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The founder of an Australia-based megachurch says he’ll be stepping down from its board amid allegations he covered up the child sexual abuse perpetrated by his father.
Brian Houston, 67, who will remain as global senior pastor for the Sydney-headquartered Hillsong Church, confirmed the announcement in a letter to the church's followers.
"I've made a decision to step aside from my role on the Hillsong Church boards that oversee the governance of our operations,” Houston wrote in a statement obtained by People. “I did this so that these boards can function to their fullest capacity during this season."
Frank Houston has been accused of sexually abusing a minor boy over the period of several years in the 1970s. The preacher confessed to carrying out the abuse prior to his death in 2004 at 82. According to officials, Brian Houston became aware of the sexual abuse in the 1990s, and for decades, made no effort to inform authorities.
“I confronted him,” Houston told a royal commission investigation into institutional responses to child sex abuse in 2014, according to court transcripts obtained by Oxygen.com. “He went extremely dry in the mouth and said, ‘Yes, these things did happen...He confessed, essentially, to fondling genitals.”
Houston later allowed his father to quietly retire without informing authorities of the confession of child sexual assault. According to police, he came under scrutiny by law enforcement in 2019 and in August he was asked to appear in court on Oct. 5 for allegedly concealing a serious indictable offense.
"Police will allege in court [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," the statement read.
The Hillsong pastor has denied the allegations.
“These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” Houston said in a statement last month. “I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”
On Sept. 15, Houston tweeted a message with his nearly 600,000 followers that seemed to be in response to his legal battle.
“The LORD is on my side; I will not fear,” Houston wrote on Twitter on Sept. 15. “What can man do to me? The LORD is for me among those who help me; Therefore I shall see my desire on those who hate me.”
Houston faces a maximum of five years behind bars if convicted on the charges. Hillsong Church did not immediately respond to requests for comment when contacted by Oxygen.com on Monday.
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