Regional
2:40 pm
Wed May 7, 2014

Accountant at Nelson County Monastery Indicted on Theft Charges

A sign welcomes visitors to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County.
A sign welcomes visitors to the Abbey of Gethsemani in Nelson County.
Credit Abbey of Gethsemani

Updated Wednesday at 2:17 p.m.:

An employee at a central Kentucky abbey run by an order of Catholic monks has been indicted on charges that he stole more than $1 million from the institution.

Police say John Hutchins, an accountant, began diverting money from an account at the Abbey of Gethsemani in 2008.

Nelson County Sheriff's Detective Jason Allison says Hutchins and his wife, Carrie Hutchins, were indicted Wednesday on multiple counts of felony theft over and under $10,000 and unlawful access to a computer.

Allison says Hutchins wife did not work at the abbey near Bardstown, which has been run by Roman Catholic Trappist monks for more than 150 years. An attorney for Hutchins did not return a call seeking comment Wednesday. A phone message left at the abbey was not returned.

Original post:

The leadership of a Nelson County monastery is accusing a lay employee of embezzling thousands of dollars from its mail-order business.

That employee, meanwhile, says he’s being falsely accused following allegations he made about monks engaging in sexual relations at the Abbey of Gethsemani.

The Courier-Journal reports a detective with the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office confirms he has been investigating charges against accountant John Hutchins and will present a case against him Wednesday to a grand jury in Bardstown. The monastery’s lawyer denies any connection between the embezzlement allegations and the accusations of alleged sexual affairs.

The spiritual leader of the Abbey of Gethsemani, Abbot Elias Dietz, wrote a letter to monks and employees in February saying that financial irregularities had been discovered, and that Hutchins had been placed on administrative leave. A former employee of the Abbey told the Courier-Journal that the amount of missing money could run into six figures.

Hutchins told the paper he is the victim of a “cover-up” after he went to monastery leaders in January with information about sexual affairs at the Nelson County facility between monks and female lay employees, between monks and outside women, and between a lay supervisor and an employee under his supervision.