Possible fresh witness flagged in Hillsong assault case

A potential fresh witness has come forward after media coverage of a woman's lawsuit against mega-church Hillsong for its alleged duty-of-care breaches over her indecent assault.

Anna Crenshaw's NSW Supreme Court case against the Sydney-based church, as well as a college and the male worship leader who assaulted her, continued on Thursday despite the parties recently being on the verge of settling the suit.

Her lawyers indicated a new witness had recently come forward as the lawsuit returned to court for a directions hearing, only a few weeks after they said the matter had been resolved "in principle".

Anna Christine Crenshaw (file image)
Ms Crenshaw claimed the church failed to protect her from harm and psychiatric distress..

Ex-Hillsong staff member Jason Mays previously pleaded guilty in Penrith Local Court to indecently assaulting Ms Crenshaw in 2016.

He was placed on a two-year good behaviour bond with no conviction recorded against his name.

Ms Crenshaw claimed that the church failed to protect her from harm and ongoing psychiatric distress after the assault.

But Hillsong lawyer Gillian Mahoney said at no point had another potential witness been foreshadowed and she objected to new evidence being introduced after an expected settlement in the case.

"It is difficult to see how a person who has come forward after hearing media reports could have anything to say on the breach-of-duty point," she said.

They might have no relevance to the case and filing further evidence would only add delay and costs to the case, Ms Mahoney told Justice Peter Garling.

Brian Houston (file image)
Brian Houston was cleared of allegations he covered up abuse by his late father decades earlier.

"(Ms Crenshaw's lawyers) have not provided any light other than that a person came forward and may have something to say," she said.

The person who came forward had been unreachable since offering to speak and it was unlikely they would provide a statement, the court was told.

But Justice Garling accepted the potential for fresh evidence and asked for a statement from Ms Crenshaw's legal team to explain what value the witness might add to the case.

The case was adjourned until July.

In an unrelated case, Hillsong founder Brian Houston was cleared in 2023 on allegations that he covered up abuse committed by his late father Frank Houston decades earlier.

1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732)

National Sexual Abuse and Redress Support Service 1800 211 028

Lifeline 13 11 14

beyondblue 1300 22 4636

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