Royal Commission 01: The Submission – AOG/ACC & Hillsong Exposed

The Royal Commission has exposed in case study 18: conflict of interest, shortcomings and mismanagement by the AOG/ACC executive and its then President, Brian Houston, when handling the Frank Houston child sex abuse allegations.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse - Case Study 18:  a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18: a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

They ignored policy and procedure and as a result of the public hearing, the Royal Commission submission has recommended Brian Houston be referred to the NSW Police.

This article is part of a series that looks at the AOG’s and Brian Houston’s response in light of the Royal Commission submissions. Of particular interest is:

a. Child sex abuse by Frank Houston that occurred in Australia (AHA victim).
b. Brian Houston and Hillsong’s public information management of Frank Houston’s paedophilia 
    and how Brian dealt with it.

Although AHA’s abuse was in Sydney, the reinforced, common misconception is that all of Frank Houston’s  child sex abuse occurred in New Zealand over 30 years before the allegations were made, and before Frank came to Australia. The AHA case also highlights AOG management shortcomings and the attempt to cover it up.

Royal Commission examine Hillsong Brian Houston

Royal Commission:

Hillsong Church, Assemblies of God and Frank Houston (AHA Matter)

Brief Background

Child sex abuse victim, AHA, is Australian, and the abuse took place in Sydney over several years at his home and on church premises by Frank Houston, from 1969/70 onwards.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18, conducted a public hearing concerned with the institutional response to child sexual abuse of the Australian Christian Churches (ACC) and its affiliated churches.

Of particular interest is how the AHA allegation was handled by the AOG/ACC executive and Brian Houston who was president at the time, as well as Snr Pastor of the affiliated church/s and son of Frank Houston.

Brian Houston was Snr Pastor of both Sydney CLC and Hills CLC churches when the allegations of Frank Houston’s child sex abuse were raised with him in 1999. Since the scandal, these churches were merged and renamed Hillsong Church (2001), and AOG was renamed ACC. This background information is tabled in the Introduction of the submission.

RCFactFile01- Brian Houston Hillsong

About the Royal Commission Submission

Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission, prepared a submission which provides some background, an overview, a summary of evidence/responses/facts ascertained, and “Available Findings”. It is plain reading, easy to follow and cuts to the significant points of the hearing. It covers

PARTA: Hillsong Church, Assemblies of God and Frank Houston
PART B: Northside Christian College and Kenneth Sandilands
PART C: Sunshine Coast and Jonathan Baldwin
PART D: Australian Christian Churches

Parts A and D are the areas relating to the matter of Frank Houston and how Brian Houston and the AOG executive handled the AHA matter.

The excerpt below is from the submission prepared by Simeon Beckett, Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission on 14 November 2014. It only includes sections that cover the Australian abuse case of AHA and the AOG/ACC response (ie. most of Part A and some of Part D). It is shorter and has some points highlighted.

Our emphasis has been added, using red and bold.

It is highly recommended to read the original submission. The submission, along with other RC documents, statements, evidence and transcripts can be found at the website:
Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse – Case Study 18


ROYAL COMMISSION INTO INSTITUTIONAL RESPONSES TO CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE, AT SYDNEY
COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA.    CASE STUDY 18 SUBM.0018.001.0001

THE RESPONSE OF AUSTRALIAN CHRISTIAN CHURCHES AND AFFILIATED PENTECOSTAL CHURCHES TO ALLEGATIONS OF CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

SUBMISSIONS OF COUNSEL ASSISTING THE ROYAL COMMISSION

….   

INTRODUCTION

….   

Part A of the submissions examines child sexual abuse allegations which arose in 1998 and 1999 against Frank Houston, the founder of Sydney Christian Life Centre (later part of Hillsong Church). The public hearing focused on the responses of Sydney and Hills Christian Life Centres and the Assemblies of God to the allegations. Frank Houston’s son, Pastor Brian Houston, was at the time both the Senior Pastor at Sydney and Hills Christian Life Centres and the National President of the Assemblies of God in Australia.

Part D considers the response of the Assemblies of God and its successor, the Australian Christian Churches, to the child sexual abuse allegations set out in the scope and purpose in light of its systems, polices, practices and procedures for the reporting of and responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. The Royal Commission heard from the State Presidents for New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland and the National President, Pastor Wayne Alcorn.

….

Part A: HILLSONG CHURCH, ASSEMBLIES OF GOD AND FRANK HOUSTON

Overview

23. In 1998 and 1999 allegations were made that Frank Houston had sexually abused a child (AHA) in about 1969 while visiting Australia from New Zealand to preach. At the time the allegations were made Frank Houston was the Senior Pastor of Sydney Christian life Centre, an affiliated Church of Assemblies of God. At the same time Frank Houston’s son, Pastor Brian Houston, was the Senior Pastor of Hills Christian life Centre, also an affiliated Church of Assemblies of God, and National President of the Assemblies of God. This part of the public hearing examined the response of Hillsong Church (and its predecessors) and the Assemblies of God to the allegations of child sexual abuse.

24. On 4 November 1998 Pastor John McMartin, a State Executive member of the New South Wales Assemblies of God at the time, was informed of allegations of child sexual abuse against a Senior Pastor of the Assemblies of God but was not informed of the complainant’s name or that the perpetrator was Frank Houston. In September 1999 Pastor McMartin was informed that the perpetrator was Frank Houston but he did not commence the process under the established complaints process of t he Assemblies of God as, he said, he required a written complaint to do so.

25. Pastor Brian Houston was told about allegations of ‘child molestation’ against his father, Frank Houston in October 1999. Pastor Brian Houston confronted his father with the allegation in mid November 1999 and Frank Houston confessed to ‘fondling genitals’ and said that it was a ‘one off occasion.’ In late 1999 Pastor Brian Houston suspended his father’s minister’s credentials, and the decision to do so was affirmed by the National Executive at a Special Executive Meeting of the Assemblies of God held on 22 December 1999. The National Executive placed conditions on t he suspension, but permitted him to be restored to ministry after two years on recommendation of the New South Wales Superintendant. Pastor Brian Houston was directed to convey the decisions of the National Executive to Frank Houston and AHA.

26. In November 2000 the National Executive of the Assemblies of God responded to further allegations against Frank Houston by a New Zealand victim, received by Pastor Brian Houston. Two National Executive members of the Assemblies of God met with the New Zealand Executive of the Assemblies of God and learnt of further allegations that Frank Houston had touched the genitals of six boys about 30 years ago. The two members of the National Executive of the Assemblies of God met with Frank Houston, confronted him about the allegations and Frank Houston admitted to some of the allegations. He was told he would never minister again.

27. The first public announcement by the Assemblies of God about the discipline of Frank Houston was made by letter to all Ordained and Probationary Ministers of the Assemblies of God dated 24 December 2001 explaining that Frank Houston has admitted to a ‘serious moral failure’ and that Pastor Brian Houston had suspended his father’s credentials.

1. Frank Houston

28. Frank Houston was ordained as a New Zealand Salvation Army officer in the 1940s. He left the Salvation Army after about 12 years to establish an Assemblies of God church in Lower Hutt, New Zealand in 1959.28 From 1965 to 1971 he occupied the top position of Superintendent of the Assemblies of God New Zealand. 29 Frank Houston came to Australia on occasion during those years in order to preach. [30]

29. AHA was seven years old in 1969 and at that time his fam ily was heavily involved in the Assemblies of God movement in Sydney, New South Wales. 31 His family were good friends with Frank Houston and he often visited from New Zealand to preach.

