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"There Wasn't a Cover Up" Hillsong Church General Manager Tells Court

Hillsong Church's general manager, George Aghajanian, has stated in court that the reports of sexual abuse committed by the church's senior pastor, Frank Houston, were not passed on to authorities as it wasn't a "current matter" and that the church executives' understanding of their requirements was to report "something that could be potentially an imminent danger.”

The Hillsong Church Logo on the exterior of a church building

Mr. Aghajanian also told the court that the reported abuse was committed decades prior and predated the church itself. Mr. Aghajanian worked as the business manager for the Hills Christian Life Centre from 1994. The church was founded by Frank Houston's son, Brian Houston, with Frank having founded the Sydney branch. The centres later merged to form the Hillsong megachurch.


An evangelist accused the church of not acting upon the reports in October of 1999. Mr. Aghajanian stated that the evangelist had claimed that the church was instead covering up the incident, which he denied:

"There wasn’t a cover up. I received an allegation and I reported it to my boss...We had no evidence of Frank Houston offending in this manner prior to receiving that allegation.”

Mr. Aghajanian has also told the court he believed it was "entirely appropriate" for Frank Houston to have received his financial retirement package when he was originally removed from the ministry.


Frank Houston was accused by Brett Sengstock of committing child sexual abuse against him, first beginning in 1970. Mr. Brian Houston has pleaded not guilty to concealing a serious indictable offence of another person, with his lawyer, Phillip Boulten, claiming that he had a reasonable excuse not to report the matter as he was respecting Mr. Sengstock's wishes to not report the abuse to police.


In recent days the court has also heard that executives within the Pentecostal church movement, Assemblies of God (AOG), were gathered by Brian Houston, who was then the AOG national president, for a meeting to discuss his father's paedophilia. It was agreed by those attending to keep the minutes of this meeting confidential.


Keith Ainge, the former AOG secretary, told the court that Brian Houston stated to the attendees of this meeting that Mr. Sengstock did not want the matter reported. Mr. Sengstock denies ever telling Mr. Houston that he did not want the matter reported.

Sources & Further Reading

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/brian-houston-court-hearing-sydney-alleged-concealment/101748034


https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/dec/09/urgent-church-meeting-frank-houston-kept-secret-court-told-hillsong-founder-brian-houston


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-12-08/hillsong-founder-accused-of-concealing-sexual/101750368


https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/oct/13/hillsong-whistleblower-allegedly-stood-down-for-giving-information-to-charities-regulator-court-told


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-10-17/hillsong-church-files-federal-court-defence-in-fair-work-case/101538434


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2022-08-12/hillsong-church-allegedly-mislead-charities-regulators/101324578


https://www.crikey.com.au/2022/08/15/hillsong-whistleblower-natalie-moses-scandal/


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