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Author Topic: Police raid monastery, accuse 5 monks of sexual assault  (Read 4085 times) Average Rating: 0
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Veniamin
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« on: July 25, 2006, 09:41:25 PM »

Saw this after getting home from work/class today:

(Oops, forgot the link: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/crime/stories/MYSA072506.monks.EN.26fb9a6.html)

Quote
Dozens of law enforcement officers raided the Christ of the Hills Monastery outside Blanco this morning, armed with indictments that accuse five monks of sexually assaulting a boy there around 1993, officials said.

Samuel A. Greene Jr., the monastery's founder who's on probation after pleading guilty in 2000 to nine counts of indecency with a novice monk, was among those charged with sexual assault of a child and engaging in organized crime relating to the assault, Blanco County Sheriff Bill Elsbury said.

The current investigation began a year ago when Greene, 61, reportedly admitted that he'd sexually assaulted several children more than a decade ago at the religious enclave southwest of Blanco that is famous for its so-called weeping icon, Elsbury said.

Thousands of weekly "pilgrims" once flocked to the duty hilltop monastery to view the picture of the Virgin Mary that was said to cry tears of rose oil.

Many left donations and prayer requests. Still others mailed money to the monastery and were sent back small cotton balls soaked in the icon's "tears."

But Elsbury said Greene, aka "Father Benedict" has also admitted that the icon is a fraud. That information led Elsbury to call the Postal inspectors and Internal Revenue Service investigators into the current case.

"The whole thing is going to be exposed as a sham," said Elsbury. "They just put the tear drops on there themselves and then got all these people making donations trying to get some kind of miracle cure."

He was enroute to Austin on Tuesday morning to serve the indictment against Greene , who also faces one count of sexual performance with a child, at a convalescent home where he's recovering from injuries sustained in a recent car accident.

Before the accident, Greene had lived at the monastery but was in poor health after a series of strokes.

Also charged in the Monday indictments was Walter Paul Christley, 44, and Hugh Brian Fallon, 40, on the sexual assault and organized crime charges.

Jonathan Hitt, formerly known as "Father Jeremiah," who is serving a 10-year prison term after being convicted at trial in 1999 of indecency with the same novice monk that Greene admitted abusing , also has been charged with sexual assault and organized crime.

A suit brought by the youth against the monastery was settled in 2002 for nearly $1 million.

The sordid revelations aired during the criminal trial of Hitt and the civil trial led to a sharp decline in the patronage and finances at the monastery that once was home to 14 monks.

It received more bad press in 2004 when a man wanted in Florida on child molestation charges was found living at the monastery.

The monastery's abbott, William E. Hughes, also known as Father Vasili, claimed he'd have called police if he'd learned of his guest's fugitive status during his 20-month stay.

Hughes, 55, was among those arrested Tuesday, Elsbury said.

Before opening the Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery in 1981, Greene was known around San Antonio for his colorful property pitches on television and radio as "Sam the Land Man."

Drawing on his business expertise, the monastery launched a sophisticated marketing campaign - centered on the weeping icon, that tax records show brought took in as much as $750,000 some years.

Many Blanco County locals were suspicious the black-clad monks who were known at times to drink beers at local watering holes.

Vasili contended that the convictions of Greene and Hitt, and bad press about the monastery, unfairly cast a cloud of suspicion over the remaining monks.

"We do have a hard time and every time someone like you writes one of those articles, it gets worse,'' he said after the arrest of the Florida fugitive.

Arraignment for the five men is scheduled for July 31.
« Last Edit: July 25, 2006, 09:45:29 PM by Veniamin » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 25, 2006, 09:55:46 PM »

Are there any sources listed with the original?
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dantxny
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« Reply #2 on: July 25, 2006, 10:05:46 PM »

Is there any more information on this?  I was actually planning to stop there later this week.  I wonder if I should be reconsidering.
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« Reply #3 on: July 25, 2006, 10:10:43 PM »

That's all I have at the moment.  I'd only even heard about this monastery once in the past and had been told they were some sort of schismatics and that their icon was rumored to be false.

If you're looking for a monastery in that area, though, may I suggest Holy Archangels in Kendalia?  Granted, it'll all be in Greek, but I've always loved every second I spent there.
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« Reply #4 on: July 25, 2006, 10:23:14 PM »

I've seen other reports in the past about this Greene guy.  He's been in trouble with this sort of stuff before.
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Gabriel
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« Reply #5 on: July 25, 2006, 10:25:56 PM »

Quote
Dozens of law enforcement officers raided the Christ of the Hills Monastery outside Blanco this morning, armed with indictments that accuse five monks of sexually assaulting a boy there around 1993, officials said.

Lord have Mercy.
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2006, 11:14:22 PM »

If you're looking for a monastery in that area, though, may I suggest Holy Archangels in Kendalia?  Granted, it'll all be in Greek, but I've always loved every second I spent there.

Ditto.  I know just enough Greek to get by in the services, but it's got a great atmosphere.
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« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2006, 12:09:57 AM »

Jeez oh man... and now, all "black-clad" monks with "weeping icons" are going to be viewed with much more suspicion...
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« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2006, 12:48:49 AM »

"Many Blanco County locals were suspicious the black-clad monks who were known at times to drink beers at local watering holes."

