Charges on monks are revised

Author: Zeke MacCormack
Date Published: 06/15/2007

JOHNSON CITY – Prosecutors have decided, for now, not to pursue organized crime charges against Samuel A. Greene Jr., founder of the Christ of the Hills Monastery, and four of his followers.

The men still face charges of sexually abusing novice monks at the religious enclave outside Blanco in the 1990s, but new indictments returned last week omit the organized crime allegations.

Greene, 62, and the others have denied wrongdoing. All are free on bond except Jonathan Hitt, who is serving a 10-year prison sentence meted out in 1999 for indecency with a boy who studied at the now- defunct monastery in 1997.

Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Nelson opted to seek new
indictments on the more recent sexual abuse complaints due to concerns she said state District Judge Dan Mills aired about the organized crime component of indictments last July.

The July indictments alleged the defendants committed the sexual offenses as part of a collaborative effort. The revised indictments, involving the same alleged victim, were returned June 5 and charge Hitt, Hugh B. Fallon, William E. Hughes, Walter P. Christley and Greene of sexually assaulting the child on different dates in the mid-1990s.

Those charges stem from statements – which defense lawyers are trying to suppress – that Greene allegedly made to a probation officer after being sentenced to 10 years probation in 2000 after pleading guilty to indecency with the boy whose charges landed Hitt in prison.

On June 1, Nelson filed a motion to revoke Greene’s probation in that case and imprison him, saying Greene admitted violating the terms of probation by engaging in deviant sex with another monk, smoking marijuana, writing letters to a convicted murderer in prison, hugging a teenage boy at a funeral, and committing fraud by falsely claiming
that a picture kept on the monastery grounds miraculously wept.

Nelson said no date has been set for a hearing on the revocation motion. Greene’s attorney could not be reached.

Greene, Christly and Hughes are also the subject of sex abuse claims by another former novice that generated indictments in January.