Houston’s father Frank confessed in late 1999 to his son that he had committed child abuse after a victim, Brett Sengstock, reported the abuse which occurred in the 60s and 70s to the Australian Christian Churches. At the time Brian Houston was the national president.
Sengstock is one of seven of Frank Houston’s reported victims, with the majority in New Zealand. He gave evidence to the royal commission in 2014 under the pseudonym AHA, but has since given media interviews without anonymity.
The royal commission found Frank Houston was allowed to resign his position in the church and was given a retirement package up until his death in 2004.
Brian Houston has defended not reporting his father’s confession to police, stating he had a “reasonable excuse” because he said Sengstock had said he did not want to go to the authorities. He also said that because Sengstock was an adult when the abuse was first reported, it was his prerogative to report it. Sengstock has denied telling Houston not to go to the police.
NSW police received a referral to investigate the failure to report Frank Houston’s confession after the royal commission’s findings were released in 2015, but no charges have yet eventuated from the investigation.
In a 2GB interview last week, Houston insisted the investigation was only open because charges had not yet been laid, and it would continue to remain open.
But NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller told a state parliament estimates committee in November last year investigators were “following a number of lines of inquiry” into the actions taken when dealing with the allegations against Frank Houston.
In a written response to questions on notice, Fuller said the investigation had stalled in late 2016 not long after Brian Houston declined to be interviewed in July that year.
“In July 2016 Mr Brian Houston declined to be interviewed or assist police with the investigation. In November 2016 legal advice was received regarding a lack of sufficient evidence to proceed,” Fuller said.
But NSW police launched a review of its original investigation in October 2018 and were trying to resolve legal issues around sufficiency and admissibility of evidence.
“However, the [NSW police force] is currently taking steps to resolve these issues, including obtaining fresh legal advice and following a number of lines of inquiry into this investigation.
“Police are maintaining contact with the victim.”
The Guardian has sought comment from Houston via Hillsong.
Morrison appeared on stage with Brian Houston at Hillsong in July this year, and has refused to answer any questions on whether he sought to bring the Hillsong leader to the United States for his visit.
Officials at Senate estimates last week took questions on notice on the matter, stating releasing the information could potentially damage international relations with the US.
Source: Josh Taylor, ‘The Guardian’, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/30/hillsong-founder-brian-houston-refused-to-answer-questions-over-fathers-child-abuse-police-told-mps?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other&fbclid=IwAR3BxwKJ1Sfz06vZKeiK2Nn8b1tsMIXfyqp7JbLMtNbWoG3lLFh6yqvAVgk. Published October 30, 2019. (Accessed November 2, 2019.)
“Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?” Galatians 4:16
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