Yeah... forget the serious felonies that they are guilty of, not to mention their complete disregard for your Orthodox canons and protocols... we've caught them red-handed drinking beers!
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« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2006, 12:50:37 AM »

Is outrage!  Angry
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« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2006, 12:57:51 AM »

Real shining beacons of the monastic way of life; going to taverns, molesting children...
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« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2006, 07:57:37 AM »

Updated story: http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA072606.01A.blanco_monks.331a3e4.html

And video: http://www2.mysanantonio.com/multimedia/video/NewsOnDemand/index.cfm?videos=39386

From the new stuff in story, it looks like details came out as a result of a polygraph that one of the previously convicted monks was taking as part of his probation.
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« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2006, 08:59:17 AM »

Just what I needed to see this morning.  I just read an article in the Metro about a Franciscan priest assaulting several boys while visiting Boston.  Turns out this priest was a good friend of mine and a year ahead of me in seminary.  Infact some of the assaults happened while I was still in seminary in Boston.  News like these really are hard to deal with, but when it comes closer to you, even more so.  On one of the lists I'm on there's a rather bad view of monks, this only makes it worse.  Everyone suffers, the children and their families, primarily and the hardest, and the entire church in general.  God help these children to grow beyond this suffering and not to lose their faith in God and His church because of some wolves in sheep's clothing.
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« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2006, 09:08:31 AM »

Burn it to the ground.
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« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2006, 09:26:52 AM »

Burn it to the ground.

Are you talking about the monastery . . . or the new mosque in Athens?   Or. both?  Grin
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« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2006, 09:36:19 AM »

Are you talking about the monastery . . . or the new mosque in Athens?  ÃƒÆ’‚ Or. both?  Grin

Oh Right! BOTH!
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« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2006, 10:38:09 AM »

I always say "It's not the religion that makes the person, but the person that makes the religion."

Lord Have Mercy.

In Christ,
Hadel

Ps: God help the innocent victims, the children.
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« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2006, 10:41:06 AM »

Pokrov.org's got a good bit of poop on these guys...
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« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2006, 06:54:57 PM »

The devil delights in it all - my folk mostly live within hours of Blanco, TX. (Some have even visited as tourists.) Sadly, about all they know about Orthodoxy besides what they read in newspapers or see on FOX TV, is what happens at Blanco, TX. Difficult to explain that one in a manner they'll understand. So - as I said, the devil delights in it all. Lord have mercy. Deliver us, O Lord.
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« Reply #19 on: July 28, 2006, 06:40:21 AM »

Our family frequently visited the Monastery and always found it a place of serenity and a place of beauty set in hill country of Texas.ÂÂ  We were never treated with anything but kindness from the monks and nuns who resided there.ÂÂ  After ROCOR disowned the monastery, it remained much the same except that the two monks accused and convicted were not anywhere to be seen and it was obvious that the monks were very distressed as their numbers began to dwindle.

We are very distressed and in mourning for those who have been hurt and in our family discussions have reminded ourselves that we all sin and that a monastery does not make the Church. We pray for the victims and those who are accused that God's mercy and truth may prevail in this situation.

Lord have Mercy!

In Christ,
Thomas
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« Reply #20 on: July 28, 2006, 07:20:49 AM »

Thanks Thomas. THAT is the attitude He would want.
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« Reply #21 on: July 29, 2006, 12:50:42 AM »

[quote author=Αριστοκλής link=topic=9601.msg129586#msg129586 date=1154085649]
Thanks Thomas. THAT is the attitude He would want.
[/quote]
Absolutely! Thank you.
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« Reply #22 on: August 01, 2006, 07:27:32 PM »

I have a much older friend (even than me) who has visited there a number of times. These things are shocking, but also very sad. And the innocent tend to get tainted along with the guilty in both the press and local gossip.
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« Reply #23 on: August 02, 2006, 11:10:24 AM »

Unfortunately, this made the the AP I think, since it appeared in the main area of Netscape News (my homepage).  The article really isn't written well to tell they reader that the monastery would be renegade/non-canonical nor does it mention that they faked the "miracle" icon.  Sad
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« Reply #24 on: August 02, 2006, 11:44:51 AM »

Unfortunately, this made the the AP I think, since it appeared in the main area of Netscape News (my homepage).  The article really isn't written well to tell they reader that the monastery would be renegade/non-canonical nor does it mention that they faked the "miracle" icon.  Sad

What, the icon was faked? Can you provide a source?
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« Reply #25 on: August 02, 2006, 12:06:27 PM »

What, the icon was faked? Can you provide a source?

Well, the "weeping" part anyway.  Others have said that it looked awefully western as well.  I think one of the articles I read said that the "monks" themselves said the icon was faked after the arrest.
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« Reply #26 on: August 02, 2006, 07:47:17 PM »

I was wondering if these men were actually affiliated with the Orthodox church or did they simply call themselves "orthodox"?Can anyone clear this up for me?
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« Reply #27 on: August 02, 2006, 10:39:52 PM »

They started off fake, joined ROCOR and hence were in a real Orthodox Church, and then left when ROCOR wanted to audit them and joined vagante self-ordained land.

Anastasios
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« Reply #28 on: August 03, 2006, 03:40:52 PM »

Sounds like 5 people are gonna be excommunicated.
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« Reply #29 on: August 03, 2006, 04:50:10 PM »

Sounds like 5 people are gonna be excommunicated.

Excommunicated from what?  They did it to themselves long before they were arrested when they left ROCOR.  I'm sure if you ask GiC, he'll say they never were Orthodox to begin with.
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« Reply #30 on: August 11, 2006, 05:31:44 PM »

They started off fake, joined ROCOR and hence were in a real Orthodox Church, and then left when ROCOR wanted to audit them and joined vagante self-ordained land.

Anastasios

Anastasios, that is correct. Actually they joined Kiev Patriarchate, led by Philaret Denisenko. Only, I am not sure, either they are subordinated to Stephen Bilak, Philaret's "Archbishop" in charge of parishes in USA and Canada and an extreme philetist, or directly to Philaret.
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