Submitted by Melanie Jula Sakoda
Insider's statement accuses Blanco monks
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
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
"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