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The founder of Hillsong Church, Brian Houston, resigned after an internal review found he behaved “inappropriately” with two women.
In the first, Mr Houston sent text messages while “under the influence of sleeping tablets” to a female staff member, who subsequently resigned, the church said in a statement.
“If I was with you, I’d like to kiss and cuddle you,” he wrote, according to a church letter leaked to ABC News.
In the second, he knocked on the hotel room door of a non-church member during Hillsong’s annual conference and “spent time” with a woman for 40 minutes. The church chalked that up to excessive anti-depressant medication mixed with alcohol.
Hours before announcing his resignation, the church held a global staff meeting to discuss the background of both incidents. Hillsong’s acting head, Phil Dooley, said they would launch an independent review of the structure of the church, which has been attended by Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez.
Mr Dooley added that Mr Houston was at the Pullman Hotel in Sydney, Australia, during the 2019 incident when he met a woman in the foyer.
"Later that evening, Pastor Brian attempted to get into his room but didn’t have his room key and ended up knocking on the door to the woman’s room,” Mr Dooley said, according to ABC.
"She opened the door and he went into her room.
"The truth is we don’t know what happened next. The woman has not said there was any sexual activity. Brian has said there was no sexual activity but he was in the room for 40 minutes."
Mr Houston’s resignation comes after he stepped down from “ministry duties” in January, with the church citing the personal toll “the situation with his father” has taken.
Mr Houston has denied allegations he concealed the sexual abuse of a young boy by his father.