Anna Crenshaw, Philadelphia pastor’s daughter, settles lawsuit with Hillsong Church over assault

Anna Crenshaw.
Anna Crenshaw. | YouTube/ NewsNation

Just over three years after she went public about being indecently assaulted by a married Hillsong Church administrator while she was a student at Hillsong College and a member of Hillsong Church, Anna Crenshaw has reached an undisclosed settlement with the megachurch for the harm she suffered.

Crenshaw, who is the daughter of Victory Church Senior Pastor Ed Crenshaw in Pennsylvania, was embarking on a five-day civil trial against the Australian arm of the megachurch in the NSW Supreme Court on Monday when Hillsong Church decided to broker the deal.

“I’m able to inform the court in principle that the matter has resolved,” Crenshaw’s attorney Kelvin Andrews told the court after an adjournment of the trial which lasted several hours, according to The Australian.

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Crenshaw was just 18 in 2016 when she says Jason Mays, who was then serving as a Hillsong staff administrator and volunteer singer, sexually assaulted her at a social gathering in Australia. It took a serious fight from Crenshaw and her father to hold Mays accountable, but he eventually pleaded guilty to indecent assault.

“Jason grabbed me, putting his hand between my legs and his head on my stomach and began kissing my stomach. I felt his arms and hands wrapped around my legs making contact with my inner thigh, butt and crotch,” she wrote in a 2018 statement reviewed by The Christian Post.

She said she told Margaret Aghajanian, Hillsong Church’s then head of pastoral care oversight, that Mays — the son of John Mays, the church’s then head of human resources — had assaulted her, but her complaint was minimized.

“I felt like I could not say anything about the Jason incident because his friend had said not to, insisting that he was a good guy, and this was not a normal behavior for him. After the incident until now I feel uncomfortable when I come into the same area as him,” Crenshaw said in her statement to Aghajanian.

If she didn’t have a strong support network, Crenshaw told CP she wouldn't have been able to get Mays to plead guilty to “assault with an act of indecency” in 2019.

In her claims against Hillsong Church, Crenshaw alleges the charismatic church breached its duty of care to her after the assault she suffered. She also sued Mays as well as Hillsong College.

For his assault of Crenshaw, Mays was placed on two years' probation with no conviction recorded against his name.

"The claim against the church relates to how it responded to the report, including managing the plaintiff's welfare," Gillian Mahoney, a lawyer for Hillsong Church, told 9 News.

While Hillsong Church did not immediately respond to a request for further comment, Mays' lawyer Angus Macinnis said there was a dispute about what happened to Crenshaw and the extent of the injuries she suffered.

Mahoney said what Mays did to Crenshaw was a "single, fleeting, spontaneous,” moment. He also said Crenshaw’s initial account of the assault was presented as somewhat "less serious" than it is being presented now.

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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