Familiar? Child sex abuse victim finally speaks out after decades of shame

Thinking back to the times Brett Sengstock was molested as a young boy makes him want to vomit.

Even seeing photos of Frank Houston causes him to breakdown.

After 30 years of silence and shame, Mr Sengstock has finally decided to come forward because he says he is tired of others speaking for him.

Breaking down in Sunday’s night’s 60 Minutes program sharing his horrific story, Mr Sengstock recounted the graphic details about what happened to him starting when he was seven years old.

The predator was Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s father, Frank Houston, a high-profile pastor who used his position of power to sexually abuse young boys.

Decisions around how the matter was handled were made by Brian while he was head of the Pentecostal movement, the Assemblies of God in Australia.

As a young boy, Mr Sengstock said he considered Frank Houston royalty. He was leader of the Assemblies of God in New Zealand and when he visited Mr Sengstock said it was like the Pope coming to town.

He would stay with the Sengstocks when he came to Australia.

“He would come into my room and lay on top off me,” Mr Sengstock said.

“I couldn’t speak. I could not speak. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t push back, I just went rigid and I couldn’t breathe, I was petrified.

“(He would say) ‘You’re my golden boy, and you’re special to me,’ and all these sort of things, which, as an adult now, I look back at, it makes me want to vomit.

“When you do that to a child you murder them, you take everything away from them, there’s nothing left.”

The abuse continued until Mr Sengstock was 12 but at 16 he finally decided to tell his mother what had happened. He was shattered by her response.

In a statement on its website, the Hillsong Church said Brian Houston “acknowledges the inexcusable crimes committed against” Mr Sengstock.

“It is misleading that the report failed to mention the many who knew about this issue before it came to (Brian Houston’s) attention,” the statement said.

“Pastor Brian was the one who actually took action when he learned of it as evidenced to by the transcripts of the royal commission readily accessible to the public.

“From the day Frank Houston was confronted by Pastor Brian, he never preached again.”

He became emotional when recounting the sexual abuse he received from Frank Houston. Picture: Channel 9

“She turned around and said to me that you don’t want to send people to hell, and stop sending them to the church,” he said.

When his mother finally revealed what happened 20 years later, without telling him, the matter was “quietly” dealt with.

Frank Houston confessed and paid Mr Sengstock $12,000 for his forgiveness.

The matter was never reported to the police, even when Brian Houston found out about his father’s actions in 1999.

Frank Houston died in 2004. Many didn’t know of his actions until Mr Sengstock spoke to the Royal Commission into child sex abuse in 2014.

Brian said he believed it should have been up to Mr Sengstock to report his father to the police when he first found out about his father’s paedophilia.

Frank’s son Brian spoke to the royal commission into child sex abuse. Picture: Channel 9

The church did strip Frank Houston of his credentials and he retired on a pension with no one the wiser.

It was not until a letter to church members in 2001 that they suspected something serious had taken place.

In the letter the church described his acts as a “serious moral failure”. They would later learn they were criminal acts.

In interviews during the commission, Brian said he “didn’t have any doubt that it was criminal conduct”.

“Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point”.

After the Royal Commission Mr Sengstock sought compensation, but was not successful because he could not prove the Assemblies of God in Australia was responsible for Frank when the abuse happened.

REFERENCED: https://www.news.com.au/lifestyle/real-life/news-life/child-sex-abuse-victim-finally-speaks-out-after-decades-of-shame/news-story/ecaab6cdf6e38deeb3d4fe31025d14f7

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