Bieber’s pastor hit with fresh sex claims
Hillsong founder Brian Houston has reportedly been captured on audio lashing ousted celebrity pastor Carl Lentz, accusing him of having multiple affairs and displaying "narcissistic" and "manipulative" behaviour.
Mr Lentz, 42, was kicked out of the popular church last month after a number of "moral failures", that were later revealed as him cheating on his wife.
He and his wife Laura, who have been married for 17 years and share three children, moved from the east coast of the US to Los Angeles late last month in an attempt to salvage their marriage.
Mr Lentz had run Hillsong's megachurch in New York City and had been popular among its many celebrity adherents including Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey and NBA player Kevin Durant.
New York fashion designer Ranin Karim, 34, went public days after he was fired, admitting she was the one who had been with Mr Lentz, however it's now been revealed she wasn't the only one.
"It was more than one affair, they were significant. And at least some bad moral behaviour had gone back historically, but not necessarily those affairs," Mr Houston said on the recorded meeting, which was later leaked to the Daily Mail.
In the November 19 meeting, which included a number of church executives and top donors, Mr Houston revealed Mr Lentz's illustrious career as a Hillsong pastor came crashing down when a staffer working in New York found something "compromising" on his computer.
"I can honestly say before God the first time I heard any moral complaint against Carl was when (Hillsong East Coast Chief Operating Officer Tolu Badders) contacted me," Mr Houston said.
"Tolu had a conversation with one of the staff members, and that staff member had found a very compromising chain of text messages on Carl's laptop or computer. And so that person went straight to Tolu. And Tolu, to her credit, the first thing she did was call me."
Mr Houston didn't mince words when he spoke about the former pastor, accusing him of "general narcissistic behaviour, manipulating, mistreating people, I think sometimes other hurtful things, the breaches of trust … constantly lying".
Despite Mr Lentz largely being credited with helping Hillsong explode in the US, especially in New York, Mr Houston admitted his former pastor was "difficult".
"He was a difficult man to have any kind of direct conversation with, because it was always defensive, it would always be put back on the other person, as though they're the ones with the problem," Mr Houston told the meeting.
Thousands of Hillsong devotees were crying out for answers after Mr Houston released a statement revealing Mr Lentz had been fired from the church.
In the tight-lipped statement, Mr Houston simply said Mr Lentz was out of the church because of "leadership issues and breaches of trust, plus a recent revelation of moral failures".
Another Hillsong executive was caught on the leaked audio, revealing Mr Lentz could get a hefty payout.
"We're working on a severance package which we're negotiating with them on," George Aghajanian, General Manager and a director of Hillsong Church Australia said.
"They haven't accepted that at this point in time.
'We are trying to care for them as far as they are letting us care for them. And certainly our heart is to look after the children, to look after (Lentz's wife) Laura, and even Carl who needs a lot of help."
"And the purpose of that is really to get them the help they need, and to help them through this difficult process, to work on their marriage.
"We're doing a lot of stuff behind the scenes, it's not anything we're going to promote publicly."
Karim did the media rounds last month, after Mr Lentz was fired from Hillsong, revealing they'd sparked up a relationship when he told her he was an unmarried sports agent.
"I wasn't there for just sex, we both found comfort and a deep, special connection with each other. I am very hurt because we both feel the same way about each other," Karim told The Sun.
"He told me his name was Carl but that's it, he wouldn't tell me his last name. And he told me that his job was as a sports agent."
Other Hillsong members, on the condition of anonymity, claimed to the Daily Mail that Mr Lentz had been having affairs for years.
"I volunteered at the Green Room (Backstage) at Hillsong NYC for several years before leaving," one church member said.
"Carl Lentz has been sleeping with women outside of his marriage for at least seven years.
"I was removed from my Green Room duties after seeing Carl with Kevin Durant and Draymond Green at 1OAK Nightclub the night before.
'Their table was right next to my promoter's and he left shortly after noticing me around 2am. Carl was very touchy with someone who was clearly NOT his wife.
'The next day, when I got to the church I was pulled aside and told I was no longer needed because they have enough people."
Another claimed Mr Lentz "cheated the last five to six years with multiple women."
"When it all came to light, the church received emails from at least three other women besides Ranin telling their story," the devotee said.
Mr Lentz took to Instagram after he was fired from Hillsong, revealing he had been unfaithful.
"When you lead out of an empty place, you make choices that have real consequences. I was unfaithful in my marriage, the most important relationship in my life and held accountable for that," he said.
Originally published as Bieber's pastor hit with fresh sex claims