60 Minutes Australia has released an exposé detailing the alleged coverup and casual inaction the embattled, scandal-riddled Hillsong Church has had towards sexual abuse victims, painting a picture of an entity more interested in avoiding bad publicity than getting justice for the victims.
Much of the program revolves around the case of Anna Crenshaw, who we wrote about previously here. She was attending Hillson school when she was sexually assaulted by worship pastor Jason Mays. Hillsong took nearly 5 months to report it to the police, and only after her father, who is a pastor, allegedly complained.
Mays would later plead guilty to “assault with an act of indecency” in 2019. The sentenced carried two years of probation and mandatory counseling by the courts. Hillsong suspended Mays from ministry for one year but eventually welcomed him back, putting him in an administrative role in 2020 and having him sing on stage as a backup vocalist for church events.
His return to his old job, plus a dissatisfaction with the way Hillsong handled the abuse prompted Crenshaw to eventually quit the school.
They also did a segment on “Katherine” who said she was violently raped by a Hillsong member after a bible study and then reported it to a pastor, who wasn’t interested in hearing it. “He wouldn’t let me speak. I can’t breathe, I’m crying, I’m hysterical in front of this man.” After getting it all out, this pastor allegedly told her, “That’s not for my ears to hear. You go sort that out with him [the rapist].”
After her story came to light, Katherine says that Hillsong did reach out to her, but that she did not feel like they cared.
After I posted that I got contacted by Hillsong asking if I would sit down with them and have a chat about whatever it is that happened to me…they do not care at all about the fact that I was assaulted. They just care about who I’m going to tell or what I’m going to do about it, and how that will affect them…I want my abuser to never, ever, ever have the chance to be able to do that to another person again and I also want Hillsong and the pastor that I told to be held accountable for not doing anything about my abuse after being told that I was abused, and I want to make sure that they can never ever, ever hide anyone else’s abuse.
Hillsong, in a response to the piece, wrote that “The 60 Minutes story was factually wrong, sensationalized, unbalanced and highly unethical journalism…it was never their intention to do a balanced piece because they didn’t want to hear the truth. How sad that journalism in this country has stooped to this level.”
They explain that Jason Mays was given another opportunity to remain on staff because what he did was not *that* bad, and that they wanted to give him another chance.
The magistrate who chose not to record a conviction, asserted the ‘low level objective seriousness of the offence’ and acknowledged that it occurred in the presence of several other people who did not fully corroborate her version of the events. Jason was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond for ‘assault with act of indecency’ (not sexual assault), including stringent requirements that he has followed diligently.
As far as Katherine, they say they tried to reach out, but she has been completely uncooperative, limiting what they can and can’t do.
During the meeting, the person concerned was not forthcoming with all of the information. She made several allegations but refused to provide details of a date or name of the alleged perpetrator. She advised she had reported the matter to police, however, Hillsong also made a report to police as per our procedures. She made it very clear that for personal reasons she was not willing to take the matter further with police. We have made every effort to assist this individual and we continue to stand ready to assist. However, we cannot force someone to cooperate with us or police.