Hill Country Monk Faces Sexual Abuse Charges
Opening arguments began Tuesday in the sexual abuse trial of a Hill Country monk.
Williams Hughes faces four counts of sexual abuse as he and three other monks from the Christ of the Hills Russian Orthodox Monastery near Blanco are investigated for sexual abuse, drug use and fraud.
An alleged victim took the stand Tuesday and said while living at the monastery as a teenager, he was sexually abused 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.