Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda
Monks' accuser reaches $1 million settlement with monastery
Man who says monks molested him will try to force sale of their
Blanco County land.
By Patrick George
Friday, June 01, 2007
A former novice monk who says he was molested at a Blanco County
monastery has reached a $1 million settlement with the monastery.
The attorney for the monks' accuser, James Wright Jr., says the only
way Wright is likely to get his money is through the sale of the 105-
acre site the monks called home.
Wright lived at Christ of the Hills monastery from 1998 to 1999 when
he was 15 after his parents sent him there because he was acting out.
He claims he was sexually abused by three of the monks there:
monastery founder Samuel Greene Jr. and monks William Edward Hughes
and Walter Paul Christley.
Wright sued and reached a settlement for about $500,000 in December
with the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia; the nonprofit
Ecumenical Monks Inc., which owns the monastery's land a few miles
outside of Blanco; Greene; and Hughes.
Ecumenical Monks settled with Wright on Wednesday.
"They don't have $1 million," said Wright's attorney, Mark Long. But
Long said the monks' land is valued between $700,000 and $750,000,
and he and his client will attempt to acquire and sell the property.
"We wanted to make sure the settlement amount exceeded the value of
the land so we could acquire the property," Long said.
Michael W. White, a San Antonio attorney representing Greene, said
Wednesday's settlement was a better option than his clients facing a
"Neither side is admitting right or wrong," White said. "This was a
way to cut our losses instead of risking going to trial."
Greene, a former real estate salesman and boys' group home
supervisor, founded Christ of the Hills as a Russian Orthodox
monastery in 1981. The black-robed monks took in teenagers as novices
and attracted thousands of visitors who came to see a Virgin Mary
icon that the monks said wept tears of myrrh; a monk later told
authorities the monks faked the tears using an eyedropper.
The church broke ties with the monastery in 1999 after an earlier
criminal investigation into a 13-year-old boy's claim of sexual abuse
by Greene and monk Jonathan Hitt. Greene was sentenced to 10 years of
probation, and Hitt received a 10-year prison sentence. Last summer,
five of the monks Christley, Greene, Hitt, Hughes and Hugh Brian
Fallon were indicted on charges of sexual assault of a minor and
engaging in organized crime.
White said the monks are out on bail while their criminal cases are
"They haven't had much in the way of the monastic life," White said.