32. In 1969 and 1970, Frank Houston came and stayed in AHA’s home in Sydney, sometimes accompanied by his family. In January 1970, Frank Houston stayed with AHA’s family for almost a week. [33]

30. In 1977, Frank Houston moved to Australia and established the Sydney Christian Life Centre. He was the Senior Pastor[34] and the Church was affiliated with the Assemblies of God. In 1978 Frank Houston’s son and daughter-in-law, Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston, joined the ministry at Sydney Christian Life Centre. [35]

2. Hillsong Church

30. In 1983 Pastors Brian and Bobbie Houston founded the Hills Christian Life Centre which was also affiliated with the Assemblies of God. [36] Pastor Brian Houston’s popularity as the Church’s Senior Pastor grew dramatically and Hills Christian Life Centre enjoyed success because of its ability to draw large numbers of congregants. [37] In 1997, Pastor Brian Houston became the National President of the Assemblies of God, a position which he held until 2009. [38]

31. Pastor Brian Houston said that his father spoke to him over a number of years about assuming the position of Senior Pastor at Sydney Christian Life Centre. In May 1999, Frank Houston suddenly retired from the position of Senior Pastor at Sydney Christian Life Centre and asked Pastor Brian Houston to take over his position. [39]

32. Pastor Brian Houston was the only nominee for Senior Pastor put to the Board of Sydney Christian Life Centre for approval. 4 ° From May 1999 Pastor Brian Houston was the Senior Pastor of both churches for a period of 18 months. [41] In that year the two churches merged and in 2001 were renamed Hillsong Church.[42] Today Hillsong Church is an affiliate of the Australian Christian Churches, successor of the Assemblies of God. [43]

… Relevant Excerpts from Administration Manual

4. Sexual Abuse of AHA by Frank Houston

37. In January 1970 Frank Houston stayed with AHA’s family for almost a week when AHA was about 8 years old.[52] AHA said that Frank Houston came into his room ‘nearly every night of the week’ while he was sleeping and touched him inappropriately.[53] AHA said that the touching involved Frank Houston lying on top of him, placing his hands on his genitals, masturbating him and inserting a finger into AHA’ s anus. [54] He said that abuse of this nature occurred on more than one occasion. [55]

38. AHA sa id that the abuse also occurred when he and his family went to different churches with Frank Houston. AHA sometimes went into an office alone with Frank Houston who felt between AHA’s legs. This also occurred at an evangelical camp in Windsor. [56]

39. AHA said that the abuse in his home and at the different churches continued over a period of years. It stopped when he reached puberty. [57]

Disclosure of Sexual Abuse and Contact with Frank Houston

40. In 1978, when he was 16, AHA told his mother t hat Frank Houston had sexually abused him.[58] She said to AHA that she was concerned about the effect of such a disclosure on the Church because of Frank Houston’s considerable standing in the Assemblies of God movement. As a result AHA did not pursue the allegations at that time. [59]

41. Pastor Barbara Taylor was the Senior Pastor at the Assemblies of God affiliated Emmanuel Christian Family Church from 1977. [60] In mid-1998 AHA’s mother asked Pastor Taylor to come to her home. [61] She told Pastor Taylor that when AHA was seven years old Frank Houston had put his hands down AHA’s pyjamas and touched him inappropriately while staying with her family. [62] AHA’s mother asked Pastor Taylor not to disclose the information and Pastor Taylor agreed she would not. [63]

42. At an evangelical meeting held at Emmanuel Christian Family Church on 3 November 1998, AHA’s mother confided in an evangelist Kevin ‘Mad-dog’ Mudford that Frank Houston had sexually abused AHA. [64] The following day Mr Mudford told Pastor Taylor about AHA’s mother’s disclosure and asked her to meet with him and Pastor McMartin.[65] Pastor McMartin was at that time a State Executive member of the New South Wales Assemblies of God. Pastor Taylor’s understanding at that time was that it was Assemblies of God protocol to report allegations against ministers to the Stat e Executive. [66]

43. At the meeting on 4 November 1998 Mr Mudford told Pastor McMartin about the allegations of child sexual abuse of a child by a Senior Pastor. He did not mention the names AHA or Frank Houston.[67]

44. Pastor McMartin could not recall the meeting of 4 November 1998 but accepted that it occurred.[68] Pastor McMartin said that Pastor Taylor informed him of the complaint but he did not mention the name of the complainant or alleged perpetrator at the time. [69] Pastor Taylor said that Mr Mudford told Pastor McMartin that the ‘particular minister had behaved inappropriately 30 years before with a young boy.’ [70]

45. Pastor Taylor gave evidence that Pastor McMartin suggested in the meeting on 4 November 1998 that the allegations be taken to Pastor Brian Houston, then National President of the Assemblies of God. [71] When asked why she did not take the matter to Pastor Brian Houston, she said ‘Because it was his father, he was loved by everybody and I only had one case that I knew about to go on . ‘ [72]

46. When asked about his suggestion to take the matter to Pastor Brian Houston on 4 November 1998, Pastor McMartin stated “Yes, this was step two of the frustration, that the name of the perpetrator wasn’t coming forward, so my reflection to her would have been ‘If you don’t trust me with the name, take it to a higher level.'” [73]

47. Pastor Taylor said that on 5 November 1998 Mr Mudford went to see AHA at his home, and she arrived shortly after Mr Mudford. [74] Pastor Taylor said that Mr Mudford and AHA had a ‘shouting match’ and that AHA was ‘very shocked’ that AHA’s mother had told anyone about his allegations against Frank Houston. [75] Pastor Taylor recalled that Mr Mudford was very angry and said ‘Frank needs to be dealt with and confess.'[76] AHA stated that Mr Mudford shouted at him in a very aggressive manner and said that he had made up the story about Frank Houston. [77] AHA said that both Pastor Taylor and Mr Mudford tried to tell him that his allegations against Frank Houston were not true. However, AHA got the impression that Pastor Taylor believed his story by the end of the conversation. [78] AHA accepted that Mr Mudford’s anger could have been directed towards what was done to AHA by Frank Houston. [79] Pastor Taylor had told AHA that she would speak to senior executives of the Assemblies of God on his behalf. [80]

48. On 25 November 1998 Pastor Taylor contacted Frank Houston and he agreed to a meeting with AHA. [81] She said she had unsuccessfully attempted to arrange such a meeting on many occasions. [82]

49. On 26 November 1998 Pastor Taylor had a discussion with AHA who told her that he had been to see a Chamber Magistrate to find out his rights to proceed legally against Frank Houston. She told him ‘if he goes to the Church I will stand by him but if he goes to the secular courts I will not.’ [83] Pastor Taylor explained that she took this stance because she felt the Church should discipline Frank Houston and stand him down immediately, and then go to the secular courts. [84]
At this time, Pastor Taylor did not discuss with AHA the option of going to the police. [85]

50. On 26 February 1999 Pastor Taylor wrote to Frank Houston inviting him to meet with AHA in the privacy of her office on the basis that he had told her that he was willing to talk to AHA to resolve the matter. [86] However, Pastor Taylor said no such meeting occurred. [87]

51. In April 1999 Pastor Taylor made further attempt s to arrange a meeting between Frank Houston and AHA by telephone and sent a facsimile to him where she said ‘procrastination is not the answer.’ [88] Following receipt of the facsimile Frank Houston called her and ‘was extremely angry.’ [89]

52. On 2 May 1999 Pastor Taylor said that AHA had contacted her to ‘say that Frank had rung him and cried on the phone in such a prolonged apology [that] it made him feel sick.'[90] AHA told her he was convinced that the apology was not genuine.[91]

53. On 19 May 1999 Pastor Taylor wrote a letter to Pastor McMartin stating that …

[l]t was brought to the attention of Kevin and Deanne Mudford that a high profile figure in the Assemblies of God had been involved in a paedophile incident 30 years ago in a Sydney home.

You will remember I am sure that Kevin asked me to accompany him and ask you what he should ethically and morally do in this case. As we did not feel free to reveal the perpetrator’s name you told us to do [sic] lead by the Lord in the way we handle it. You then suggested we go to Pastor Brian Houston but we said we did not feel we could do that. …

Since that time I have written to the perpetrator to ask him to meet the victim . … The perpetrator rang the victim this week saying he had shed “buckets of tears” and agonised for the incident. He at first tried to trivialise the incident but had admitted it on the phone . …

[AHA] wants to put the matter on hold for the moment for he is too upset to continue with anything and he, I detected, is angry. I told him the Holy Spirit will help him forgive the perpetrator . …

I wanted you to know that we didn’t just “sit” on the matter but have tried unsuccessfully to bring this matter to some sort of conclusion … [92]

54 Pastor Taylor also sent a copy of the letter to Frank Houston. [93] Pastor McMartin said he could not remember receiving the letter of 19 May 1999. [94]

55. Pastor Brian Houston said that in May 1999, his father ‘retired’ abruptly from the Senior Pastor role at Sydney Christian Life Centre, and that Pastor Brian Houston was informed he was to replace him in the role. [95]  Pastor Brian Houston said that he was not told of the reason for the sudden retirement other than ‘it was time,’ but he did note that his father had a high level of stress at the time.[96] Pastor Brian Houston said he believes that the retirement of his father from Sydney Christian Life Centre was caused by AHA’s revelations ‘coming to a head.’ [97]

