A former Hillsong Megachurch student is suing the Australia-based institution after she was sexually assaulted by one of its staff.
The lawsuit was filed in the New South Wales High Court this week by Anna Crenshaw, who claimed she was groped by a drunk Hillsong employee without consent in 2016, the Australian first reported.
Crenshaw, who was 18 at the time, had moved to Sydney from Pennsylvania to study at Hillsong College less than two years earlier than Jason Mays — a married Hillsong employee whose father, John Mays, had been a key member of the almost-now Church leadership was 15 – attacked her at a meeting one night.
“Jason grabbed me, put his hand between my legs and his head on my stomach and started kissing my stomach. I could feel his arms and hands wrapped around my legs and making contact with my inner thigh, butt and crotch,” she wrote in a statement she sent to Hillsong in 2018, notifying them of the incident, the Christian Post previously reported .
In response to her coming forward, the church defended Mays and shamed Crenshaw, making her feel guilty for raising the issue, according to the Australian report. Crenshaw and her father, Pastor Ed Crenshaw, went to the police five months later and in 2020 Mays pleaded guilty in a local court to “committing an act of indecency”.
However, Hillsong continued to defend him, releasing a statement saying that other witnesses’ recollections of the gathering “did not fully corroborate[Ms. Crenshaw’s]version of events.” On stage, former church leader Brian Houston once said of Mays: “We’re talking about a young man, a young married man, who’s done something stupid, gotten a lot drunker than he should, and that’s a subject we’re going to continue.” have to address. and has put himself in a bad situation,” reported the Australian.
“All I can say is that I’m proud of Anna for standing up for what is right and continuing to do whatever she can to hold Hillsong Church accountable for its poor treatment of its victims,” Ed Crenshaw told The Post about the news of his daughter’s lawsuit. “That she must do this is evident given the Hillsong leadership’s pattern of covering up improper conduct, including that of Brian Houston.”
Hillsong did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.
The new lawsuit follows Houston’s resignation from the church he founded earlier this year. As reasons for his resignation, the 68-year-old cited the ongoing trial in which he is accused of not having provided evidence of his father’s pedophilia and allegations of misconduct.
Houston’s resignation and now the lawsuit mark the latest blows to the once celebrity-beloved multinational megachurch, which has been embroiled in various scandals over the past two years since Justin Bieber’s former pastor Carl Lentz was fired.