Brian Houston was ‘devastated’ and ‘shattered by the news’ when he found out his father had sexually abused a young boy and had to strip him of his credentials.
The Hillsong founder is standing trial in Sydney‘s Downing Centre Local Court, where he is fighting allegations he covered up his father Frank Houston’s sexual abuse of a young boy in the 1970s.
He denies failing to report the matter to police and has pleaded not guilty to concealing a serious indictable offence.
Brett Sengstock was one day shy of his eighth birthday when he was sexually assaulted by Frank Houston inside his family’s Coogee home.
Brian Houston (pictured) has denied covering up his father’s sexual abuse of a child.
Mr Houston has denied allegations he failed to pass on the information to police after he learned of his father’s abuse of the boy in 1999.
He has pleaded not guilty to concealing a serious indictable offence of another person and is defending the charges at a hearing where he has argued he had a ‘reasonable excuse’ not to pass on the information because Mr Sengstock had told him he did not want authorities involved.
Pastor Keith Ainge was in 1999 the national secretary of the Assemblies of God when Brian Houston organised an urgent meeting of the group’s national executive and told the meeting he was ‘informed of actions by his father which were inappropriate’.
Mr Ainge on Monday told the court Mr Houston, who was a senior pastor of the Hillsong Christian Life Centre and president of the national executive at the time, was ‘devastated’ when he explained what his father had done.
Brett Sengstock (pictured left) was sexually abused by Frank Houston
The court has been told that Frank Houston’s sexual assault came to light in the late 1990s, when Mr Sengstock’s mother made disclosures to pastors Barbara Taylor and Kevin ‘Mad Dog’ Mudford.
Mr Mudford, a travelling evangelist preacher, took the information to George Aghajanian, the then general manager of the Hills Christian Life Centre, which would later become Hillsong.
Mr Houston told the meeting his father made admissions to him about his abuse, Mr Ainge revealed on Monday.
‘I think it’d be fair to say he was devastated,’ Mr Ainge told the court.
‘He is a very confident person normally… it seemed obvious that he was struggling with the words that he used and seemed to be distraught as he was talking.’
Mr Ainge told the court every member of the AOG was ‘devastated’ by the news.
Frank Houston (pictured) sexually abused a seven-year-old boy in the 1970s
‘I’ve never been in such an emotionally charged meeting,’ he said.
The pastor told the court he had received a letter from Frank Houston’s wife, Hazel, who had written to the AOG to complain after her husband was stripped of his credentials.
Mr Ainge said she sent a letter to the group ‘complaining that after all his years of service, Frank wasn’t being treated right’.
‘My response was we had to deal with it and it was a serious problem,’ he told the court.
The court was told it was Mr Houston who stripped his father of his credentials, as it was his ‘prerogative as the national president’.
The trial before Magistrate Gareth Christofi continues.