56. AHA said there were frequent phone calls between him and Frank Houston prior to receiving a letter from Pastor Taylor dated 16 September 1999. [98] AHA said that the nature of the phone calls with Frank Houston was

 … he wanted to get together with me. He was very frightened with what he’d been doing to myself and to other children, and he didn’t want to die and go with this in front of God to answer for it. He was very fearful.[99]

57. When asked what Frank Houston said about the allegations of child sexual abuse, AHA said

He just went straight into “We’ve got to get together and seek compensation and I want you to forgive me, so I can stand in front of God.” They seemed to be the main two things. He wasn’t concerned about me personally. It just seemed to be more about himself and protecting himself, and then so if he died, he could stand in front of God and say that he was absolved of it. [100]

58. AHA stated that he eventually agreed to meeting with Pastor Frank Houston in about early 2000. The meeting was to be at Redfern Station in Sydney. AHA attended the meet ing but when he saw Pastor Frank Houston pull up in his car he walked away because AHA ‘did not want to be anywhere near him.’ [101]

59. AHA said that in order to facilitate payment, he had given Frank Houston his account details in one of their conversations. AHA did not recall a payment being made until after their near meeting at Redfern station[102] The first payment I can recall was that he was – we were supposed to meet at Redfern station, as I stated in my statement. I didn’t meet with him, but later on that money appeared into my account and he’d been on the phone to me after that, because he was very concerned about why we couldn’t get together. [103]

60. AHA stated Following the near-meeting at Redfern station, Pastor Frank continued to attempt to make contact with me and my mother. When he called me, he would say words to the following effect “Look, we need to meet. I want to organise some money for you, some compensation, and get this off “[104]

61. AHA said that In a phone call to my mother, he said he would pay $2,000 a month till the day he died. I think that was his attempt to cover his trail, in my personal belief [105]

62. Pastor Taylor next had contact with Pastor McMartin when they met on 16 September 1999. [106] On that day she wrote to him to confirm the content of the meeting. [107] In the letter she wrote I want to thank you for receiving me this morning to follow through with the matter concerning the alleged child abuse accusation by [AHA]. This incident occurred 30 years ago whilst Frank Houston was sharing his bedroom whilst here in ministry from New Zealand. Thank you for making it so clear to me that the Assemblies of God have a structure in place that can and will deal with such a/legations. I will convey this to [AHA] and ask him if he wants to pursue the matter further for healing of both parties . … [108]

63. Pastor McMartin said he did not receive the letter dated 16 September 1999 but accepted the meeting took place on that day. [109] Pastor McMartin’s recollect ion was that Pastor Taylor named Frank Houston but not AHA. [110] Pastor Taylor said there was no doubt that there was a meeting between her and Pastor McMartin in the morning of 16 September 1999. [111] Pastor Taylor said it was her understanding at this stage that there would be a response from the Assemblies of God, including disciplinary action against Frank Houston and counselling for AHA. [112]

64. It is submitted that, despite Pastor McMartin’s evidence that AHA was not named on 16 September 1999, on that date Pastor McMartin was notified by Pastor Taylor that AHA alleged Frank Houston had sexually abused him as a child.

65. On 16 September 1999, Pastor Taylor also wrote to AHA stating, amongst other things

Pastor John McMartin has told me that the Assemblies of God have a structure in place that can and will deal with such matters if they have [a] written accusation with time and place. The secular courts is not the way, I believe to go but to the Church where I believe you will receive a fair hearing. I will stand with you [AHA] for I believe you. [113]

66. Pastor McMartin said that when he received information about the identity of the perpetrator he spoke with Pastor Taylor and said he needed a written complaint to take the matter further. [114] He did not attempt to write to the complainant and did not commence the process under the Administration Manual because he had not received a written complaint. [115]

Abuse reported to National Executive and Pastor Brian Houston

67. In late October 1999, Mr Mudford told the then Business Manager of the Hills Christian Life Centre, George Aghajanian, of AHA’s allegation that Frank Houston had sexually abused him as a child.[116] Mr Aghajanian said that Mr Mudford told him, ‘no one was doing anything about it and … there was a cover up. [117]

68. That same day, Mr Aghajanian spoke with Pastor Brian Houston and informed him about the phone call from Mr Mudford. [118] Pastor Brian Houston said this was the first time he had been made aware of the allegation [119] and that he had not had a conversation with Pastor McMartin prior to this time about the allegation. [120] He gave evidence to the Royal Commission that the allegation against his father was of child molestation in Sydney[121] and Pastor Brian Houston had no doubt that it was criminal conduct. [122] Later he received more details from Mr Mudford and worked out the identity of the victim. [123] At that stage he said that he had some doubt in his mind about the truth of the allegations and ‘didn’t have any facts established. ‘ [124] He spoke with AHA’s mother about the allegations but not with AHA himself because he had been told of ‘his brittle condition.’ [125] The allegations against Frank Houston were not reported to the police at this stage (or later).

69. When Pastor Brian Houston was asked whether he thought that this was the time to refer his father to the police, he said

No . … Because [AHA] was 35, 36 years of age and I genuinely believed that it was his prerogative to do that. And I most certainly never, ever did, or tried to, suggest that nobody should go to the police. I knew, for the five years my father was still alive, there was every possibility that he would be charged. [126]

70. Pastor McMartin said that as soon as he was told that the victim was AHA and the perpetrator was Frank Houston, he contacted Pastor Alcorn for advice because Pastor Alcorn was on the National Executive. [127] Pastor McMartin believed this conversation occurred at the end of October 1999.[128] He and Pastor Alcorn discussed the matter and Pastor Alcorn decided that Pastor Brian Houston needed to be advised of the allegation. Pastor McMartin understood that the decision to refer the matter to Pastor Brian Houston was made because Frank Houston was a high profile minist er. [129] Pastor McMartin said there were delays caused by Pastor Brian Houston’s availability but he spoke with him about the al legations within two weeks of the conversation with Pastor Alcorn.[130]

71. Pastor McMartin said that when he told Pastor Brian Houston, he was in shock and asked Pastor McMartin, ‘How do you know if it’s true?‘ to which Pastor McMartin replied, ‘I don’t – but it needs to be investigated.’ [131] Pastor McMartin gave evidence that he did not make any  suggestion to Pastor Brian Houston about the process to undertake the investigation, and that he thought that the National Executive would do its own investigation. [132]

72. When asked why people were not appointed from the State Executive to interview Frank Houston about the allegations, Pastor McMartin said he thought that was a ‘good point‘ but said the State Executive were waiting for a written complaint. [133]

73. Pastor Brian Houston determined that he would confront Frank Houston with the allegations when Frank Houston returned from overseas. [134] He said that Frank Houston came to see him in mid-November 1999 after his return. Pastor Brian Houston confronted him and Frank Houston accepted that, ‘Yes these things did happen. ‘ [135] Pastor Brian Houston said that ‘he confessed, essentially, to fondling genitals‘ [136] and ‘he told me it was a one-off occasion.’ [137] Frank Houston also told Pastor Brian Houston in that conversation that he met AHA at Redfern Railway Station and paid him $2,000. [138]

74. AHA thought that the payment of $2,000 occurred in 2000. [139] However, it is submitted that because Frank Houston mentioned both the meeting at Redfern and the payment to his son at the time he was confronted about the allegations, it is more likely that the payment occurred in 1999.

75. AHA said that at the time his attitude was that he was prepared to reveal that the abuse had occurred but he didn’t want the allegations made public: ‘To me, it was a hideous secret and I just didn’t want to have it exposed.’ [140]

76. On 25 November 1999 Pastor Taylor spoke with AHA about the allegations against Frank Houston. In a contemporaneous file note she recorded that AHA was ‘weighing up whether to go to the secular courts for compensation’ and ‘he has been to a Chamber Magistrate who said charge him immediately.'[141] AHA is also recorded as saying, ‘it is of no benefit to go to the Church’ and ‘the Church wouldn’t do anything about it anyhow. [142]

77. On 28 November 1999, Pastor Taylor met with Pastors Brian Houston and McMartin. She recorded the following after the meeting

1. Frank Houston had confessed to a lesser incident than the truthful one but it was further than I had been able to get.

2. Frank said it was a “one of” [sic] incident. {which I did not and do not believe)

3. Pastor said he and his family were in shock and that his father would be stood down from preaching. They would do it wisely.

