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Criminal case continues against self-proclaimed monk

The Howard County court will continue a case against a self-proclaimed Catholic monk, accused of coercing a woman to give him thousands of dollars.

Ryan St. Anne Gevelinger, who also is known as Ryan Patrich Scott, Abbott Ryan St. Anne Scott, and his birth name, Randell Stocks, said he runs the Holy Rosary Abbey, a Benedictine monastery in Armstrong, a small town north of Fayette in Howard County. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Gevelinger last month for allegedly trying to get a woman to sell her Iowa land to help pay for the church.

The woman, 86-year-old Patricia Baldridge, testified in court Friday morning about her relationship and involvement with Gevelinger and his abbey. Baldridge was living with Gevelinger at the church starting in May 2014 after she moved with him and others from St. Louis. They took over an old church on Snoddy Street in the small Howard County town, with Baldridge living in a double-wide trailer they purchased after moving. Baldridge said she made monthly “donations” to the abbey, totaling $1,500 each month.

Baldridge said she saw Gevelinger as a “spiritual adviser,” praying together in the refurbished abbey. Together, they practiced a sect of Catholicism that rejects some changes made to the Catholic church at the Second Vatican Council, or “Vatican 2,” held from 1962 to 1965.

Property records obtained by ABC 17 News show the Holy Rosary Abbey owed $30,000 to its previous owner, a French musician named Olivier de la Celle, by April 1. The county assessor’s office said it, as well as the nearly $700 in property taxes for 2014, had not been paid.

Baldridge left the abbey in late March, when deputies, Missouri State Highway Patrolmen and an employee from the state’s Health and Senior Services division came to get her. In the sheriff’s department’s probable cause statement against Gevelinger, Baldridge called a deputy concerned with the self-styled monk’s attitude. Gevelinger claimed the Moberly Police Department was harassing him about donations to the church, and Baldridge feared his anger.

However, Baldridge denied in court knowing why she called deputies in late March, and that she had never feared Gevelinger when he became upset.

Deputy Russ Harrison, the person who wrote the probable cause statement, said he became concerned in early March when Baldridge presented him an amendment to her trust. The woman asked Harrison to notarize the deal, which would provide the Holy Rosary Abbey with a larger portion of the estate than her seven children. Baldridge told him Gevelinger, whom she and others called “Father Ryan”, helped her write the amendment.

Matthew Radefeld, Gevelinger’s attorney, said Baldridge wanted the abbey to have a large portion for taking care of her while she lived there. She served on the board of directors for the church, referred to as Sister Monica within the organization. She saw the change as a thanks to the people who helped her, instead of an act of coercion, as the criminal charges he faces claim. Radefeld also said Harrison, the deputy who wrote the probable cause statement, was too close to the situation to be trusted. The trust listed him as a co-trustee of Baldridge’s estate. Harrison also told the court he and Gevelinger spoke frequently in the year he lived at the old church in Armstrong, discussing the teachings of God, among other topics.

Her son, Joe, told the court of the frequent times his mother would ask for money. She would demand rent early for the farm he leased from his mother and late father. Joe Baldridge said she spent most of her money there on surveyors in Howard County, and needed more to help make satisfy the contract by April 1.

The court will arraign Gevelinger on May 6

(Editor’s note, 5/1, 6:52 p.m.: This article has been updated from its original version, titled ‘Man claiming to be priest accused of stealing from elderly woman appears in court.’)

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