A bishop said he was troubled by seeing a boy dressed as a monk at a Central Texas monastery where five men have been accused of child sexual assault charges, but he was told the boy's presence was "our tradition."
Eastern Orthodox Catholic Church Bishop Michael Jachimczyk said he visited the Christ of the Hills Monastery near Blanco once or twice a year in the 1990s and sometimes saw the boy roaming the grounds.
"It was something that always bothered me," said Jachimczyk, who didn't know if the boy he saw is the one who was allegedly sexually assaulted.
Five monks from the Eastern Orthodox Christian monastery, including two with previous convictions for indecency with a child, were indicted Monday on a charge of sexual assault of a child and organized criminal activity. A second alleged victim has come forward, and others could follow, said Blanco County District Attorney Sam Oatman.
"We don't know how many kids have come and gone," Oatman said.
The indictments relate to one boy allegedly assaulted at the monastery between Austin and San Antonio for a period beginning in 1993. Oatman said the boy was older than 14 and younger than 17 at the time.
Jachimczyk said his church is not affiliated with the monastery and he visited because he befriended a sickly nun there.
"My concern was because of all the problems going on in the Catholic Church, it didn't look good," Jachimczyk said. "I just didn't feel comfortable about it."
Local, state and federal law enforcement officials raided the monastery Tuesday in search of "instruments of child abuse," Oatman said, such as pornographic movies. He wouldn't provide details of what authorities found.
The five indicted are monastery founder Samuel Alexander Greene, 61; Walter Paul Christley, 44; Hugh Brian Fallon, 40; Jonathan Irving Hitt, 45; and William Edward Hughes, 55.
Greene, who was booked and released, also is charged with one count of sexual performance of a child. Known as Father Benedict, Greene pleaded guilty six years ago to indecency with a child and was sentenced to 10 years probation.
Hitt, known as Father Jeremiah, is serving a 10-year prison sentence after being convicted in 1999 of indecency with the same novice monk, a 14-year-old studying at the monastery in 1997.
Christley, Fallon and Hughes remained in the Blanco County Jail on Wednesday.
Phone calls and an e-mail to the monastery were not returned Wednesday. Blanco County dispatcher and jailer Allison Klein said the three in jail had applied for court-appointed attorneys.
Oatman said there also could be charges brought relating to the monastery's big draw, an image of the Virgin Mary that's been said to cry tears of myrrh, a sign of divine intervention. The icon has brought in thousands of visitors and their donations for years, but some have questioned the authenticity of the resinous material.
Before opening the monastery in the early 1980s, Greene was known around San Antonio as "Sam the Land Man" because of his property pitches on television and radio.
Guy Chipman, who sold real estate in San Antonio for more than 50 years, said Greene sold lots in subdivisions outside the city.
"He was a monk living out at a monastery, and that was always a little odd," said Chipman, 86, who met Greene only a few times. "But other than that, he seemed all right."
Blanco County Deputy Sheriff W.T. Smith said the investigation lasted about a year but that the monastery has been a place of interest for longer.
"We're continuing on with it, and we expect there will be additional indictments," Smith said.