4. I said that [AHA] should receive counselling organised and paid for by the Assemblies of God.

5. I said there was a possibility that [AHA] would go to court. I had told [AHA] that I would not stand with him in court unless the Church refused to deal with the matter.

6. Pastor said he had spoken to a barrister who had told him that if it goes to court his father would surely be incarcerated for the crime. [143]

78. Both Pastors Brian Houston and McMartin accepted they were at the meeting on 28 November 1999.[144]

79. Pastor McMartin recalled that at the meeting

[We were] trying to ascertain the facts of the matter, as we were unsure of the legitimacy of the allegation. This doubt arose from the fact that the victim [AHA] wished to remain anonymous, even though he was making the accusation. [145]

80. When asked to clarify the term ‘legitimacy of the allegation‘ Pastor McMartin said Again, we go back to our protocol, and our system is ‘written time and place, where the incident took place.’ So that’s what we were looking for. [146]

81. Pastor McMartin said this meeting was the end of his involvement in the matter. [147]

82. Pastor Taylor said that the ‘lesser incident‘ she was told about in the meeting was ‘that [AHA], as a little boy, had just walked through the room without his clothes on [148] and that Pastor Brian Houston had told her that Frank Houston had confessed, and he said that it was a one-off incident. [149] Pastor Brian Houston’s evidence was that Frank Houston had confessed to a one-off incident but the assertion that there had been a naked boy walking across a room was ‘absolute nonsense‘, and he had not heard it before Pastor Taylor gave oral evidence to the Royal Commission. [150]

83. Asked about whether Frank Houston had been suspended by 28 November 1999 Pastor Brian Houston said “I suspended him, if you remember, on the initial meeting I had with him”.

I suspended him and started the process of taking it to the national executive . … Frank was an ordained Assemblies of God pastor; he was a former pastor of Sydney Christian Life Centre; he was now an itinerant pastor attached to Sydney Christian Life Centre, and I saw my main responsibility, in terms of Frank, as addressing that, and, in my mind, he would never preach again, and he never did. [151]

84. Pastor Brian Houston also accepted that by the meeting on 28 November 1999, he had been to see a lawyer at law firm Mallesons about the issue and that the reference to advice from a barrister was likely to be a reference to that advice. [152] He said, ‘/ was well aware that … if [my father] was charged, there was every chance he would end up in prison.’ [153]

85. On 29 November 1999 Pastor Taylor wrote to Pastor Brian Houston saying she was ‘overwhelmed‘ that he wanted to ‘do right‘ and ‘be seen to be doing right‘ concerning the incident. [154] She had spoken to AHA about the meeting the day before and said that AHA was ‘in absolute shock that [Frank Houston] had actually not denied the incident.‘ [155] On 30 November and 1 December 1999 Pastor Taylor knew that AHA was trying to contact Pastor Brian Houston and communicated this to Pastor McMartin. [156]

86. Pastor Taylor recorded in a further file note on 21 December 1999 that she was aware that Frank Houston had preached in Canberra on 4 and 5 December 1999. [157] She also recorded an account of a telephone conversation between AHA and Pastor Brian Houston. AHA told her that in the conversation Brain Houston had been ‘defensive of his father‘ and that no counselling had been offered. [158] Pastor Brian Houston denied he was defensive of his father. [159]

87. Pastor Brian Houston said that sometime in the weeks immediately after AHA’s allegations came to light he called AHA:

I made the call as much because the abuse suffered by [AHA] was committed by my father as I did because I was President of the Australian Assemblies of God. At the time I estimated that [AHA] was probably about thirty-five to forty years of age. I was compassionate and genuinely heartbroken regarding my father’s conduct and the suffering experienced by [AHA]. During this phone call [AHA] did not give particulars of the abuse except to suggest that “whatever Frank had told me had happened, it was probably worse.” [AHA] said “no matter what Frank’s version is it was bad.” [AHA] said “I don’t want to go public about the abuse or go to the Police. [160]

88. Pastor Taylor had suggested at the meeting on 28 November 1999 that AHA be offered counselling paid for by the Assemblies of God. AHA said, however, that he was never offered counselling. [161] Pastor Brian Houston agreed that AHA had not received counselling by 28 November 1999 [162] but said he did later offer counselling in a phone call with AHA

I offered [AHA] the opportunity to get counselling and asked how else I could help him. He said “I just want to be believed, for you to know it was bad and that is the end of it as far as I am concerned. I don’t want my identity to become public. [163]

89. As mentioned, on 28 November 1999 Pastor Taylor recorded the suspension of Frank Houston as being ‘prospective’. On 21 December 1999 she recorded that she had been told that Frank Houston had preached on 4 and 5 December 1999. There was no written documentation evidencing the suspension by Pastor Brian Houston prior to the National Executive meeting on 22 December 1999. Accordingly, it is submitted that Pastor Brian Houston did not immediately suspend his father’s Ordained Minister’s Certificate on hearing his father’s confession to child sexual abuse but did so between 5 and 22 December 1999.

90. Although Pastor Brian Houston said he may have taken notes at the time, [164] there was no formal record of Frank Houston’s admission. Further, neither Pastor Brian Houston nor the other members of the National or New South Wales State Executive of the Assemblies of God wrote to AHA to inform him of the disciplinary process to be followed under the Administration Manual.

91. The then National Secretary of Assemblies of God, Pastor Keith Ainge, was asked about whether the ‘Complaint Procedure‘ under the Administration Manual had been followed in AHA’s case. He accepted that by 22 December 1999 no ‘independent contact person’ had been appointed to contact the complainant, the complainant had not been interviewed by the State or National Executive and the perpetrator had also not been interviewed. [165] It is submitted that notwithstanding the fact that AHA had not provided a written complaint, the Assemblies of God had, through Pastor Brian Houston, commenced a disciplinary process including ascertaining the allegations, interviewing the alleged perpetrator and suspending him from ministry.

92. On the basis of the evidence set out above it is further submitted that the following breaches of the Assemblies of God Administration Manual occurred

a. The Assemblies of God did not provide AHA with a contact person, contrary to clause 1 of the Complaint Procedure

b. The Assemblies of God did not conduct a ‘full interview’ with AHA to ‘completely document’ his allegations, contrary to clause 2{a) of the Complaint Procedure, and

c. Pastor Brian Houston and not the National Executive interviewed the accused minister, contrary to clause 2(b) of t he Complaint Procedure.

93. In the period 1969-1970 s. 81 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) {Crimes Act), made indecent assault upon a male a criminal offence punishable by five years imprisonment. In 1999, s. 316

(1) of the Crimes Act was in the following terms (1) If a person has committed a serious offence and another person who knows or believes that the offence has been committed and that he or she has information which might be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the offender or the prosecution or conviction of the offender for it fails without reasonable excuse to bring that information to the attention of a member of the Police Force or other appropriate authority, that other person is liable to imprisonment for 2 years.

94. Pastor Brian Houston gave evidence that in November 1999 Frank Houston told him that he had ‘fondled’ the genitals of a child. [166] The indecent assault of a child contrary to s. 81 of the Crimes Ac was in 1999 a ‘serious offence‘ as defined in s. 311 of the Crimes Act. Frank Houston’s admission to the criminal offence was information which might be of material assistance in ensuring a conviction against Frank Houston and that information was not passed to t he New South Wales Police by Pastor Brian Houston. As that information may relate to contravention of a law of New South Wales it is submitted it is appropriate to refer Pastor Brian Houston’s conduct to the New South Wales Police Commissioner pursuant to s. 6P(l) of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) for further investigation.

