8 witnesses testified against Hillsong founder Brian Houston in court case, wife Bobbie reveals

Pastor Brian Houston appears on stage during Hillsong's 2014 conference in New York City at The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Pastor Brian Houston appears on stage during Hillsong's 2014 conference in New York City at The Theater at Madison Square Garden. | Hillsong Church

While the prosecution called eight people to testify against Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston in a court case alleging he concealed his late father's sexual abuse of a young boy during the 1970s and shielded him from criminal prosecution, his wife, Bobbie, revealed that the defense could find no one except her husband to testify as a witness to his innocence.

"The Crown Prosecution presented eight witnesses. Our Defense presented one - Brian Houston. All evidence was heard, all evidence is recorded," Bobbie Houston shared in an Instagram update on the case earlier this month. "Now the case is adjourned till June for oral & written summaries, final arguments & then the Magistrate alone will rule."

The court hearings took place across 13 days in December.

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The Hillsong Church founder's wife of nearly 46 years said she vowed to her husband last year that if no one else stood up for him, she would "die on my sword if need be" to defend his "integrity, character & worth" against what she called a "modern day persecution."

"I'm weary of the relentless assault on this man, weary of the unchallenged, uncontained narratives left to fester. I vowed to him last yr that if no one stands up & vindicates his integrity, character & worth, I will. And I'll die on my sword if need be," she wrote.

"That might sound dramatic but I have no reason to say otherwise. Modern day persecution is accusatory, cowardly & appalling. Those who perpetrate it should be sued for defamation & damaging bullying, but because that isn't the nature of Christ, we will continue to pray for you. Just remember dear ones, that the Courts of Heaven exist & no action or word or ill-intent goes unobserved," she continued.

"Whilst it is still 'Day' there is grace to recover & change your ways, but a day will come when that day may expire. Don't risk that, nor boast of tomorrow, for none of us know what a day will bring. His Grace is all sufficient but it has to be embraced."

Brian Houston has denied allegations he concealed his late father's crimes and shielded him from criminal prosecution.

The megachurch founder was formally charged with failing to report his father's abuse in August 2021 after a two-year investigation by the New South Wales Police in Australia.

Authorities allege that Houston "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." Court documents allege Brian Houston knew as early as September 1999 that his father had committed an indecent assault in 1970.

Brian Houston's father, Frank Houston, who died in 2004, was the head of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand until 1971. Brian Houston, who founded Hillsong Church in 1983, was the head of the Australian branch of the Assemblies of God from 1997 to 2009.

"Believing that Frank Houston committed that offence and knowing that he had information that might be of material assistance in securing the prosecution of Frank Houston for that offence," court documents allege Brian Houston "failed to bring that information to the attention of NSW Police."

In a statement after being charged, Brian Houston "vehemently" professed his innocence and vowed to fight the charges.

"I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight," he said at the time. 

During Frank Houston's tenure as an Assemblies of God leader, he was found to have abused a number of young boys in New Zealand and Australia. Once he learned of the claims against him, Brian Houston immediately forced his father to resign from the Sydney Christian Life Centre with a pension.

Pastor Bobbie Houston of Hillsong Church speaks during the ministry's 2014 New York City conference.
Pastor Bobbie Houston of Hillsong Church speaks during the ministry's 2014 New York City conference. | Hillsong Church

One accuser, who is now 60 years old, told the Royal Commission Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014 that Brian Houston accused him of having "tempted" his father when he was a child. Houston told the commission at the time that the claim was false.

Among those who testified in the December hearings was Hillsong general manager George Aghajanian, who said it was his job to ensure the church complied with New South Wales laws. He believes he is the first person to tell Brian Houston about the allegations against his father. Aghajanian said the church did not inform authorities about the disciplinary actions taken against Frank Houston and the abuse allegations because it wasn't a "current matter."

Houston's told the court that he didn't report the allegations to police to respect a victim's wish not to report it to authorities, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. The victim claims he never told Houston he didn't want a police report filed. 

Hillsong Church initially announced in January 2022 that Brian Houston would only step down from his role at the church's helm for all of 2022 as he faced criminal charges related to the case.

He completely resigned from the church in March 2022. Hillsong Church said Brian Houston violated the church's pastoral code of conduct by entering the hotel room of an unidentified woman for 40 minutes while under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs during the church's annual conference in 2019.

The former megachurch leader doesn't recall having sex with the woman, and the woman did not say if they had sex. Recently appointed Global Senior Pastor Phil Dooley said their accounts of what happened are not entirely reliable because they were impaired by alcohol. Brian Houston was also reportedly under the influence of anxiety medication.  

In a second incident, the Hillsong founder is said to have exchanged an "inappropriate text message" with a staffer in 2013. According to Dooley, the text message was "along the lines of, 'If I was with you, I would like to give you a kiss and a cuddle or a hug.'" The staffer resigned shortly after. Hillsong Church blamed Houston's actions in this case on "sleeping tablets."

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