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Hillsong’s Brian Houston Is Found Not Guilty of Covering Father’s Sex Abuse Scandal

Hillsong’s Brian Houston Is Found Not Guilty of Covering Father’s Sex Abuse Scandal

Brian Houston, the founder and former global senior pastor of Sydney’s Hillsong Church, was acquitted on Thursday of charges related to concealing his father’s sexual abuse.

“A lot of people’s lives have been tragically hurt, and for that I’ll always be very sad,” Brian said outside the courthouse following the decision. “But I am not my father. I did not commit this offense.”

The verdict arrives almost two years after Houston was formally accused by the New South Wales Police Force for allegedly hiding child sex offenses against Brett Sengstock that were perpetrated by Frank Houston, Brian’s father and co-pastor.

Magistrate Gareth Christofi concluded that Houston’s actions were following the with Sengstock’s wishes, and he had a justifiable reason for not reporting his father’s sexual abuse to authorities after becoming aware of it in 1999.

Christofi shared there was “little doubt” the former pastor believed Sengstock wanted to keep the abuse quiet and “therefore had a reasonable excuse for not bringing the matter to the attention of police.”

Although Frank Houston confessed to the abuse before his passing, he was never formally charged. He died in 2004 at the age of 82.

Had he been found guilty, Brian Houston could have faced a maximum prison term of five years.

“I’ve been acquitted today, but, in truth, I’ve always been innocent,” Brian said outside the courthouse.

“I want to express my sadness to Brett Sengstock, genuine sadness about what my father did to him and all his victims,” he continued. “He was obviously a serial pedophile. We probably will never know the extent of his pedophilia.”

Brian also shared his belief that the charges against him were motivated by targeted animosity aimed at himself and Hillsong.

“If I wasn’t Brian Houston from Hillsong, this charge would of never had happened,” he said.

Sengstock also spoke outside the courthouse, saying, “Today, I have secured some measure of acknowledgment for the abuse suffered by a 7-year-old child, who was subjected to brutal mistreatment at the hands of a self-admitted child rapist and coward, Frank Houston. Irrespective of today’s outcome, I have been condemned to a life of suffering. Shifting blame onto the victim is as repugnant as the assaults themselves.”

In March 2022, Houston stepped down from his position at Hillsong after being placed on a disciplinary sabbatical due to issues of substance abuse and inappropriate conduct involving women.

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