A pastor who was one of the first members of the church to learn of Frank Houston’s abuse of a young boy has told of the moment the victim’s mother disclosed the paedophile pastor’s horrible assault.
Hillsong founder Brian Houston is standing trial in Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court, where he has denied failing to go to police with details of his father Frank’s sexual abuse of victim Brett Sengstock.
Mr Sengstock was raped by disgraced preacher Frank Houston inside his family’s Coogee home in January 1970 on the night before his eighth birthday.
At the time, Frank Houston was a New Zealand-based pastor and was on a preaching tour of Australia.
The Crown prosecution has alleged that from September 1999, Mr Houston had knowledge of his father’s abuse of Mr Sengstock, but failed to disclose it to police.
The trial is centering on whether Mr Houston had a “reasonable excuse” not to go to police with his knowledge of his father’s actions.
Mr Houston’s defence barrister, Phillip Boulten, has argued that Mr Sengstock had told the megachurch founder that he did not want police involved.
The claim has been denied by Mr Sengstock.
Mr Houston’s defence has also argued that he had made public statements about Frank Houston’s abuse and that thousands of people, including police, were aware.
Mr Houston, 68, has pleaded not guilty to one charge of concealing the serious indictable offence of another person.
Mr Sengstock has told the court he remained silent about Frank Houston’s abuse until he was 16-years-old when he told his mother.
He says his mother discouraged him from saying anything.
Frank Houston’s abuse came to light when in 1998, Mr Sengstock’s mother made disclosures to Emmanuel Christian Family Church pastor Barbara Taylor and travelling pastor Kevin “Mad Dog” Mudford, the court has heard.
“(Mr Sengstock’s mother) told me that her son Brett had confided in her, that when Frank Houston stayed with them in Coogee, he crept into his room and behaved inappropriately,” Ms Taylor told the court on Friday.
“No details were given and quite frankly, I was in shock. I never asked for the details. In fact, she asked me not to tell anyone. I was shocked.”
Ms Taylor has not been charged and chose to give evidence despite being warned by Magistrate Gareth Christofi that she could incriminate herself.
Mr Mudford has not been charged, either.
Ms Taylor said that when it first came to light, she sought advice from church leaders because there was no protocol for dealing with the sexual abuse of children.
The court heard that when the allegations were then brought to Brian Houston’s attention, he in December 1999 dismissed his father from the Assemblies of God church and removed his credentials.
By that time Mr Sengstock was 36-years-old.
Mr Sengstock met with Frank Houston at a northern Sydney McDonald’s where he was offered $10,000 and told to scribble his signature on a napkin, the court has heard.
Mr Sengstock received a $10,000 cheque in the mail shortly after speaking to Mr Houston on the phone.
On Tuesday, Mr Boulten suggested to Mr Sengstock that he had told Mr Houston during a phone call: “I didn’t want it to be made public.”
Mr Sengstock denied any such conversation taking place.
Mr Sengstock also denied telling Mr Houston: “If anyone is going to the police, it’s going to be me” and that he “didn’t want any part of a church investigation”.
The hearing before Mr Christofi continues on Wednesday.
Story Credit: news.com.au