Effort is on to jail monk for prior rap

Author: Zeke MacCormack
Date Published: 05/31/2007

Claiming Samuel A. Greene Jr. violated his probation on a prior indecency rap, prosecutors now want the founder of Christ of the Hills Monastery imprisoned for that crime.
Blanco County Assistant District Attorney Cheryl Nelson said Thursday that she’ll file a motion today in state district court in Johnson City to revoke probation.

Greene, now 62, pleaded guilty in 2000 to nine counts of indecency with a novice monk in 1997 and was sentenced to 10 years probation and a $10,000 fine. Nelson now plans to seek the maximum sentence of 20 years.

Greene and four followers are awaiting trial on newer sexual abuse complaints leveled last year by two other men who studied at the monastery outside Blanco in the 1990s.

Defense attorney Mark Stevens said Thursday he’d heard the state aims to revoke Greene’s probation, but didn’t know on what grounds.

”We’ll just have to see what they allege and respond to it in court,” he said.

The newer charges stem from admissions that Greene, a registered sex offender, allegedly made to his probation officer.

Stevens has asked a judge to suppress the statements, saying Greene was under court orders to be truthful and cooperative with probation officers when directed to reveal past offenses.

Word of the state’s bid to incarcerate Greene for the old offenses arose the same week a $1 million lawsuit judgment was entered against Ecumenical Monks Inc., the nonprofit set up by Greene, which owns the 105-acre site.

James B. Wright Jr., who’s also a complainant in one of the pending criminal cases, last year filed suit over the alleged abuses against Greene and two other monks, the monastery, the nonprofit and the Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church outside of Russia, which had ties to Greene’s group from 1991-99.

Wright’s lawyer, Mark Long, said Thursday the negotiated judgment ends that litigation, noting his client previously received about $650,000 combined from settlements reached with the other defendants.

To satisfy the new judgment, Long wants to take possession of the now-defunct monastery property owned by the nonprofit and sell it. ”Our goal is to shut them down and make them sell that so they don’t have the ability to use that property to do anything like this again,” Long said.

He said his client, a 26-year-old former Marine, is undergoing
counseling to deal with his alleged mistreatment there.

”He’s getting on with his life. He’s building a home. He’s got a new baby,” said Long.

Wright plans to testify for the state at trial, if called, but he and the state may be at odds over the property’s disposition.

After a police raid in July at the complex, the state filed pleadings to seize it, calling it contraband used in the commission of crimes.

Long plans to file a lien on the property next month to secure the million-dollar judgment, but said it’s unclear if Wright’s claim will trump the state’s pending effort to seize it.

But, he said, ”I think that the victim should be taken care of before the state gets to sell the property and keep the money, and I would hope that the state would be willing to talk to us about a resolution.”

Even if Wright gets the site, it may not cover his judgment.

The Blanco County Appraisal District has set a market value of $762,100 on the land, and $69,580 more on buildings there.