The founder of Hillsong Church, a popular Christian ministry that boasts Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and other celebrities as devoted members, is under investigation for allegedly mishandling sex crimes committed by his father.
A New South Wales police spokesman confirmed that the case has been reopened, calling it "current and active."
The update comes after one of the child victims, Brett Sengstock, sat down on "60 Minutes" to break his anonymity. He was seven years old when Brian Houston's father, Frank Houston, sexually abused him. Frank Houston admitted to his actions before his 2004 death.
Frank, then a leading pastor, would tell Sengstock, "'You’re my golden boy, and you’re special to me,’ and all these sort of things, which, as an adult now, I look back at, it makes me want to vomit," Sengstock recalled on "60 Minutes." "When you do that to a child you murder them, you take everything away from them, there’s nothing left."
Hillsong Church maintains that after Brian learned of his father's actions, he confronted him and Frank "never preached again." However, the issue was never reported to police. Brian has said the then-teenage victim should have been responsible for going to authorities.
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Decades before it would become a celebrity hot spot, Brian Houston and his wife, Bobbie, first launched Hillsong Church in New South Wales. It would quickly expand beyond Australia to ultimately develop into a worldwide megachurch of more than 100,000 members.
It wasn't until the late 1990s that a victim came forward alleging that when he was seven years old, Brian's father, Frank Houston, sexually abused him. Frank, it was later revealed, sexually abused not just the initial victim but also other children throughout New Zealand.
In 2015 the Royal Commission launched an investigation into Brian Houston to determine whether he concealed evidence pertaining to the claims against his father. The case was suspended due to lack of evidence but is now, police say, in the process of being re-examined.
Most Hillsong congregants didn't know about Frank Houston's actions until 2014, when Sengstock shared his information with the Royal Commission.
One of Hillsong's best-known pastors is Carl Lentz, who's become a celebrity in his own right thanks to endless paparazzi photos with the church's high-profile members like Bieber and Gomez. In 2017, Lentz told AOL that Bieber is his "friend," and while he does "pastoral things" for the singer, he's not actually Bieber's pastor.
Lentz also told AOL that he's heard people call Hillsong a "Scientology-like cult," referencing the megachurch popularized by John Travolta and Tom Cruise. Lentz rejects the comparison.
Kendall and Kylie Jenner as well as Kourtney and Khloe Kardashian have also been spotted at Hillsong church services in recent years.
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