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Embattled former Hillsong pastor Brian Houston allegedly committed ‘indiscretions’ towards two women, the current head of the global church has revealed in a meeting with staff.
Pastor Phil Dooley, who took over leadership of the church from Houston in January, told staff about the apparent ‘indiscretions’ during a video conference on Friday morning, the ABC reported.
The claims, revealed during a Zoom meeting with some 800 staff, come just months after Mr Houston stepped down as leader of the mega-church while he fights criminal charges that he covered up his father’s child sex abuse.
Pastor Dooley explained that the first of the two alleged incidents involved Mr Houston allegedly sending a female staff member an ‘inappropriate’ text message.
‘It was along the line of ‘if I was with you, I’d like to give you a kiss and a cuddle or a hug’, words of that nature,’ Pastor Dooley told the meeting, according to Crikey. Hillsong said the incident took place a decade ago.
Pastor Brian Houston is seen during a meeting at the Park Hyatt Hotel in Sydney. He was there for a meeting of the church’s board which was exclusively pictured by Daily Mail Australia
Houston (above, with wife Bobbie) is accused of two ‘indiscretions’ towards different women – one about a decade ago, and another more recently in 2019
The woman complained and was later paid ‘a couple of months’ salary’ as compensation, according to the report.
The second incident occurred during the church’s famous conference held at Qudos Bank Arena in 2019, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison opened.
Pastor Dooley explained that Mr Houston met a woman, who was not a church member, in the foyer of the Pullman Hotel. He had been drinking in a group and allegedly ‘ended up knocking on the door to the (unnamed) woman’s room.’
He entered, the pastor reportedly said, and ‘the truth is we don’t know what happened next’.
Mr Houston, who is married to fellow senior pastor Bobbie, has denied that any sexual activity took place with the unnamed woman.
The woman has reportedly also not alleged sexual activity took place, and it is not suggested otherwise.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted Hillsong’s media representatives for comment on the claims.
The revelation comes after Houston has stepped down as the leader of Hillsong in January while he fights criminal charges that he covered up his father’s child sex abuse.
Brian Houston (pictured with his wife Bobbie) stepped down as the leader of Hillsong in January while he fights criminal charges that he covered up his father’s child sex abuse
‘[They said] it would be best practice for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings,’ Houston (right) told hundreds of worshippers in January
Houston told worshippers the charge of concealing the serious indictable offence came as a ‘complete shock’ and he would ‘vigorously defend’ it.
The 67-year-old is accused of knowing from September 1999 that his father Frank sexually abused a seven-year-old boy in 1970, and helped cover it up.
Frank Houston sexually abused numerous young boys in New Zealand and Australia from 1965 to 1977 when he lead the Assemblies of God church.
In January Brian Houston told Hillsong worshippers he would immediately step down temporarily so he could be ‘fully committed’ to ‘setting the record straight’.
Houston said Hillsong’s external legal counsel advised the move to the church board during the annual retreat in December.
‘[They said] it would be best practice for me to step aside completely from church leadership during the court proceedings,’ he told hundreds of worshippers.
‘So it’s likely to be drawn out and take up most of 2022, especially considering the backlog in courts exacerbated by the Covid pandemic.
‘And along with this the board and I have been having detailed discussions around requirements for leadership and we’ve talked about the effects of the situation with my father, going back many years up to the current legal case, and the impact that this has had on me emotionally.
‘So the result is Hillsong’s global board feel it’s in my and the church’s best interest for this to happen, so I’ve agreed to step aside from all ministry responsibilities until the end of the year.’