Blanco Monk Sentenced To 80 Years For Child Sex Assault

Date Published: 10/24/2007
Publication: KXAN (Austin TX)

A Blanco County jury sentenced a former monk to 80 years in prison Wednesday for four counts of sexual assault on a minor.

The jury of 10 men and two women took just more than an hour to convict William Hughes, a former Russian Orthodox monk.

KXAN Austin News spoke exclusively with one of the victims, who wanted to share his thoughts after watching Hughes walk into jail.

“He took advantage of innocence, of purity, of boys, young men, giving their life, who thought they were giving their life to God,” said James Bartlett Wright Jr.

Hughes will be eligible for parole in 40 years.

Following The Verdict

Hughes took the stand during sentencing and broke down in tears.

After the earlier conviction, the Blanco County sheriff and the prosecution reacted to the verdict.

“I compliment the people here as well as the jury for taking responsibility to rectify that wrong,” said Blanco County Sheriff Bill Elsbury.

“I think that justice was done,” said District Attorney Sam Oatman. “I’m satisfied with a guilty verdict on all counts. Since the punishment phase is still going on, I cannot comment any more at this time.”

Accusers Take The Stand

Two accusers took the stand Tuesday, claiming Russian Orthodox monk William Hughes sexually assaulted them.

One of the accusers testified that when he went to live at the Christ of the Hills Russian Orthodox Monastery in the 1990s as a novice monk, he was sexually assaulted by Hughes. He testified he and other novice monks were told sex was not a sin if it’s blessed by the brotherhood.

Hughes’ defense attorney argued that the novice monk at the time was 17, the legal age to consent.

“The state has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the incidences occurred when the victim was under 17 years,” said defense attorney Eddie Shell. “The victim has made previous statements that it was 16-and-a-half 17 he’s not really sure.”

If Hughes is found guilty of the abuse, he could be sentenced to up to 80 years in prison.

Monks Walter Christley and Hugh Fallon will also be going to trial for sexual assault of a child.

Police said the head of the monastery, Samuel Green, 63, committed suicide with prescription painkillers about a month ago. He was also facing charges in the investigation.