Alleged sex abuse victim told not to go to authorities

A SENIOR Pentecostal pastor has been accused of discouraging an alleged sexual abuse victim from going to authorities.

The alleged victim was the first person to testify at the royal commission into child sex abuse today as its focus turned to the Pentecostal movement Australian Christian Churches, formerly known as Assemblies of God, and affiliated churches.

The commission is first inquiring into the AOG, Sydney Christian Life Centre and Hills Christian Life Centre's responses to allegations against Pastor William Francis "Frank" Houston in 1999.

The two churches merged to become Hillsong Church.

Mr Houston Snr, who has died, was a family friend when he allegedly began abusing the man at age seven in the boy's house and in Mr Houston's church office.

The man, whose name has been suppressed, said his mother told him years later, when he revealed the abuse, he would not want to be responsible for stopping people going to church and causing them to go to hell.

He said a senior pastor told him in a letter not to go to the "secular courts" as the church would give him a fair hearing.

The man testified Mr Houston's son Brian, now Hillsong's senior pastor, said he "tempted" his father into abuse.

The public hearing in Sydney will cover three specific case studies.

The responses of the AOG, Northside Christian College and the Northside Christian Centre, now Encompass Church, in Victoria, to numerous allegations against teacher Kenneth Sandilands(correct) will be scrutinised during the second part.

The third part will examine responses to allegations made in 2007 against a former Sunshine Coast church's youth pastor, Jonathan Baldwin.

Baldwin was subsequently jailed.

The commission will consider the ACC's response during the criminal trial and civil claim.

- APN NEWSDESK


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