Missouri lawmaker expelled over charges of child abuse
An undated image provided by the Missouri House of Representatives shows Missouri State Rep. Rick Roeber. State lawmakers on the Missouri House Ethics Committee voted unanimously to recommend the expulsion of Roeber, who they found to be credibly accused of child abuse. (Tim Bommel/Missouri House of Representatives via The New York Times) -- FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. --
Rick Roeber expelled after GOP House-led investigation
The Missouri House of Representatives voted Wednesday to expel a suburban Kansas City lawmaker over allegations he sexually abused two of his children years ago.
By an almost-unanimous vote, the GOP-led House expelled Rick Roeber, a Republican who was elected in November to represent the Lee’s Summit community.
The vote came after an ethics committee report on Monday that formally accused Roeber of sexually abusing two of his now-adult children when they were 5 and 9. The committee found their allegations credible.
The expulsion was the first time the Missouri House had expelled a member in more than 150 years.
No one opposed Roeber’s ouster, though one lawmaker voted “present” to sidestep taking a position.
“It is unacceptable what he has done to the home life of these children,” GOP House Speaker Rob Vescovo said, according to The Associated Press, during a speech from the chamber floor. “And I find him in the worst capacity to represent the people, and more specifically represent the children, of the 34th District or the children of the state of Missouri.”
Roeber previously told the committee that he didn’t sexually abuse his children.
Several of Roeber’s children testified to House investigators this year he also frequently beat them with a belt, choked them and once drowned a litter of puppies.
One child who said Roeber was sexually abusive told investigators that “to have someone that you are trusting as your parent to treat you in that manner and to not treat you like a child ... takes away your innocence.”
The committee found records showing that his children reported the abuse around the time it allegedly occurred in the 1990s, but the Jackson County prosecutor’s office didn’t file charges. Mike Mansur, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office, said records from the time show the office didn’t file charges because there was insufficient evidence, but that it is reviewing documents provided by the Missouri House.
State Rep. Robert Sauls, a Democrat from Independence who served on the Ethics Committee, said: “The state of Missouri has failed these children, and I will not sit back and let the state of Missouri continue to fail them.”
Roeber tried to resign last week after the Missouri Independent first reported that House leaders went to the Jackson County prosecutor with concerns that Roeber currently has weekend visitations with a child.
Roeber didn’t mention any of the allegations against him in his resignation letter, saying he planned to move out of state to be closer to family.
But the House refused to let him resign, which allowed the Ethics Committee to complete its report and recommend that he be publicly expelled.
“I don’t think it is appropriate for him to walk away on his own terms as he has continued to walk away on his own terms on his children his entire life,” Vescovo said to his colleagues Wednesday.
Lawmakers also agreed with the committee’s recommendation that Roeber should reimburse the House for the roughly $1,570 it spent investigating the claims.
House leaders said in a joint statement Wednesday that they hope law enforcement “will continue the work we started by thoroughly investigating Rick Roeber and the serious allegations against him.”