Archive for Tuesday, August 1, 2006

Monks plead not guilty to child sex charges

August 1, 2006

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— Four monks pleaded not guilty to charges alleging a boy was sexually assaulted at a Texas monastery that draws thousands of visitors every year, officials said Monday.

Authorities raided the Christ of the Hills Monastery in Johnson City last week in search of "instruments of child abuse," Blanco County Dist. Atty. Sam Oatman said.

The four monks, plus another serving a 10-year prison sentence for indecency with a minor, were arrested and indicted after a young man claimed he had been assaulted at the monastery beginning in 1993, when he was in his teens. Oatman said another accuser has come forward, and others could follow.

Three of the monks appeared in court in shackles and orange corrections jumpsuits Monday and entered not guilty pleas to charges of sexual assault of a child and organized criminal activity. Monastery founder Samuel Greene, 61, who is ill, was not in court but has pleaded not guilty, Oatman said.

The fifth monk, Jonathan Hitt, 45, was convicted in 1999 of indecency with a 14-year-old novice monk at the Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery. Oatman said Hitt has not entered a plea on the new charges.

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