Blanco County monk guilty of child sex abuse

Author: Zeke MacCormack
Date Published: 10/24/2007

JOHNSON CITY — A jury here found former monk William Hughes guilty on all four counts of sexual assault of a child after 75 minutes of deliberation today.

Arguments in the punishment phase will begin at 2 p.m.. Hughes showed no emotion as the verdict was ready by state District Judge Dan Mills.

In closing arguments, defense attorney Eddie Shell didn’t dispute his client had sex with the victims, now age 29 and 26, in the mid 1990s when they were novice monks at Christ of the Hills Monastery near Blanco. But Shell said it was unclear from testimony whether the sex had occurred before they reached the age of consent.

Daniel Uballe, who was dismissed as an alternate juror when the testimony ended, said the state proved its case convincingly.

He said the monks ”baited” and exploited the boys with kindness and pot. ”I didn’t have no idea they were bringing children and baiting them and abusing them,” said the longtime Blanco resident.

James ”Bart” Wright, the older of the two victims, called the verdict ”great.” The other victim, who was not identified, declined comment. Hughes declined comment.

Prosecutor Cheryl Nelson called Hughes the enforcer of the deviant desires of monastery founder Samuel A. Greene Jr., who died last month.

”You heard evidence these sexual assaults occurred numerous times over a long period of time to both of these two gentlemen,” Nelson said.

Hughes is the second monk convicted of sexually abusing novices at the monastery outside Blanco. Johnathan Hitt was convicted at trial of indecency in 1999 and is serving a 10-year prison sentence.

While not convicted, Greene, 63, pleaded guilty to indecency in 2000. Under a plea deal, he got 10 years deferred adjudication.