Daughter: I lost my mother to 'cult-like' religious order

WCF Courier, Iowa/January 16, 2012

Independence, Iowa --- No matter how the situation at Buchanan Abbey plays out, Bobbie Fleming predicts no winners and less joy.

Roseanna Gevelinger is lost to her. She will remain out of reach, whatever happens to Ryan St. Anne Scott.

Gevelinger is Fleming's mother. She also is Scott's faithful follower.

"No, I don't see a happy ending. I don't see any way out of it."

Gevelinger, now in her mid- to late 80s, connected with Scott at a "traditional" Roman Catholic community in North Dakota, according to Fleming. When the situation up north soured in 2004, board members for the Shrine of Our Lady of the Prairies asked Scott to leave.

Gevelinger followed him to his Holy Rosary Abbey in Galesburg, Ill., and then to Buchanan Abbey near Independence.

According to Scott's testimony at a bankruptcy hearing Friday, Gevelinger legally adopted the self-proclaimed monk two years ago in Knox County in Illinois. His drivers license issued in that state bears the name Ryan Patrich Scott Gevelinger.

Scott at the time would have been 56 or 59 years old. Scott, whose real name is Randell Dean Stocks, has provided more than one date of birth over the years.

"Supposedly my mother adopted him. All of my siblings and I have heard this, but I would like to see some documentation," Fleming said.

As Scott's enterprise was failing in Galesburg, he signed a two-year deal in April to buy the former Buchanan County home. His group, including Gevelinger, and his llamas arrived in Iowa soon after.

"I've always felt it was very much cult-like," she said of Scott's religious community. "My mother would literally drink the Kool Aid for him."

Now, Scott's hold on the property near Independence is faltering. County Attorney Shawn Harden filed court papers for Buchanan County Friday to evict Scott's group.

Scott filed for personal bankruptcy in December in Iowa, a few weeks after initiating a similar case on behalf of the Holy Rosary Abbey in Illinois. In the two cases combined, Scott claims financial liabilities that could total from $400,000 to more than $800,000, according to court documents.

Fleming called the Buchanan County Attorney's Office and Buchanan County Sheriff's Office last week to share her worries.

"Her concern was primarily that she tends to think that Scott will take off in the middle of the night as he has in other communities," Harden said.

Fleming called Buchanan Abbey, but her request to talk with her mother was initially denied.

"They said she was downstairs," Fleming said.

Her mother called back on Wednesday.

"I just asked her if she was doing OK. She said yes, and 'Why are you asking?'" Fleming said.

Fleming told her mother about emails that included information about Scott's bankruptcy and pending eviction. Gevelinger wanted to know who sent them, her tone curt and filled with suspicion.

"I said, 'What does it matter? It doesn't matter,'" Fleming said. " ... I care about you and want to help you.'"

"She became very indignant and defensive," Fleming said.

The conversation ended in frustration for Fleming. She ultimately hung up on her mother.

Scott reportedly has power of attorney for Gevelinger, meaning he legally controls her affairs. She apparently has --- or had --- a significant amount of personal wealth.

If that has been exhausted, Fleming warned the county attorney, Scott would no longer need the elderly woman.

"She is concerned that her mother's usefulness to Scott has lapsed," Harden said.

Fleming said she is worried.

"My big concern is --- where are they going to go? Is she going to go with Ryan, or will she finally see him for what he is?" she asked.

Authorities in Illinois and Iowa have raised the possibility Scott may attempt to flee, particularly now that Buchanan County is pursuing eviction.

"So now he's basically the equivalent of a tenant who won't leave the property after their lease is expired," Harden said.

James Inghram, a bankruptcy trustee in Illinois, conducted a creditors meeting Friday in Galesburg. Before it began, he received a telephone call about a truck and livestock trailer parked outside Scott's facility near Independence.

"This morning we filed our forcible entry and detainer stuff," Harden said. "When the sheriff's office went out to serve that, honestly, we kind of figured he was going to blow off going to court in Illinois like he has before."

The deputy noted the trailer was not one previously seen on the property, according to Harden.

Sheriff Bill Wolfgram said officers have been to the property several times to serve court documents. He's not certain how many people live in the former county home.

"We are aware that he has followers. Who is out there, we don't really know," Wolfgram said.


Fleming admits the relationship with her mother years ago was strained, but they reconciled when Gevelinger lived in North Dakota.

"Then when she hooked up with Ryan ... it just rapidly deteriorated," Fleming said.

As as an example, Fleming said, she once sent flowers on her mother's birthday to Illinois abbey.

"About a week later I got them back in the mail, dead in a box. They were sent in a vase. She repacked them and sent them," Fleming said. "Before Ryan, that would not have happened."

According to Fleming, Gevelinger reportedly once told authorities she does not want her children contacted after her death.

Fleming said her dream would be for Scott to go to jail and her mother to reunite with her family.

"I don't see that happening. He keeps slipping through the cracks all the time," she said.

"My mother is so committed to him, I suspect she would blame everyone else for his demise. That would unfortunately include myself."

Scott did not respond to emails from The Courier seeking comment. The person who answered the Buchanan Abbey's telephone Saturday said Gevelinger was not available.

"I'm sorry. She's upstairs right now. Can I take a message?"

After learning the newspaper was calling, the person declined to go farther.

"I don't think she wants to talk to you."

A woman who identified herself as Gevelinger returned the call moments later.

"Oh, I'm just fine, just like the sunny weather today," she said.

Gevelinger declined to answer any questions, however.

"I don't want you to call me again or contact me. I appreciate your interest. Thank you."

A hearing on the eviction is scheduled at 11 a.m. Wednesday in the Buchanan County Courthouse.

Tina Hinz contributed to this story.

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