Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong Church, has been charged by police in Australia over accusations that he covered up allegations of child sexual abuse. Houston says he is shocked by the charges.
NSW Police released a statement on Thursday saying that Houston, 67, "has been charged over the alleged concealment of alleged child sex offences."
Houston says that the charges are in relation to accusations that his father, Frank, abused a boy over several years in the 1970s. "These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I've always been about this matter," Houston says in an emailed statement provided by Hillsong to media. "I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight."
"Hillsong said in a statement the church was disappointed that Houston had been charged and asked that he be afforded the presumption of innocence and due process," the Associated Press reports.
Houston is to appear in court on Oct. 5.
Police say that In 2019, they began an investigation into reports that Houston had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offences. Houston had already testified at a 2015 government inquiry on the matter, in which he stated that he had confronted his father on the allegations and his father confessed. The inquiry found that Houston did not attempt to report his father's confession to the police.
"Police will allege in court the man knew information relating to the sexual abuse of a young male in the 1970s and failed to bring that information to the attention of police," the NSW Police's statement says.