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Key charges dismissed in Howard County against self-proclaimed monk

Howard County Prosecutor Stephen Murrell dismissed key charges Wednesday morning in Fayette against a self-proclaimed monk.

Murrell dropped three charges against Ryan Gevelinger: financial exploitation of an elderly person and two counts of attempted financial exploitation of an elderly person.

The charges were dismissed in Howard County Circuit Court before Judge Scott Hayes. Gevelinger’s trial was scheduled to begin Jan. 4 in Moberly.

Howard County prosecutors charged Gevelinger last spring, accusing him of threatening an 86-year-old woman. Sheriff’s deputies arrested Gevelinger in April for allegedly trying to get the woman to sell her Iowa land to help pay for a church in Armstrong.

A deputy who wrote the original probable cause statement testified in court in May that the woman asked him to notarize a deal which would have provided the Holy Rosary Abbey with a larger portion of her estate than her seven children. The woman told the deputy that “Father Ryan” helped her write the amendment.

Gevelinger told ABC 17’s Lucas Geisler in May 2014 that he doesn’t acknowledge the Roman Catholic Church, practicing the order of Saint Benedict instead.

The Diocese of Jefferson City says Gevelinger is not an ordained priest of the Roman Catholic Church.

Gevelinger still has two pending cases in Howard County, including assault against a jail employee. He’s also charged with unlawful possession of a firearm. Prosecutors say he has a felony conviction in Wisconsin.

Murrell says those two cases will be taken up on Dec. 22 and 23 in Fayette.

ABC 17’s Lucas Geisler covered Wednesday’s court hearing in Fayette, and will have more information on ABC 17 News at 5.

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