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Insider's statement accuses Blanco monks

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  • Melanie Jula Sakoda
    Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA040907.01B.blanco_m onks.36c3e7c.html Insider s statement accuses Blanco
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 9, 2007
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      Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda


      Insider's statement accuses Blanco monks


      Zeke MacCormack

      BLANCO — An insider's account of life at the Christ of the Hills
      Monastery bolsters claims that its monks bilked worshippers, had sex
      with each other and used illegal drugs.

      That troubling portrait is painted in a recently disclosed statement
      by Hugh Fallon, one of five monks awaiting trial on charges of
      sexually abusing youngsters at the monastery in the 1990s.

      "There was present in the monastery a 'group' often referred to as
      the 'inner circle' wich (sic) engaged in oral sex and pot smoking,"
      Fallon wrote July 25, the day local, state and federal authorities
      raided the hilltop site.

      The account by the monk also called "Father Tihkon" also says the
      monastery's famed "weeping icon" — a painting of the Virgin Mary said
      to cry tears of myrrh — was a fraud perpetrated with oil applied with
      an eyedropper.

      Fallon's five-page handwritten statement to police was part of a
      March 19 order by District Judge Dan Mills that denied defense
      motions to suppress Fallon's account and the search warrant executed
      on the religious premises.

      The original indictment had charges of sexual assault of a
      child/organized crime related to the alleged assaults against five
      monks, including Sam A. Greene Jr., the monastery's founder and
      spiritual leader, known as "Father Benedict." Also indicted were
      Fallon; Jonathan Hitt; Walter Christley, also known as "Father
      Pangratios"; and William Hughes, the monastery's abbot, who goes
      by "Father Vasili."

      Greene also was charged with sexual performance by a child.

      In January, more charges were brought against Greene, Christley and

      Christley was indicted on charges of sexual assault of a child and
      sexual assault of a child/organized crime over alleged incidents from
      Dec. 1, 1998. Hughes and Greene were indicted on charges of sexual
      assault of a child/organized crime for the same alleged incident.

      These days, the painting that once drew thousands of visitors monthly
      has been seized, and the monastery's entrance is blocked by a crude
      fence fashioned of brush and rock that bears a sign that reads "Keep

      The state is trying to seize the 105-acre site owned by Ecumenical
      Monks Inc., calling it "contraband" used in the commission of money
      laundering, theft, fraud and child molestation.

      Revelations about the icon led officials to talk last summer of
      federal mail fraud charges, but Daryl Fields of the U.S. attorney's
      office, said, "We're simply deferring any action until the state
      completes its cases."

      All the defendants are free on bond except Hitt, who is serving a 10-
      year sentence returned in 1999 on a charge of indecency with a child
      based on a novice monk's complaint.

      In 2000, Greene pleaded guilty to the same charge, based on an outcry
      by the same boy, and was sentenced to 10 years of probation.

      Authorities said the latest charges arose from Greene's bid to clear
      his conscience — after failing a polygraph test — by recounting past
      misdeeds at the behest of his probation officer.

      Former followers Greene allegedly named as victims were then located,
      officials said, and some offenses were confirmed.

      "We're very much looking forward for justice to be done and to
      putting an end to all of the criminal acts that took place as a
      result of the actions of these men," Assistant District Attorney
      Cheryl Nelson said.

      Greene's trial was initially set for today in Johnson City, but the
      proceedings have been postponed until the Department of Public Safety
      crime lab finishes examining computers seized from the monastery,
      which is 5 miles southwest of Blanco.

      Greene's attorney, Mark Stevens, has filed motions seeking to
      suppress statements to probation officers, treatment providers and
      other officials.

      "As a probationer receiving sex offender treatment, Mr. Greene is
      ordered to attend therapy, and to truthfully answer all questions put
      to him," said Stevens in a motion filed Feb 23. "The state now
      attempts to use his answers, made during the course of therapy, and
      compelled by the threat of revocation, to convict him of a crime and
      send him to prison."

      In Judge Mills' ruling denying the motion to suppress Fallon's
      statement, he said Fallon voluntarily waived his right to remain
      silent and offered to talk to investigators about an hour after
      police raided the monastery.

      In his account, Fallon said he was drawn to the monastery in 1991
      after reading reports about the weeping icon.

      When Greene later confided that the icon was a fraud, Fallon
      wrote, "I was shocked and had tremendous inner conflict."

      Fallon said he later found himself printing fliers that espoused the
      icon's holiness, while another monk put "tears" of lamp oil on cotton
      balls that were mailed to unsuspecting believers.

      "I understand that the money that came into the monastery was largely
      because of this hoax," Fallon said in his statement. "I regret and
      apologize for my complicity."

      He said Greene, 62, encouraged sexual encounters among his flock and

      "When people were having problems, Sam Green (sic) would offer
      marijuana and back rubs and, very slowly, sex," Fallon wrote.

      At Greene's trailer near the monastery last week, a monk clad in a
      black robe and holding an open Bible in hand answered the door and
      said, "We don't want to talk."

      Greene's clan followed Eastern Orthodox traditions but has not been
      affiliated with any denomination since 1999, when an autonomous U.S.-
      based branch of the Russian Orthodox Church cut its ties with the
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