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Bold claim about Hillsong accuser

Written by on May 13, 2024

A woman suing Hillsong church over an indecent assault left Australia before key documents were ready, a court has been told.

Anna Crenshaw, 26, was indecently assaulted by Hillsong Church staffer Jason Mays when she was just 18 years old.

Mays pleaded guilty in 2020 to one count of indecent assault and was sentenced to a two-year conditional release order.

In a statement of claim, Ms Crenshaw alleged she suffered harm as a result of the church’s negligence and breach of contract.

An agreement was struck in principle between the parties earlier this month – before a court trial – but was aborted days later.

Lawyer Kelvin Andrews told the court on Monday that it had been believed the matter would resolve “subject to certain writings”.

The court was told Ms Crenshaw, who is a US resident, was in transit before the documents were made available.

Despite Ms Crenshaw returning home since then, Mr Andrews said he was unable to say why he had yet to receive further instructions.

The delay in the matter was criticised by Justice Peter Garling, who told the court that it caused “a great deal of frustration”.

“It seems at least with this defendant, if they didn’t have an agreement that they were very close to one,” he said.

“She had to be here a week, so she must have brought her flight forward if she was gone by the time the documents appeared.”

The delay was further exacerbated by a possible application to have the matter moved to the NSW District Court.

Mays’ lawyer, Angus Macinnis, told the court that he was informed on Friday there would be an application for the move.

Mr Macinnis also vented “extreme frustration” at the delay and noted the “extensive media coverage” of the failed agreement.

The court was told Mr Andrews did not have instructions on the application, nor was there one put before the court.

Mr Andrews also told the court that he had been informed of a new witness, and “small amendments” would be made to the pleas.

Justice Garling agreed to adjourn the matter until Friday in light of the possible application to change jurisdictions.

Noting Ms Crenshaw was a US resident, he also gave “all defendants leave to file a motion seeking security for costs”.

Under law, a plaintiff may be ordered to provide security if there is concern they may not be able to pay if they lose.

Hillsong has denied it acted negligently towards the former parishioner in its defence previously filed with the court.

The parties had reached an agreement on the day the week-long trial was due to start in the NSW Supreme Court.

Only days later, that deal fell apart due to what Ms Crenshaw’s lawyer described as a “disagreement between the parties”.

Outside court, Ms Crenshaw said the settlement was contingent upon her agreeing not to speak further about the matter.

“We were unable to come to a settlement today because Hillsong changed their plan in a ploy to intimidate me,” she said.

“This has never been about money for me but about justice and accountability, which was not received this week.”

The former Hillsong pastor is claiming damages, aggravated damages, and exemplary damages in her lawsuit.

The US native was in Australia studying at Hillsong College when she was assaulted in April or May 2016.

In a statement of claim, Ms Crenshaw said Mays “put his right hand on the inside” of her left thigh.

She further alleged Mays left “his hand between her inner thigh and fondling her bottom and vagina”.

Mays, who is also a defendant in the civil case, has denied “that he fondled (Ms Crenshaw’s) bottom and vagina”.