5. Brian Houston Reports to the National Executive

95. On 22 December 1999, a Special Executive Meeting of the Assemblies of God was convened at the Qantas Club at Sydney Airport [167] at the request of the National President, Pastor Brian Houston. [168] Vice-President Pastor John Lewis, Pastor Ainge, Pastor Alcorn and five others attended the meeting. [169] Minutes were recorded by Pastor Ainge. [170]

96. Pastor Brian Houston chaired the meeting and advised that he had convened the special meeting of the National Executive to consider the allegations against his father. [171] Pastor Brian Houston provided a report in relation to the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father. [172] He accepted he was asked to stand down from the chair because of the conflict. [173] He remained in the room for the entirety of the meeting [174] but, according to Pastor Ainge, did not participate in any of the decision making. [175] Pastor Brian Houston said that he could not chair the meeting because he was ‘a mess’ after he had told the National Executive AHA’s story [176] and was experiencing ‘extreme trauma. ‘ [177] In relation to remaining in the room he said, ‘I think I was a passenger, but I was there. ‘ [178]

97. Pastor Ainge said this was the first time he became aware of the allegations. [179] Pastor Ainge said that Pastor Brian Houston was the sole conduit for information about the allegations at the meeting. [180] He also accepted that it was a failure in his minute taking that he did not record that Pastor Brian Houston stood aside from the chair. [181]

98. Pastor Brian Houston told the meeting that his father had confessed to a single act of sexual abuse of a child 30 years ago. [182] He did not tel l the meeting AHA’s name because he said he thought he was looking after the best interests of AHA. [183] He said that the complainant did not wish to make a formal complaint. [184] It was noted that Pastor Brian Houston had already suspended the credential of his father and this was endorsed by the meeting.[185] Pastor Ainge, confirmed that the allegations and admission were so serious that it was important for the National Executive to deal with the matter even though it did not have a formal complaint.[186]

99. The minutes record that Frank Houston be invited to enter the ‘Assemblies of God restoration program‘ and be placed under the supervision of the New South Wales Superintendent, Ian Woods. [187] He was also to refrain from ‘public ministry‘ for 12 months and would ‘not receive his credential‘ until the New South Wales Superintendent recommended restoration, which could occur only after 2 years. [188] Pastor Ainge said this meant there could be a 12 month period where Frank Houston could minister in public but not as a credentialed minister of the Assemblies of God.[189]

100. The National Executive gave Pastor Brian Houston t he task of conveying the decisions to Frank Houston. [190] It was also agreed that Pastor Brian Houston meet with the complainant to explain the discipline and restoration process, to tell him that his identity had been kept confidential and to offer counselling.[191]

101. The National Executive also determined not to notify the Assemblies of God movement of the disciplinary action ‘in the interest of the complainant‘ and in line with the ‘restoration policy. ‘ [192] In the minutes recorded by Pastor Ainge, and all ten items were agreed by consensus (without a vote).[193]

102. Pastor Ainge accepted that the National Conference of the Assemblies of God had determined in May 1999 that there was to be no rehabilitation in the case of a minister who committed an act of paedophilia. [194] When asked why, given the policy, t he meeting had considered the rehabilitation of Frank Houston at all, Pastor Ainge said ‘ I wish I could answer that question.’ [195]  He agreed the decision to permit rehabilitation was a breach of the policy adopted in May 1999. [196]

103. Pastor Ainge also agreed that Pastor Brian Houston was a prominent Pastor with the Assemblies of God at the time, he had a very successful church with a growing congregation, a presence on television, he was well known in Australia and had the largest congregation within the Assemblies of God at that time. [197] He said, ‘the pressure … came as a result of the fact that Frank Houston was a well known, respected and appreciated member of the Assemblies of God movement’ and he was a founding member of the Church. [198] Pastor Brian Houston denied that he intended to have the National Executive act contrary to its policy. [199]

104. Pastor Ainge said that the National Executive was ‘not happy‘ to have Pastor Brian Houston take on the roles of communicating with the complainant and his father but ‘we had no access to [the complainant].‘ [200] He agreed that no independent contact person was appointed at that point. [201] He also agreed that the whole matter should have been taken out of Pastor Brian Houston’s hands and passed on to an independent person. [202] Pastor Ainge agreed that the Administration Manual provided for such a process. [203]

105. Pastor Ainge agreed that Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest at the meeting because the allegations were against his father. [204] However, notwithstanding the conflict, the National Executive relied on advice from Pastor Brian Houston that the complainant did not want to go to the police.[205]

106. Pastor Ainge said that there was discussion at the meeting about whether the National Executive was required to compulsorily report the offence to police. [206] In relation to the note in the minutes that ‘legal advice has been obtained as to our obligations in this matter’, Pastor Ainge agreed that the advice related to the matter being taken to the police [207] and said

My recollection is that the advice was that if the complainant was of age – and we’re talking someone who was over the age of 30 – and did not wish us to go to the police and report the matter, then we were not legally required to do it because he had the ability to do it himself. [208]

107. Pastor Ainge said that there was no discussion of payment of money by Frank Houston or Pastor Brian Houston to the complainant at the Special Executive Meeting of 22 December 1999, and that he would have noted it if there was. [209]

108. Pastor Brian Houston accepted that he had responsibility for a number of interests including being the National President of the Assemblies of God, the leader of Hills Christian Life Centre and his father’ s son. [210] However, he did not think at the time, that he had a conflict of interest [211] and said t his did not ‘cross my mind’ at the time. [212]

109. Pastor Brian Houston denied that there was a potential or actual conflict of interest between those roles [213] and said

For a start, I don’t feel I ever thought, from now on, that I could defend my father or my father’s actions, so I don’t feel like I was defending my father. On the Assemblies of God side, I did feel like it was my role to inform others and start the processes and get other people involved in what needs to happen, what needs to come. [214]

…..

Internally, definitely I was conflicted, so I don’t doubt that at all, if you’re talking about my own, you know, coming to grips emotionally with what my father did. But if you ‘re talking about defending my father, I don’t – what he did was undefendable, and so I don’t feel like that was a consideration at all. [215]

110. When asked about whether the payment of money to AHA was mentioned at the meeting, Pastor Brian Houston was ‘not so sure that it wasn’t mentioned‘ but couldn’t say ‘absolutely that it was. ‘ [216] The payment of money to the complainant is not recorded in the minutes of the meeting.

111. According to the United Constitution, the Churches affiliated to the Assemblies of God are ‘in voluntary co-operation‘ together for ‘aggressive evangelism, unity, fellowship, order, discipline … ‘ [217] Article 3(a) lists ‘the order of government and discipline obtaining to the Church’ as one of its objectives. The National By-Laws state that the powers and duties of the National Executive

‘shall be to do all those acts and things which, in its opinion, are necessary and beneficial to further the aims of the Assemblies of God Australia.’ [218] The National President stands at the apex of both the National Conference and the National Executive and is charged with ‘oversight of the work of the movement on behalf of the National Executive’ and to ‘carry out any other duties usual and customary as presiding officer.’ [219]

112. It is submitted that the President is responsible for pursuing the aims of the Assemblies of God which include upholding the policies and procedures governing discipline of its ministers. The affiliated churches have an interest in seeing ministers appropriately disciplined to ensure that they do not engage in improper conduct and the movement is not undermined.

113. It is submitted that Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in dealing with the allegations against his father, including his presence at the meeting of the National Executive on 22 December 1999 and in implementing the decision of the National Executive. It is submitted the conflict of interest was not removed by him stepping down from the chair. He remained in the room, and was able to exert indirect pressure on individuals, such as the National Secretary, because of his prominent position in the Assemblies of God. [220] It is submitted that in 1999 the National Executive of the Assemblies of God set aside its own policy for handling allegations against ministers, and Pastor Brian Houston’s conflict of interest, in order to permit Pastor Brian Houston to handle the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father.

114. It is further submitted that the National Executive acted contrary to its own policy in permitting Frank Houston to apply for restoration of his credential as a minister of the Assemblies of God when he had admitted sexually abusing a child.

Further Contact with AHA

115. After the National Executive meeting of 22 December 1999, AHA did not receive any formal notification of the suspension of Frank Houston or of the offer of rehabilitation, nor was Frank Houston referred to the State or National Executive. [221] The Assemblies of God did not write to AHA to offer him support or sympathy, or to offer an apology for the abuse which one of its ministers had admitted doing to him. There was no written offer of counselling given to him by the Assemblies of God. [222]

116. Pastor Ainge said NSW State President, Ian Woods, told him that ‘Frank was actually attending Ian’s church at that time . … Ian was dealing with him, counselling with him and working with him in relation to [restoration].[223] ••. As far as [Frank Houston] was concerned, his ministry was over; it was all finished.’ [224]

117. AHA said that on or about late 2000, AHA had a meeting with Frank Houston and another man at Thornleigh McDonalds, close to the premises of Hills Christian Life Centre. [225] AHA accepted that the meeting occurred after he received Pastor Taylor’s letter of 16 September 1999, but he could not be more accurate. [226] At the meeting Frank Houston offered AHA $10,000 and said, ‘I want your forgiveness for this. I don’t want to die and have to face God with this on my head. ‘ [227]

118. AHA said he was then passed a soiled napkin by the third man to sign who said, ‘You put your signature there and I’ll give you the $10,000.’ [228] He said Frank Houston said, ‘Just do it and say you forgive me, and that’ll be it.’ After AHA signed the napkin he was told that a cheque would be sent to him and to contact Pastor Brian Houston if there was any problem. [229] He said he did not sign a ‘typed document‘. [230]

119. Pastor Brian Houston said he knew his father had gone to the meeting with AHA with a friend, Nabi Saleh, an elder of Hillsong Church. [231] He said that Mr Saleh told him that he had something to eat and it was possible that he had asked AHA to sign a napkin. [232] Pastor Houston said he recalled a document which was not formal but was shown to him by his father prior to the meeting. [233] He thought it concerned something about ‘we agree this amount of money is final.’ The document was not signed when AHA saw it.[234] He checked to see whether it said anything about ‘keeping [AHA] quiet and it did not. [235] It is submitted that the evidence of AHA in relation to what he signed is to be preferred.

