According to a brutal report from the New York Times, Brian Houston, the high-profile founder of Australian megachurch Hillsong, has officially resigned from his position in shame following an internal probe by the church’s board that ultimately determined Houston violated the church’s code of conduct at least two separate times over the past 10 years due to highly inappropriate behavior towards two different women.
The 67-year-old pastor was at the helm as Hillsong morphed into a multimillion-dollar enterprise over recent decades. Hillsong boasted congregations across six different continents, an average weekly attendance of 150,000 according to the church, and a star-studded congregation that featured attendance by high-profile celebrities such as Justin Bieber, Kylie Jenner, and Selena Gomez during its peak a couple of years ago.
Following the church board’s internal investigation into their founder, the entity ultimately apologized publicly and “unreservedly” to the two women who lodged accusations of inappropriate behavior by Houston. The board released a statement writing, “We acknowledge that change is needed.”
Recently, Hillsong’s board revealed that, through their internal probe, they were made aware of at least one instance in which the church’s founder sent “inappropriate text messages” to a female member of the megachurch staff and spent a considerable amount of time alone in a Sydney hotel room with another woman while she was in the city for a conference. The woman would later go on to file a complaint regarding the incident.
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Video footage was later leaked to the Australian news media, showing Houston’s replacement as Hillsong’s pastor stating, “The truth is we don’t know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity, but he was in the room for 40 minutes.”
The church admitted that Houston did pay the unnamed women an undisclosed amount of money in an effort to settle the complaint. The Hillsong staff member who was subjected to inappropriate messages by Houston was reportedly given two months’ worth of her salary and the woman from the Sydney hotel room was compensated for her fee to attend the conference she was in the city for as well as a donation she had made to the Hillsong church.
Back in January, Houston officially resigned from his position within the church, claiming at the time that he needed to step away to focus on fighting criminal charges lodged against him for concealing past child sexual abuse that was allegedly committed by his father, Frank Houston, who is also a pastor.
The younger Houston pastor and founder of Hillsong megachurch was first charged by the Australian police in August 2021 with one count of concealing a serious indictable offense, alleging that he “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.”
Brian Houston has denied the allegations regarding the concealment of his father’s alleged sexual abuse.
Read the full Times report here.