4 Monks Plead Not Guilty
Charged with Assault of Child at Blanco County Monastery

American-Statesman [Texas]
August 1, 2006

Four monks from Christ of the Hills Monastery near Blanco pleaded not guilty Monday to charges of sexual assault of a child and organized criminal activity.

At their court appearance in Johnson City, three monks — Walter Paul Christley, 45, Hugh Brian Fallon, 40, and William Edward Hughes, 55 — requested additional time to hire lawyers or obtain court-appointed lawyers, Blanco County District Attorney Sam Oatman said. A fourth, monastery founder Samuel Alexander Greene, 61, who was released on personal recognizance because of health problems, waived his right to an arraignment but also pleaded not guilty, Oatman said.

The fifth man charged after a raid on the monastery last week, Jonathan Irving Hitt, 45, is serving a 10-year sentence for sexually assaulting a 12-year-old novice monk. Hitt has not entered a plea on the new charges, Oatman said.

Authorities are investigating "the possibility of other victims coming forward" but have not identified additional victims, Oatman said.

Last week, authorities seized photographs and other evidence from the monastery. Oatman declined to characterize the photographs, saying investigators were still sorting through the evidence.

"We have bushels of it to work with," he said.

On Saturday, Blanco County Sheriff Bill Elsbury said reports that a meth lab was seized from the monastery were untrue.

A date for the monks' next court appearance for pre-trial hearings has not been set, Oatman said.


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