Hillsong Church founder found not guilty of concealing his father’s child sex crimes

Hillsong Church founder, Brian Houston, has been acquitted of charges of concealing his father’s child sex crimes.

Court ruling details: Brian Houston was found not guilty of hiding his father’s, Frank Houston’s, child sex offenses.
* Sydney Magistrate Gareth Christofi stated Brian Houston had a reasonable excuse for not reporting the offenses as he believed the victim, Brett Sengstock, did not want the 1970s abuse reported to the police.
* Despite Sengstock testifying that he never told Houston not to report the abuse, Christofi said that Houston had been told of Sengstock’s attitude by others.

Reacting to the verdict: Both Houston and Sengstock made statements following the verdict.
* Sengstock expressed disappointment, stating the verdict blamed him for the church’s failure to report the elder Houston to the police.
* Houston expressed remorse for his father’s victims, maintaining sadness about his father’s actions and asserting that he is not his father.

Context: This accusation emerges from a dark history within the church.
* Brian Houston became aware of his father’s abuses in 1999, leading to his father’s defrocking as an Assemblies of God pastor.
* Prosecutor Dareth Harrison argued that Houston refrained from reporting the allegation to authorities to protect both the church and his father.

The legal aftermath: The ruling was based on the judge’s interpretation of the motivations and actions of Brian Houston.
* Lindsay found that proving Brian Houston avoided reporting the allegation to protect the church and his father was a “tall order,” hence his acquittal.
* The case arose from the findings of a 2015 Australian government inquiry into institutional responses to allegations of child sex abuse.

View original article on NPR

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