A New South Wales court on Monday began examining whether Hillsong founder Brian Houston had a reasonable excuse not to report his father’s sexual abuse of a child to police.
It comes after Houston, 68, was charged with concealing a serious indictable offence of another person in August 2021.
He has pleaded not guilty.
The survivor of Frank Houston’s abuse told Sydney’s Downing Centre Local Court on Monday he felt pressured not to involve police.
“I was under the moral and spiritual control of Frank and the church and I did not feel that I should do it,” he said.
He told the court Frank Houston began abusing him the night before his eighth birthday in January 1970, and he first told his since-deceased mother in the late 1970s, while a teenager.
She subsequently told other church figures decades later.
Houston allegedly confronted his father in late 1999, who confessed, before he died in 2004, the court heard.
Houston’s lawyer Phillip Boulten SC said the Hillsong founder was not the first or only person who knew his father molested a boy in Australia, and probably abused others in New Zealand.
“The people who did know about it and did not tell the police about it, like (Houston), did not tell the police about it because (the survivor) was so adamant that he didn’t want to go to the police,” Boulten said.
Crown prosecutor Gareth Harrison said Houston spoke publicly about discovering his father’s abuse in the years following his death, but found out five years before.
He knew who his father abused and knew they were a child when it happened, Mr Harrison said.
“(Houston) failed to bring that to the attention of the police and did so without reasonable excuse,” he said.
Houston and his wife Bobbie founded the Hills Christian Life Centre in 1983, which later merged with the Sydney branch founded by his father to become Hillsong.
The special fixture hearing resumes on Tuesday and is scheduled to continue until December 22.