Hill Song Founder Brian Houston Walks Free as Sydney Magistrate Clears Him of All Charges
In a highly anticipated verdict, Sydney Magistrate Gareth Christofi cleared Hill Song Church founder, Brian Houston of charges related to concealing his father’s reprehensible acts. The 69-year-old, who was the senior global pastor of the Sydney-based church, had been charged by the police two years ago. Following the charges, Houston stepped down from his church roles.
Reasonable Excuse for Non-Reporting
Christofi accepted that Houston believed the victim Brett Sengstock did not want the abuse in the 1970s reported to police. During the trial, it was revealed that Houston had a reasonable excuse for not reporting the offenses committed by his father, Frank Houston, to the authorities. Houston genuinely believed that Brett Sengstock, the victim of the abuse, did not want the incidents from the 1970s to be reported to the police.
Victim’s Testimony Contradicts Houston’s Beliefs
In the trial, Sengstock clarified he never told Houston to hide the abuse, but Houston claimed otherwise. Sengstock expressed disappointment, arguing the verdict unjustly blamed him for the church’s failure to report Frank Houston.
Victim’s Struggle for Justice
Expressing his anguish, Sengstock emphasized that regardless of the trial’s outcome, he felt as though he had received a life sentence. He criticized the verdict, highlighting the damaging practice of blaming victims of abuse for the crimes committed against them.
“Regardless of today’s outcome, I have received a life sentence. Blaming the victim is as repulsive as the assaults themselves,” Sengstock added.
Houston’s Regret and Acknowledgment
Following the verdict, Brian Houston expressed his deep sadness for the victims, particularly Brett Sengstock, acknowledging the heinous acts perpetrated by his father. Houston emphasized that Frank Houston was a serial pedophile, and the extent of his crimes may never be fully known.
“I want to express my sadness to Brett Sengstock, genuine sadness about what my father did to him and all his victims. He was obviously a serial pedophile. We probably will never know the extent of his pedophilia,” Houston told reporters.
Hillsong’s Response and Future
Hillsong acknowledged the ruling in a statement from the church. “Our prayer is that those impacted deeply and irrevocably by the actions of Frank Houston will find peace and healing, and that our former senior pastor Brian Houston and his family can look to the future and continue to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives,” it said.
- Mwonzora’s Startling Message to Chamisa: ‘Election Participation a Fool’s Bravery’
- Election integrity at stake: CCC’s urgent court bid challenges ZEC’s actions
Hillsong Church issued a statement acknowledging the court’s ruling, expressing their desire for healing and peace for all those affected by Frank Houston’s actions. The statement also extended support to Brian Houston and his family, hoping they can move forward and fulfill their purpose.
Examination of Motivation and Public Disclosure
Christofi found that while Brian Houston might have used euphemisms in public, his meaning was obvious and speaking “widely and freely” about his father’s abuse indicated Houston wanted people to know, the magistrate said.
Magistrate Gareth Christofi examined Brian Houston’s motivations and public statements, reported Newsday. Although Houston may have used euphemisms when discussing his father’s abuse publicly, Christofi concluded that Houston’s intention was clear. Houston’s willingness to openly discuss the abuse demonstrated a desire to bring awareness rather than conceal the truth