Entertainment Hillsong Church Founder Brian Houston Charged with Concealing Father's Child Sex Offenses in 1970s
Pastor urges vaccinations after losing 7 congregants to COVID-19
"I believe coming to a trusted place, a safe place I think you get a better chance of more people being vaccinated." He told ABC News' Linsey Davis four of his late congregants were under the age of 35, and a number who died were unvaccinated.
Brian Houston, the 67-year-old founder of celebrity-relished mega church, has been charged in Australia with concealing child sex offenses, stemming from the abuse of a young man during the 1970s.
Houston learned this morning he has been accused of covering up abuse allegations lodged against his preacher father, Frank Houston, relating to events that happened more than 40 years ago.
PEOPLE confirms authorities in New South Wales started investigating Brian Houston in 2019 after receiving "reports a 67-year-old man had knowingly concealed information relating to child sexual offenses," according to a police statement.
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On Oct. 5, Houston is expected to appear in a Sydney court "for allegedly concealing a serious indictable offense," the statement adds.
Houston has yet to plead to the charge, and it was unclear if he was represented by a criminal lawyer.
"Police will allege in court [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," the statement reads.
Houston has been living in the United States in recent months, and preached this past Sunday in California.
In a statement, Houston said he was bewildered by the allegations.
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints kicked off a twice-annual conference Saturday by urging members to listen to the faith's leaders when they seek “pure truth” and expressing gratitude for those who have followed church guidance, which has been to get vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus. Church President Russell M. Nelson acknowledged that the world is “still dealing with the ravages of COVID-19 and its variants.” And while he didn't mention vaccines specifically, he thanked members for following the advice of church leaders, medical experts and government officials.
"These charges have come as a shock to me, given how transparent I've always been about this matter," Houston said. "I vehemently profess my innocence and will defend these charges, and I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight."
said in a separate statement to the AP that the church was disappointed Houston had been criminally charged, and asked that he be afforded the presumption of innocence.
Australian officials contended in 2015 that Hillsong leaders became aware of the allegations in 1999, but did not share that information with police.
Instead, Houston's father was allowed to retire.
Frank Houston had confessed to the abuse allegations prior to his death in 2004 at 82.
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'It's not Satanism': Zimbabwe church leaders preach vaccines
SEKE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Yvonne Binda stands in front of a church congregation, all in pristine white robes, and tells them not to believe what they’ve heard about COVID-19 vaccines. “The vaccine is not linked to Satanism,” she says. The congregants, members of a Christian Apostolic church in the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, are unmoved. But when Binda, a vaccine campaigner and member of an Apostolic church herself, promises them soap, buckets and masks, there are enthusiastic shouts of “Amen!” © Provided by Associated Press Members of an Apostolic Christian Church group gather for a prayer meeting on the outskirts of the capital Harare, Friday, Sept. 10, 2021.
Hillsong, a one-time favorite among celebrities like, made headlines in November 2020 , who shortly after admitted to being unfaithful to his wife, Laura.
The church experienced another bump in the road in April, when Pastor Darnell Barrett, the creative director of Hillsong's chapter in Montclair, N.J.,, coupled with claims that he sent an anonymous woman similar photos and allegations that he was unfaithful in his marriage.
Then, in June, Leona Kimes, who once worked for Hillsong as a nanny for Lentz and his family,— behavior he denied.
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