Hillsong Church denies accusation by Peter Dutton of paying paedophile’s legal bills
THE Hillsong mega-church has denied accusations by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton of paying the legal bills of a paedophile who allegedly uploaded photographs of his own children to child porn sites.
The web-designer from Chile was released from detention at Villawood Detention Centre last week.
Hillsong has had its own problems after its founder Brian Houston failed to report his own paedophile father to police.
The Daily Telegraph has been told the Chilean man, who has been in the country for a number of years, now has a visa to live in Australia.
Hillsong, which is one of the churches allowed into the detention centre to minister to detainees, today said Mr Dutton was totally wrong and “there is no truth in it whatsoever”.
However Mr Dutton told 2GB’s Ray Hadley this morning he had personally had a look at this case.
“I am advised that they (Hillsong) paid his legal bills,” Mr Dutton said.
“He’s not a paedophile in the sense that … my understanding on the advice I have is that he hasn’t sexually violated a child.
“There was an issue about taking some photos which involved some of his family members.
“I have looked at it in meticulous detail. It’s a peculiar case.”
Mr Dutton defended releasing the man from detention on “extenuating circumstances”.
“There are eventuating circumstances in relation to this matter which involves children and the wife’s medical condition,” he said.
Hillsong, a favourite of celebrity Justin Bieber, was criticised by the child sex abuse royal commission which found Brian Houston had a conflict of interest by allowing his father Frank Houston to quietly resign after admitting he had sexually abused a seven-year-old boy while staying with his parents in Coogee and at an evangelical camp in 1969 and 1970.
The church recently told the royal commission that it now had an official “no tolerance of paedophiles” policy and Brian Houston told the commission that the church had “on numerous occasions” turned people away under the policy which is part of its “Safe Church Policy”.
In a statement, Hillsong Church said today the “allegations” it had paid the legal fees of a refugee were false.
“Hillsong’s ministry at Villawood is limited to humanitarian support and conducting church services. We have never paid the legal or visa fees for any refugee,” the statement said.
“Hillsong Church has a zero paedophile policy where known or alleged sex offenders are not permitted to attend any Hillsong services or programs.
“We have just presented to the Royal Commission our extensive child protection policies and were commended by them for the work we have done to ensure the safety of our children and young people.
“Should we discover that an alleged perpetrator of child abuse is attending our Villawood services we will prevent them from further attendance.””