Houston said his father’s days as a minister were over after he learned of the abuse in 1999 and took action against him.

“He never preached again, anywhere,” Houston said.

The hearing continues.


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