Brian Houston, the founder of Hillsong Church, the world-renowned worship centre based in Australia, has been accused of inappropriate behaviour towards two women.
According to ABC, Phil Dooley, who took over leadership of the church from Houston in January, told over 800 staff about the two allegations during a video conference on Friday.
Dooley said the incidents included an alleged inappropriate text message in 2013 and a hotel night encounter in 2019.
“We have sadly been dealing with two complaints made against Pastor Brian over the last 10 years,” read a letter sent by the Hillsong global board to church members.
“We apologise unreservedly to the people affected by Pastor Brian’s actions and commit to being available for any further assistance we can provide.”
Dooley said the alleged text message was sent by Houston to a female staff member.
“It was along the lines of ‘if I was with you, I’d like to give you a kiss and a cuddle or a hug’. Words of that nature,” Dooley told the meeting.
It was alleged that the woman was paid “a couple of months’ salary” as compensation after she complained.
The second incident was said to have occurred during the church’s conference held at Qudos Bank Arena about three years ago.
It was alleged that Houston entered an unnamed woman’s hotel room.
“It was after one of the conference nights and he was drinking with a group,” Dooley added.
“Later that evening, Pastor Brian attempted to get into his room but didn’t have his room key and ended up knocking on the door to the woman’s room. She opened the door and he went into her room.
“The truth is we don’t know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity but he was in the room for 40 minutes.”
In January, Houston stepped aside from his senior roles as global senior pastor and chair of the board due to the pressures of a court case relating to his alleged failure to report sexual abuse of a child by his father, of which he became aware in the 1990s.
As of February 2022, Hillsong Church reports 150,000 regular attendees globally in over 30 countries.
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