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Hostel operator pleads not guilty to burglary of own leaser's room

A local environmental activist pleaded not guilty to one count of burglary Monday, a charge he calls a “hideous violation of my rights.”

Chad Kister, 4592 Bessemer Road in Nelsonville, was charged with one count of burglary — specifically trespassing in a habitation — after he allegedly forced his way into the bedroom of a leaser Sunday in the hostel he operates on the second floor of his house, according to court documents.

Kister allegedly pushed aside the victim, who, according to court documents, is five months pregnant, and then entered her bedroom without her permission.

The victim and her unborn child were unharmed, Athens County Sheriff Pat Kelly said.

Kister denied the charge and said it is a violation of his rights. He said he is the victim in the incident.

“I didn’t push or touch her. I simply had to do my job to protect my land,” Kister said, adding that the victim had violated her lease by committing daily criminal damage to his hostel, for which she pays $300 a month to rent a bedroom.

Kister said he would like to perform background checks on his leasers but that the cost would be too high.

He declined to provide contact information for the victim.

Kister appeared via video in Athens County Municipal Court for his arraignment hearing Monday morning, Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said.

Kister pleaded not guilty to the charge and was released on $55 bail Monday from the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.

Burglary is a fourth-degree felony. Kister could be sentenced to a maximum of 18 months in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000 if convicted of the charge at trial, according to Ohio Revised Code.

Kister is due back in court at 2 p.m April 25. for a preliminary hearing, Blackburn said.

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