Hillsong Church Reaches ‘In Principle’ Settlement With Student Who Was Sexually Assaulted on Campus, Likely Paying out Millions

Hillsong Church has reached an “in principle” settlement with a former student who was sexually assaulted by a staff member on campus, likely bringing the six-year-long ordeal to an end. 

Former Hillsong College student Anna Crenshaw filed a lawsuit against Hillsong after she was molested by a drunken Hillsong worship leader back in 2016. Crenshaw shared her experiences and aftermath of the incident, recounting 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 five 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.

Mays’ return to his old job, plus a dissatisfaction with the way Hillsong handled the abuse prompted Crenshaw to quit the school and eventually sue Hillsong Church, Hillsong School, and Mays himself. As a result of her ordeal, Crenshaw claimed aggravated damages and exemplary damages, saying that she suffered “harm, injury and loss” at the hands of the institution and its employee.  

Hillsong Church has bristled at the notion that it had acted with negligence or was in breach of contract, insisting that it concealed nothing (even thought it took months to be reported to Law Enforcement.

Mays acknowledged that he assaulted Crenshaw in some manner but denied it constituted sexual assault, categorically denying that he put “his hand between her inner thigh” and “fondled her bottom and vagina,” as she alleged in her suite.  

Shortly after the hearing began, however, lawyers for both sides adjourned for several hours to try to work things out, ultimately reaching an undisclosed agreement that almost certainly is costing Hillsong millions of dollars.

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