Australia

Hillsong founder to plead not guilty

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Hillsong founder and pastor Brian Houston will fight a charge that he illegally concealed his father’s alleged child abuse, a court has heard.

The 67-year-old did not appear at Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court when his matter was mentioned before a registrar for the first time on Tuesday morning.

His lawyer told the court Pastor Houston would plead not guilty to concealing a serious indictable offence.

The case will next be before the court on November 23.

Pastor Houston had promised when charged in August to “set the record straight”.

“These charges have come as a shock to me given how transparent I’ve always been about this matter,” he said at the time.

The case centres on an allegation Pastor 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.

NSW Police investigated the matter for two years after the allegation was raised in media and the institutional child abuse royal commission.

Since being charged, Pastor Houston has stepped down from the board of Hillsong, the church he founded with wife Bobbie in Sydney’s Hills district in 1983.

Now a global empire, the church claims 150,000 people in 30 countries attend its services and 50 million people sing its songs each week.

-AAP



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