Hillsong founder Brian Houston has been charged by NSW Police for allegedly concealing historical child sex abuse.
Mr Houston, who founded the Pentecostal mega-church, is believed to be overseas in North America.
His lawyer in Australia has been served with the charges, police said.
The charges relate to alleged child sex offences committed by Mr Houston’s father, Frank, in the 1970s.
Frank Houston died in 2004.
Brian Houston has previously denied any wrongdoing. The royal commission into institutional child sex abuse found that Brian Houston did not inform authorities of his father’s actions.
On Thursday, NSW Police said they had charged a 67-year-old church leader over the alleged concealment of alleged child sex offences, after an investigation by police in The Hills region of Sydney, launched in 2019.
“Following extensive investigations, detectives requested the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions review their brief of evidence,” NSW Police said in a statement.
“Earlier this week, the ODPP provided advice to police, and following further inquiries, detectives served a Court Attendance Notice for conceal serious indictable offence on the man’s legal representative about 2pm today”.
“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.”
Mr Houston is required to appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on October 5.
In July, it was reported that he and wife Bobbie had been given permission to travel to the United States. They preached at a Hillsong service in Mexico.
The New Daily has contacted Hillsong for comment.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has had a long association with Mr Houston. In his first speech to Parliament in 2008, the PM spoke of how he had been “greatly assisted by the pastoral work of many dedicated church leaders” including the Hillsong founder among.
In a sermon to the Australian Christian Churches conference on the Gold Coast earlier this year, Mr Morrison noted the presence of Mr Houston, among other pastors.
“It’s like the ghost of pastors past here tonight… Brian and Bobbie, just pay you honour mate, and to Bobbie as well,” the PM said.
Mr Morrison is not a member of the Hillsong church. In a statement, a spokesperson for the PM told TND “this is a police matter. It would be inappropriate to comment.”
In 2019, during Mr Morrison’s state visit to the United States, it was reported the PM had sought an invitation for Mr Houston to attend a state dinner at the White House. In early 2020, Mr Morrison admitted his office had “put forward a number of names that included Brian.
“I’ve known Brian for a long time and Hillsong church has a very big network of churches all across the United States, and the ministry, when it comes to the music and so many other things have been very big – it’s probably the single largest church organisation that is known in the United States,” Mr Morrison said at the time.
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