Hillsong Founder Says Carl Lentz Had Multiple 'Significant' Affairs in Leaked Audio: Report
Former Hillsong pastor Carl Lentz was fired from the megachurch amid “narcissistic” and “manipulating” behavior — as well as more than one “significant” affair, its founder claimed in alleged leaked audio published by Page Six.
At the time of his termination, Hillsong founder Brian Houston publicly cited “moral failures." In the newly leaked audio, Houston alleged that Lentz was unfaithful several times, according to Page Six. Reps for Hillsong and Lentz did not immediately return PEOPLE's requests for comment.
“When we talk about an affair, these issues were more than one affair. They were significant,” a man reported to be Houston said. “And at least some bad moral behavior had gone back historically, but not necessarily those affairs.”
Page Six reported that Houston said that a Hillsong staffer found “a very compromising chain of text messages” on Lentz’s laptop, which prompted a confrontation that led to his firing.
Houston reportedly said he may have been able to work through his issues with the couple if it “was just about a moral failure,” but claimed his relationship with Lentz had deteriorated, and the church’s global board determined that his firing was “the only way to go.”
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Lentz was also “a difficult man” to speak to, and often got defensive, Houston claimed, according to the report.
“They were not easy meetings and I already [was] at the point at the end of summer that I felt like Carl and Laura’s time in New York was coming to an end,” Houston reportedly said. “Not just general narcissistic behavior, manipulating, mistreating people … I think sometimes other hurtful things, the breaches of trust connected to lying, constantly lying … basically, broken trust.”
Hillsong general manager and director George Aghajanian was also reportedly present for the leaked chat, and allegedly said the church was negotiating with the Lentzes on a severance package, which they had not yet accepted.
The conversation was held sometime around Nov. 19 during a meeting with church executives and top donors, Page Six reported.
Upon admitting to his infidelity, Lentz wrote on Instagram that “this failure is on me, and me alone.”
Two weeks later, a woman named Ranin Karim came forward to allege that she and Lentz had had a months-long affair that ended in October after Laura found out.
Despite the scandal, Lentz and his wife have remained a united front, and a friend of the couple recently told PEOPLE that they planned to spend Thanksgiving together with their children.
Lentz and Laura are “working very hard” to make their marriage work, and she “has stood by his side” amid the turmoil, according to the source.
The two first met in Australia at the Hillsong International Leadership College, and went on to launch Hillsong Church N.Y.C. in 2010, opening the church’s first branch based in the United States.