Hillsong Church founder Brian Houston has reportedly been accused of “indiscretions” towards two women, the church’s new leader has told an extraordinary meeting of its global staff.
Multiple media outlets, including the ABC, are reporting that the bombshell revelations to more than 800 employees came on Friday.
Pastor Phil Dooley, who took over as Hillsong’s head a month ago, told the staff in an emotional video conference the first incident involved a woman who worked for Hillsong at the time. She quit after making a complaint about Mr Houston.
In a second complaint, Mr Houston is said to have spent 40 minutes in a woman’s hotel room after a church conference attended by Prime Minister Scott Morrison. He is said to have been under the influence of alcohol and anxiety and sleeping medication at the time.
Pastor Dooley said the first incident, which occurred a decade ago, involved Mr Houston sending a female staff member an “inappropriate” text message.
“It was along the line of, ‘If I was with you, I’d like to kiss and cuddle you,’ words of that nature,” Pastor Dooley told the meeting, the ABC reports.
He said the woman – who was “obviously upset and felt awkward” – complained to Hillsong’s general manager before leaving her job. She was reportedly paid several weeks salary as compensation.
“Pastor Brian said, ‘I want to pay that personally because it was my fault,’ because it was personal indiscretion,” Pastor Dooley said.
Pastor Dooley said the allegations had been treated seriously, and Mr Houston was apologetic.
He told the gathering that the other incident occurred during the church’s annual conference in in Homebush, in Sydney’s west. The event was opened by Mr Morrison.
Pastor Dooley said Mr Houston met a woman, who was not a member of the church, in the foyer of the Pullman Hotel.
“It was after one of the conference nights and he was drinking with a group,” he said, according to the ABC’s report.
“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.”
He told Hillsong employees that Mr Houston was under the influence of alcohol and medication at the time, and did not remember what happened.
“The woman had also been drinking and so her recollection was not completely coherent,” Pastor Dooley said.
He said the church acknowledged Mr Houston had made “significant mistakes” and was remorseful about his actions.
Mr Houston, 68, stepped aside as leader of Hillsong in January, to fight allegations he concealed his father’s alleged child abuse.
He was charged in October with concealing a serious indictable offence allegedly committed by another person. He pleaded not guilty earlier this month, and faces a three-week hearing.
The matter will return to court in November.
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