A Steelville man was found guilty of violating an order of protection with twenty pages of text messages introduced during the trial as evidence against the defendant.

Phelps County Judge Kenneth Clayton found 56-year-old Gerald Frank guilty of violating an order of protection that was issued against Frank in April 2018 for Frank not to abuse, stalk or communicate with the individual who delivered testimony in the case against Frank.

Phelps County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann handled the case and introduced evidence at the trial saying in June of 2018 the individual who had the order of protection issued against Frank, received a series of messages from an unknown number.  

The individual testified in court that the author of the messages had refused to identify who they were, but the messages referred to matters unique to Frank’s relationship with the individual. The individual said in their testimony that the writing style and emojis were very similar to past messages that Frank had sent her.

Neckermann introduced twenty pages of text messages that he said Frank sent to the individual to support her testimony. Neckermann says the content of those messages combined with the individual’s statement led to Clayton finding Frank guilty of violating the order of protection issued against Frank in 2018.

“We live in an age where more and more communication is not done face-to-face or even by talking on the phone. An ever-growing percentage of communication is electronic, which creates challenges for law enforcement in determining the source of messages like these,” Neckermann says. “Fortunately, in this case, the circumstantial evidence proved the defendant’s guilt.”

Frank has a sentencing hearing scheduled for Oct. 15, 2019.