Former Hillsong student Anna Crenshaw has filed a lawsuit against Hillsong after she was molested by a drunken Hillsong worship leader back in 2016.
Last year student Anna Crenshaw’s shared her experiences and aftermath of being sexually assaulted by Hillsong worship leader Jason Mays during her 4 years at Hillsong College and Hillsong Church in Australia. She recounts how during a party:
Jason grabbed me, putting his hand between my legs and his head on my stomach and began kissing my stomach. I felt his arms and hands wrapped around my legs making contact with my inner thigh, butt and crotch…
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 sentence 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 quit this past September. Following the story, Brian Houston responded on Twitter, calling the story ‘factually wrong’ and publicly revealing that Crenshaw was also sexually abused as a child at her father’s congregation, explaining that this made the abuse at his church all the more “sadder.
After widespread criticism for exposing the past sexual assault history of one of the victims who was also sexually molested at his own Church, Houston deleted the Tweet and issued an apology, explaining that “I foolishly included information that was wrong for me to share.”
When faced with the fallout from this, Hillsong released a statement saying 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.
Houston would later claim that Ms. Crenshaw’s “version of the events” was not corroborated by other witnesses’ recollection and minimized his culpability and seriousness of events, saying:
“We’re talking about a young man, a 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,”
Brina Houston is no longer involved with Hillsong, after stepping down in early 2022 when allegations of sexual impropriety came to light. It is unknown at this time exactly what she is suing for, as we are unable to locate the filing, but her father Ed Crenshaw told the NY Post:
“I can only say that I’m proud of Anna for standing up for what is right and for continuing to do what she can to hold Hillsong Church accountable for their poor handling of their victims. The need for her to do so is obvious given Hillsong leadership’s pattern of covering up improper behavior, including that of Brian Houston.”