Current Hillsong megachurch leader Brian Houston is facing criminal charges in connection to his late father’s history of child sexual abuse. Police in Australia alleged that Brian confronted his father Frank Houston about molesting children, but, when he admitted to it, did not attempt to contact the authorities.

The New South Wales police, who charged Houston on Thursday, gave a statement which read, “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.”

In response, the pastor told The Washington Post, “I vehemently profess my innocence … and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.”

The events described in the charges stem back to the 1970s, long before the Sydney Christian Life Centre evolved into Hillsong, growing a global presence with churches in 30 countries. In 2013, allegations reached Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that detailed Frank Houston’s sexual assault of a seven-year-old boy in 1969 and 1970.

The preacher’s son and church leader admitted in a 2014 inquest that he confronted his father about the abuse in 1999. He confessed and Brian found out about eight more of Frank’s victims, but, instead of contacting the authorities, forced his dad into retirement. According to commissioners, Brian deliberately kept the matter quiet instead of going to the police.

He told the commission, “Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be preempting the victim, if I were to just call the police at that point.”

The commission concluded by stating that while Brian “had no doubt that his father’s conduct was criminal, he made no attempt to report his father to the police.”

The New South Wales poice started investigating reports that the megachurch leader knew about the abuse in 2019.

The preacher previously made a comment through Hillsong where he said, “The abuse by Frank Houston occurred many years before Hillsong church existed. It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Brian is not a perpetrator of abuse, has never been accused of abuse, and took immediate action to expose and stop a child abuser.”

Brian will appear in court on October 5.

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