120. In Pastor Taylor’s file note of 19 July 2000 there is reference to a meeting between AHA, Frank Houston and an elder. [236] As this is the first written reference to such a meeting it is submitted that it is more likely t hat the meeting at Thornleigh occurred between 22 December 1999 and 19 July 2000.

121. AHA said that when he had not received the $10,000 as agreed, he contacted Pastor Brian Houston directly by telephone as suggested by Frank Houston at the meeting at Thornleigh. [237] AHA said that Pastor Brian Houston said to him, ‘Yes, OK, I’ll get the money to you. There’s no problem. … You know, it’s your fault all of this happened. You tempted my father.’ AHA said that during the phone call he was not offered counselling by Pastor Brian Houston, [238] but he was told about the suspension of Frank Houston. [239] AHA said that the telephone conversation between them was in ‘late 2000‘ although he agreed that may not be the exact date. [240]

122. Pastor Brian Houston thought that his phone call with AHA where payment of the money was discussed was immediately after the meeting of t he National Executive on 22 December 1999. [241] He said this was the occasion when AHA told him he did not wish to go to the police. [242] Pastor Brian Houston said during that call he did offer counselling to AHA. [243] He also said that his fat her had not blamed AHA for the sexual abuse. [244]

123. Both AHA and Pastor Brian Houston said they only spoke on one occasion, although AHA accepted that he could not recall whether there were others. [245] It is submitted that it is more likely that there was one phone call prior to the 22 December 1999 meeting and another after the meeting.

124. When asked why it was the case that there was no record of the National Executive being informed of the payment to AHA, Pastor Brian Houston said

… the payment of money to [AHA] had nothing to do with the national executive, because I was adamant that this was not about Hillsong; this was not about the Australian Assemblies of God. This payment was between Frank and [AHA]. [246]

125. Pastor Ainge said he later learned of a payment to AHA from Pastor Brian Houston, in 2000, [247] but no payment was recorded in the minutes when the National Executive met to next consider allegations against Frank Houston in November 2000 (see below).

126. AHA said that he decided to not do anything further after he received the money. He said, ‘I was just going to stop at that because I was deeply ashamed and upset with what had taken place and I didn’t want to have any more to do with it.’ [248]

Response of the National Executive

127. Pastor Ainge said that AHA’s allegations against Frank Houston were not further considered until November 2000 because no ‘formal complaint’ was received from AHA and Frank Houston had not formally applied for acceptance into the restoration program. [249]

128. …..

Hills Christian Life Centre Considers ‘Resignation’

135. On 29 November 2000, a meeting of Hills Christian Life Centre was held, chaired by Pastor Brian Houston, in which Frank Houston’s resignation letter of 24 November 2000 [270] was tabled. [271] Pastor Brian Houston said his father was asked to leave Hillsong Church, although it was recorded as a resignation. [272] The meeting determined that a retirement package including financial support would be offered to Frank Houston and his wife. [273]

136. The minutes also record that a ‘simple announcement concerning Frank’s retirement‘ would be made.274 When asked if the announcement was an attempt to avoid mention of the allegations of child sexual abuse, Pastor Brian Houston said that he thought the allegations were well known by that time. [275]

137. At the same time of completing the report on their return from New Zealand, Pastors Lewis and Ainge prepared a statement on behalf of the National Executives of the Assemblies of God in Australia and New Zealand concerning Frank Houston.[276] The statement referred to Frank Houston’s admissions of child sexual abuse as a ‘serious moral failure. ‘ 277 It was proposed that the statement only be used to respond to rumours if Frank Houston engaged in ‘public ministry’, or if the National Executive wished to make a public decision. [278]

138. On 9 May 2001, Neil Hetrick, General Secretary of the Assemblies of God New Zealand wrote to Pastor Brian Houston asking whether a public announcement would be made. 279 Pastor Brian Houston wrote on the letter ‘ … I was in Auckland in April – at this point we are not planning to make a public announcement over here. ‘ 280

139. On 24 December 2001 Pastor Lewis authored a letter, marked ‘extremely confidential’ and addressed ‘To all Ordained and Probationary Ministers of the Assemblies of God in Australia.’ The letter informed the recipients that Frank Houston had admitted to a ‘serious moral failure’ [281] and that Pastor Brian Houston had suspended his father’s credential. [282] Ministers were requested not to announce the disciplinary action at their church or further afield. [283]

140. Pastor Ainge accepted there was no public notification by the Assemblies of God prior to the 2001 letter. [284] Pastor Brian Houston agreed that this was the first time that the Assemblies of God wrote to ordained and probationary ministers of the Assemblies of God ‘as a blanket statement to the entire nation … [B]ut before that… state superintendents, other people … churches that were close to Hillsong … were already in the loop. ‘ [285]

141. However, Pastor Brian Houston said that he had made various announcements across the 12 month period after December 1999 to the board, staff, leaders and at various public church services of Hillsong Church. He said no two announcements were exactly the same, but the recurring theme was that ‘there were victims, people were badly hurt … and more often than not that it involved minors.’ [286] Pastor Brian Houston was asked whether he had told his congregation of the sexual allegations, and he replied that he used t he words ‘serious moral failing’ and indicated to them that there were ‘extremely serious offences and that it involves minors.’ [287]

142. Both Pastors Ainge and Brian Houston accepted that they did not consider that other victims might come forward if they publicised Frank Houston’s admissions and action taken in response. [288]

 143. Pastors Ainge and Brian Houston were also asked whether any risk management strategies were put in place at the Church where Frank Houston was to worship. Pastor Ainge sa id the Pastor of Coastlife Church in Erina, New South Wales was told about Frank Houston’s discipline, probably by Pastor Lewis who was managing the process.[289] By 2004 the Pastor at Coastlife Church was aware of his ‘discipline and restoration period’ but sought clarification as to whether it was acceptable for Frank Houston to pray for someone at the altar or deliver a prophetic word. [290]

147. When asked whether he was told that AHA would have preferred to receive compensation and an apology directly from both him and his father, Pastor Brian Houston said ‘I take no responsibility for that whatsoever. ‘ [296]

7. Effect on AHA

152. In his statement to the Royal Commission AHA said that he believes that the abuse inflicted by Frank Houston on him destroyed his childhood [301] and has resulted in long term adverse effects.302 AHA said he dropped out of school in Year 10,[303] he has not had a good work history [304] and is currently on a disability pension at the age of 52.[305]

153. AHA said he has had anger issues306 and suffers from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. 307 He also continues to have flashbacks of Frank Houston in his bedroom. [308] AHA said his doctor has attributed his depression and post-traumatic stress disorder to the abuse he suffered as a child. [309]

154. AHA said ‘I have received absolutely no support, counselling, apology or acknowledgement of the abuse.'[310]

155. It is submitted that AHA did not receive any acknowledgement from the Assemblies of God that Frank Houston had admitted abusing him. Nor did the Assemblies of God arrange for Frank Houston to provide an apology to AHA. Further, AHA was not formally offered assistance by the Assemblies of God for him to obtain counselling or legal advice.

167. On 7 August 2000 the NSW Commission for Children and Young People sent a letter to the Business Manager at Hillsong City Church acknowledging Hillsong Church’s registration for the Working with Children Check. The letter stated that [I]t is important to remember that any completed relevant disciplinary proceedings must be reported to the Commission. ‘ [339] The requirement applied to all disciplinary proceedings including those completed in the five years before the commencement of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW) in 2000.

