Anna Crenshaw settles with Jason Mays but not the Hillsong Church

Mays and Crenshaw

Former Hillsong College student Anna Crenshaw (right) has settled her long-running court case against a Hillsong Admin worker, Jason Mays (left), but has continued her case against Hillsong Church and the college.

It was March 2016 when 18-year-old Anna Crenshaw, the daughter of a Philadelphia pastor, Ed Crenshaw, had come to Sydney to attend Hillsong College. A drunk Jason Mays who was working in a Hillsong admin job. assaulted Crenshaw at a social function. At the Penrith Local Court in 2020, Mays pleaded guilty to “assault with an act of indecency”. Magistrate Hiatt gave Mays a two-year good behaviour bond. The case got extensive media attention in the US (in Vanity Fair), Australia, 60 Minutes, and the Newscorp media.

At a NSW Supreme Court Hearing on Friday, July 5, before Justice Peter Garling, the court was told that Crenshaw’s case against Mays was settled. No details of the settlement were made public. Garling noted that an earlier attempt at mediation had not been successful and said that further mediation may be wise.

The earlier mediation attempt came close, with Crenshaw’s legal team telling the court “the matter had been resolved,” but broke down over the issue of a non-disclosure agreement.

Garling asked about a “joint experts report.” Defence lawyer Camilleri told the court that it had “not yet been served.” This report presumeably is about assessing what damages might be appropriate. Camilleri was given leave to serve an amended statement of claim by July 19, with the defendants to serve any response by July 31 – with a further hearing before Justice Garling on August 2.
The full court case is set for February 2025. The first court filing occurred in 2022.

In an amended statement of claim submitted by Crenshaws’ legal representative, Samantha Camillieri, the incident that led to the court case is described as a “sexual assault.” However, the charge to which Mays had pleaded guilty in 2020 was the lesser charge of “assault with an act of indecency.”

In the earlier case, the magistrate described the assault as Mays putting his arms “arms around the upper legs and crotch and bottom area on the outside of the complainant’s clothing.” The allegations in the statement of claim about the touching of clothed areas use the word “vagina” rather than “crotch” and add that Mays kissed Crenshaw’s exposed stomach – which was disputed by witnesses in the magistrate’s court.

Crenshaw’s claim for damages says, “It was an implied term” that Hillsong College “would exercise all due care and skill in the provision of the deliverance of the Bachelor of Theology” in which Crenshaw was enrolled.

Mays was under the control of Hillsong church – and was a worship leader – according to the damages claim. Hillsong denies that Mays was employed as a worship leader, but says he led church services sometimes as a volunteer. Hillsong’s defence says the gathering at the house where the assault took place was “a private event of which it had no advance knowledge and that it was not conducted, endorsed or sanctioned by Hillsong.’

A controversial clause in the damages claim implies that tithing was mandatory at Hillsong. “At all material times the Plaintiff [Crenshaw] paid ‘tithes’ to the First Defendant [Hillsong Church] and the First Defendant agreed for reward to provide the Plaintiff membership of Hillsong and access to religious services which were run by Hillsong.”

In the defence document, Hillsong church states that any tithes were voluntary, denies that tithes were a requirement for access to Hillsong services and “denies the existence of a contract or agreement with the plaintiff in the manner and circumstances pleaded or at all.”

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