Home Christian News 60 Minutes Australia’s ‘Hillsong Hell’ Details Sexual Abuse Claims Against Leadership; Hillsong...

60 Minutes Australia’s ‘Hillsong Hell’ Details Sexual Abuse Claims Against Leadership; Hillsong Responds

Senior pastor Houston attempted to “clear the air” when many within Hillsong’s community learned about the Mays incident and how the church handled it. Houston said, “One thing I do know is we’re not talking about a sexual predator here (referring to Mays). We’re talking about a young man, young married man, who did something stupid — got much drunker than he should, which is an issue we’ve got to keep addressing — and got himself in a bad situation. That’s it.”

Houston followed that comment with what Steinfort called an even more “tone deaf” statement. The Hillsong pastor replied on Twitter to The Christian Post regarding an article it published earlier this year detailing the incident. “It’s a sad story. A number of things are factually wrong, but abuse is NEVER ok,” Houston wrote. And in what seemed to be an attempt to discredit Crenshaw’s account, Houston revealed private information regarding the victim’s history, saying, “My understanding is that Anna was originally abused in her father’s church in Pennsylvania. That makes it sadder. Whether abuse happens in Pennsylvania or Australia, it’s tragic.”

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Recognizing his transgression, Houston deleted his comment and apologized, saying, “In a comment on this article yesterday, I foolishly included information that was wrong for me to share. To (rightfully) be more respectful of privacy, I deleted my comment. I apologize for any pain I have caused. I know better and will do better.”

“The tweet, while hurtful, just showed everyone the attitude that I had been receiving from Hillsong for the past few years,” Anna told Steinfort. “I think that apologizing just for the tweet without any apology for what has happened and what I’ve been through is [a] very shallow apology.”

The Youth Leader’s Story

Catherine recounted staying after a Hillsong Bible study in 2012 at the Melbourne East campus to help a male worship leader pack up. While they were working, she said, “He closed the door [in the church’s events office] and he turned off the lights.” Catherine asked him what he was doing and if he was OK. She said what happened next has traumatized her to this day. “He grabbed my hair [then] pushed me onto this this office chair,” Catherine said. She said she asked the worship leader what he was doing, told him to stop and shouted no. The emotional Catherine said she knew what was going to happen to her.

“He pulled down my pants and my underwear and he raped me,” Catherine told Steinfort. “I had no reason to think that I wasn’t going to be safe [at a church]. It was really violent. It was just completely filled anger and rage and hatred. It was just the scariest thing I’ve ever experienced in my whole life because he was so much bigger than me.”

She tearfully said after the rape, the Hillsong worship leader “just pulled up his pants and he just left without saying a word.”

Catharine said the event left the young woman feeling ashamed and guilty because it was her first sexual experience and it was non-consensual. “I just wanted to pretend it didn’t happen,” she said.

After weeks of emotional torment, Catherine decided to tell one of Hillsong’s youth pastors that she’d been raped by the worship leader. Catherine said despite her attempt to report the sexual assault to the youth pastor, his response was: “That’s not for my ears to hear. That’s not for my ears to hear. You go sort that out with him. That’s not for my ears to hear.”