168. Mr Aghajanian accepted that Hillsong Church did not report the suspension of Frank Houston and the withdrawal of his credential to the Commission for Children and Young People. He said ‘the matter was overlooked due to a lack of understanding at the time in the context of complying with the comprehensive legislative child protection regime that came into force in and around the year 2000. ‘ [340]

Available Findings

1. Between November 1998 and 21 December 1999 the Assemblies of God did not follow its complaint procedure as set out in its Administration Manual when handling AHA’s allegations of child sexual abuse against Frank Houston by:

a. not appointing a contact person for the complainant
b. not interviewing the complainant to determine the precise nature of the allegations
c. not having the State or National Executive interview the alleged perpetrator

d. not documenting any of the steps it took.

2. In 1999 and 2000 Pastor Brian Houston had a conflict of interest in assuming responsibility for dealing with AHA’s allegations because he was both the National President of the Assemblies of God and the son of Frank Houston.

3. In 1999 the Assemblies of God set aside its own policy for handling allegations against ministers, and ignored Pastor Brian Houston’s conflict of interest, in order to permit Pastor Brian Houston to handle the allegations of child sexual abuse against his father.

4. In 1999 the Assemblies of God offered Frank Houston rehabilitation to ministry contrary to its national policy that ministers found to have sexually abused children were not to be rehabilitated, in the knowledge that Frank Houston had admitted to child sexual abuse.

5. In 1999 and 2000 Pastor Brian Houston and the National Executive of the Assemblies of God did not refer the allegations of child sexual abuse against Frank Houston to the police.

6. In 2000 the Sydney Christian Life Centre did not report the suspension and withdrawal of Frank Houston’s credential as a minister to the Commission for Children and Young People as required bys. 39(1) of the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998 (NSW). 

….

SUMMARY OF AVAILABLE FINDINGS

22. Australian Christian Churches does not require a person to have an Australian Christian Churches credential in order to call him or herself ‘Pastor’ in an Australian Christian Churches affiliated church.

23. Australian Christian Churches recommends but does not require its affiliated churches to adopt and adhere to child protection policies.

24. Australian Christian Churches recommends but does not require its ministers to adhere to child protection policies.

Simeon Beckett

Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission

14 November 2014


28 Houston T9304: 7-39 (Day 88).

29 S Gibbs, ‘Hillsong farewells a lost sheep pioneer’, Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2004, (10); Houston T9305: 1-2 (Day 88).

30 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (4); Houston T9305: 14-18 (Day 88).

31 Ex18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (5).

32 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (4).

33 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (5)-(6).

34 Ex18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (19).

35 Hillsong Church, http://www.hillsong.com (Accessed 14 November 2014); Houston T9305: 40-47 (Day 88).

36 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (6].

37 Ainge T9267: 15-35 (Day 88).

38 Ex18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (18).

39 Houston T9306: 30-39 (Day 88).

40 Houston T9307: 20-28. (Day 88).

41 Houston T9306: 30-39 (Day 88).

42 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (6).

43 Ex18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (12).

52 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (3), (5)-(6].

53 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [8]

54 AHA T9073: 1-23 (Day 86).

55 AHA T9073: 1-23 (Day 86).

56 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [7].

57 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [9].

58 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (11]; AHA T9074: 2-7 (Day 86).

59 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (11]

60 Taylor T9138: 46 – T9139: 2 (Day 87). 61 Taylor T9139: 24-30 (Day 87).

62 Taylor T9139: 43-46 (Day 87).

63 Taylor T9140: 4-6 (Day 87); Taylor T9140: 12-14 (Day 87).

64 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.00lS_R; Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at [9]-[10].

65 Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at [10]; Taylor T9141: 28-41 (Day 87).

66 Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at [11].

67 Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at [11].

68 McMartin T9414: 2-3 (Day 89).

69 Ex 18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at [54].

70 Taylor T9143: 8-16 (Day 87).

71 Taylor T9150: 38 – T9151: 12 (Day 87); Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure F’, ACC.0010.001.0002.

72 Taylor T9151: 14-21(Day87).

73 McMartin T9416: 6-12 (Day 89).

74 Taylor T9143: 28 – T9143: 1 (Day 87).

75 Taylor T9144: 6-16 (Day 87).

76 Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at [12].

77 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [14].

78 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [15].

79 AHA T9097: 40 – T9098: 5 (Day 86).

80 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (15]; AHA T9074: 39-45 (Day 86).

81 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.0015_R; Taylor T9146: 3-6 (Day 87).

82 Taylor T9145: 28 – T9146: 10 (Day 87).

83 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.0015_R.

84 Taylor T9146: 39-44 (Day 87).

85 Taylor T9147: 8-11 (Day 87).

86 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure B’, ACC.0006.001.0002_R.

87 Taylor T9148: 29-32 (Day 87).

88 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.00lS_R;

89 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.00lS_R.

90 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure A’, ACC.0006.001.00lS_R.

91 Taylor T9150: 13-18 (Day 87).

92 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure D’, ACC.0006.001.0004; Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure F’, ACC.0010.001.0002.

93 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure F’, ACC.0010.001.0002.

94 Ex 18-0011, Statement of John McMartin [52] STAT.0361.001.000l_R

95 Houston T9306: 30-39 (Day 88).

96 Houston T9307: 15 (Day 88); Houston T9308: 8-11(Day88).

97 Houston T9307: 46 – T9308: 1 (Day 88).

98 AHA T9077: 27 – T9078 : 5 (Day 86).

99 AHA T9078: 14-17 (Day 86).

100 AHA T9078: 22-28 (Day 86).

101 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [16].

102 AHA T9078: 40 – T9079: 16 (Day 86).

103 AHA T9079: 11-16 (Day 86).

104 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [19].

105 AHA T9079: 24-30 (Day 86).

106 McMartin T9416: 36-42 (Day 89).

107 Ex 18-0007, ‘Statement of Pastor Barbara Taylor’, STAT.0360.001.000l_R at (20]; Taylor T9153: 32 – T9154: 17 (Day 87); Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure H’, ACC.0006.001.0007 _R.

108 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure H’, ACC.0006.001.0007 _R.

109 McMartin T9416: 33 (Day 89).

110 McMartin T9416: 46 (Day 89).

111 Taylor T9154: 15-17 (Day 87).

112 Taylor T9156: 1-19 (Day 87).

113 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure G’, ACC.0006.001.0006_R.

114 McMartin T9417: 11-17 (Day 89).

115 McMartin T9417: 29-32, 9419: 14-17 (Day 89).

116 Ex 18-0012, ‘Statement of George Aghajanian’, STAT.0359.001.000l_R at [7).

117 Ex 18-0012, ‘Statement of George Aghajanian’, STAT.0359.001.000l_R at [7).

118 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at [24) and [25); Houston T9313: 43 (Day 88).

119 Houston T9312: 42-46 (Day 88).

120 Houston T9311: 31-41 (Day 88).

121 Houston T9315: 7-18 (Day 88).

122 Houston T9315: 36-37 (Day 88).

123 Houston T9315: 21-28 (Day 88).

124 Houston T9319: 14-18 (Day 88).

125 Houston T9320: 5-12 (Day 88).

126 Houston T9327: 39 – T9328: 2 (Day 88).

127 Ex 18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (54).

128 McMartin T9421: 24-25 (Day 89).

129 Ex 18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (55).

130 Ex 18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (56); McMartin T9421: 26-27

131 Ex18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (57).

132 McMartin T9423: 18-39 (Day 89).

133 McMartin T9420: 41-46. (Day 89).

134 Houston T9314: 35-38 (Day 88).

135 Houston T9325: 47 – T9326: 6 (Day 88).

136 Houston T9326: 11 (Day 88).

137 Houston T9326: 15 (Day 88).

138 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (32).

139 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (18).

140 AHA T9099: 34-44 (Day 86).

141 Ex18-0007, ‘Annexure J’, ACC.0006.001.0009_R.

142 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure J’, ACC.0006.001.0009_R.

143 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure K’, ACC.0006.001.00lO_R.

144 Houston T9329: 2-6 (Day 88); McMartin T9424: 1-3 (Day 89).

145 Ex 18-0011, ‘Statement of Pastor John McMartin’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at (56).

146 McMartin T9425: 24-28 (Day 89).

147 McMartin T9425: 38-40 (Day 89).

148 Taylor T9159: 6-8 (Day 87).

149 Taylor T9159: 14-2 (Day 87).

150 Houston T9326: 17-20 (Day 88); Houston T9326: 28-32 (Day 88).

151 Houston T9329: 33-43 (Day 88).

152 Houston T9331: 43 – T9332: 6 (Day 88).

153 Houston T9332: 16-18 (Day 88).

154 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure L’, ACC.0006.001.00ll_R.

155 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure L’, ACC.0006.001.00ll_R.

156 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure L’, ACC.0006.001.00ll_R.

157 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure M’, ACC.0006.001.0012_R.

158 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure M’, ACC.0006.001.0012_R.

159 Houston T9341: 14-20 (Day 88).

160 Ex 18-0009, ‘Statement of Pastor Houston’, STAT.0361.001.000l_R at [38].

161 AHA T9072: 30-32 (Day 86).

162 Houston T9330: 22-27 (Day 88).

163 Houston T9340: 17-19 (Day 88).

164 Houston T9317: 40-44 (Day 88).

165 Ainge T9264: 20-25, 30-33, 42-44 (Day 88).

166 Houston T9326: 11 (Day 88)

167 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011at0011.

168 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (9]; Houston T9343: 4-5 (Day 88).

169 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011at0011.

170 Ainge T9236: 33 (Day 87).

171 Houston T9343: 4-5, 33-39 (Day 88).

172 Ainge T9237: 17-21(Day87).

173 Houston T9350: 15-20 (Day 88).

174 Ainge T9237: 27-28 (Day 87).

175 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (10).

176 Houston T9343: 37-39 (Day 88).

177 Houston T9350: 20 (Day 88).

178 Houston T9343: 43 (Day 88).

179 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at [9]; Ainge T9235: 34-35 (Day 87).

180 Ainge T9264: 6-9, 15-18 (Day 88).

181 Ainge T9265: 45-9266: 4 (Day 88).

182 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (10].

183 Houston T9344: 1-4 (Day 88).

184 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (11).

185 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011 at 0011, [3].

186 Ainge T9247: 7-12 (Day 87).

187 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011 at 0011, [4].

188 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011 at 0011, [4]; Ainge T9242: 17-40 (Day 87).

189 Ainge T9243: 4-10 (Day 87).

190 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011at0011, (6).

191 Ex18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011at0011, (6).

192 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-1’, STAT.0348.001.0011at0011, [SJ.

193 Ainge T9238: 1-3 (Day 87).

194 Ainge T9257: 34-43 (Day 88).

195 Ainge T9269: 32-38 (Day 88).

196 Ainge T9270: 2 (Day 88).

197 Ainge T9267: 15-35 (Day 88).

198 Ainge T9267: 43-T9268: 9 (Day 88).

199 Houston T9349: 32-42 (Day 88).

200 Ainge T9272: 17-20 (Day 88).

201 Ainge T9272: 33-42 (Day 88).

202 Ainge T9272: 44-9273: 3 (Day 88).

203 Ainge T9273: 5-9 (Day 88).

204 Ainge T9275: 1-14 (Day 88).

205 Ainge T9275: 16-19 (Day 88).

206 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (14); Ainge T9246: 26-29 (Day 87).

207 Ainge T9246: 21-24 (Day 87).

208 Ainge T9245: 42 – T9246: 3 (Day 87).

209 Ainge T9277: 34-41(Day88).

210 Houston T9321: 39-T9322: 9 (Day 88).

211 Houston T9322: 21, T9351: 32-41 (Day 88).

212 Houston T9324: 4 (Day 88).

213 Houston T9321: 39 – T9322: 21 (Day 88).

214 Houston T9323: 8-13 (Day 88).

215 Houston T9323: 29-34 (Day 88).

216 Houston T9346: 29-34 (Day 88).

217 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab SO) ACC.0004.001.0002 at 0008.

218 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab 50) ACC.0004.001.0002 at 0026.

219 Ex 18-0004 (POL TB Tab SO) ACC.0004.001.0002 at 0028-0029.

220 Ainge T9267: 43-T9268: 9 (Day 88).

221 AHA T9081: 4-17,T9082: 39-45, T9083: 36 (Day 86).

222 Ex 18-0001 Statement of AHA (17). Pastor Brian Houston said this was offered verbally the next day.

223 Ainge T9277: 18-25 (Day 88).

224 Ainge T9301: 14-18 (Day 88).

225 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [20].

226 AHA T9089: 45-46 (Day 86).

227 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [20].

228 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [20].

229 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [20].

230 AHA T9080: 4-6 (Day 86)

231 Houston T9333: 32-37 (Day 88).

232 Houston T9334: 11-13, 19-30 (Day 88).

233 Houston T9334: 34-39 (Day 88).

234 Houston T9335: 34-36 (Day 88).

235 Houston T9336: 18-21 (Day 88).

236 Ex 18-0007, ‘Annexure O’ ACC.0006.001.0014_R.

237 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (21]. Houston T9337: 11-20 (Day 88).

238 AHA T9081: 41-44 (Day 86).

239 AHA T9084: 12-14 (Day 86).

240 AHA T9113: 36-37 (Day 86).

241 Houston T9340: 7-10 (Day 88).

242 Houston T9340: 17-20. (Day 88).

243 Houston T9341: 22-24 (Day 88).

244 Houston T9328: 25-30 (Day 88).

245 AHA T9080: 24-26, T9106: 31-33, T9110: 14-18 (Day 86).

246 Houston T9347: 8-12 (Day 88).

247 Ainge T9277: 47- T9278: 1-4 Day 88).

248 AHA T9080: 46-T9081: 2 (Day 86).

249 Ainge T9276: 18-24 (Day 88).

270 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 6), HIL.0001.001.0008_R.

271 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 8), HIL.0001.001.0007 _R.

272 Houston T9361: 15-20 (Day 88).

273 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 8), HIL.0001.001.0007 _R.

274 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 8), HIL.0001.001.0007 _R.

275 Houston T9361: 41-46 (Day 88).

276 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-3’, STAT.0348.001.0014 at 0014.

277 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-3’, STAT.0348.001.0014 at 0014.

278 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-3’, STAT.0348.001.0014 at 0014.

27 9 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 10), HIL.0001.001.0016.

280 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 10), HIL.0001.001.0016; Houston T9362: 41-43 (Day 88).

281 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-5’, STAT.0348.001.0018_R.

282 Ex 18-0008, ‘Statement of Pastor Ainge’, STAT.0348.001.000l_R at (50).

283 Ex 18-0008, ‘Annexure KA-5’, STAT.0348.001.0018_R.

284 Ainge T9287: 34-37 (Day 88).

285 Houston T9365: 19-28 (Day 88).

286 Houston T9353: 19-27 (Day 88).

287 Houston T9353: 41-45 (Day 88).

288 Ainge T9287: 39-47 (Day 88), Houston T9367: 39-40 (Day 88).

289 Ainge T9289: 8-19 (Day 88).

290 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 19), ACC.0001.001.0025.

291 Houston T9356: 39-42 (Day 88).

292 Houston T9356: 47 – T9357: 5 (Day 88).

293 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 17), HIL.0001.001.0054_R.

294 Houston T9373: 2-11(Day88).

295 Houston T9369: 20-24 (Day 88). 296 Houston T9369: 46 – T9370: 3 (Day 88).

301 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [28].

30 2 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [29].

303 AHA T9134: 3-9 (Day 86).

304 AHA T9134: 11-13 (Day 86).

305 AHA T9134: 23-24 (Day 86).

306 AHA T9134: 13-14 (Day 86).

307 AHA T9134: 35-40 (Day 86); Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at (29).

308 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [29).

309 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [29)

310 Ex 18-0001, ‘Statement of AHA’, STAT.0367.001.000l_R at [30)

339 Ex 18-0002 (HIL TB Tab 4), HIL.0001.003.0222.

340 Ex 18-0013, EXH.018.013.0003.

341 Aghajanian T9467: 2-10 (Day 89).




Categories: Hillsong

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

1 reply

  1. ” Fergusson MacRay
    New article on Church Watch Central. The Royal Commission has not made Brian Houston look goof. Grab a cuppa and settle down to read the most important points of the Royal Commission. ”

    I disagree. I think they are definitely trying to make out he’s a goof.

    Like

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