MISSOURI LAWMAKER PHYSICALLY, SEXUALLY ABUSED HIS KIDS, HOUSE ETHICS PANEL SAYS
April 20, 2021
SPRINGFIELD, Missouri — The Missouri House ethics committee formally accused a Kansas City-area lawmaker of abusing his kids and recommended his expulsion.
In a 12-page report released Monday, the half-Republican, half-Democratic panel said it had confirmed allegations that Rep. Rick Roeber, R-Lee’s Summit, sexually abused two of his young children in 1990 and physically and mentally abused all four.
The committee further said that their findings revealed Roeber as “unfit to serve as a representative in the Missouri General Assembly.”
The panel lamented that Roeber’s ex-wife and the children had reported the abuse for decades ago to no avail, and made clear its desire to remedy that with lengthy excerpts from testimony it heard from Roeber’s children and notes on how he could be charged criminally.
“The State of Missouri has failed these children for over 20 years,” the report read. “Although this Committee cannot change the past, this Committee can provide a clear record of (Roeber’s) abuse conduct.”
The crux of the committee’s newly established record begins with testimony from Roeber’s eldest child, whom he adopted.
That child, who has been identified elsewhere but is referred to as Child 1 in the report, told the committee she was “groomed by (Roeber) from a very young age,” noting that when the two would ride in the car, he would have his hand on her upper thigh “just kind of rubbing it.”
In one incident, she said, Roeber took her hand and placed it on his genitals.
“I didn’t know what to do,” she told the committee. “I just froze there. I was 9.”
Roeber’s ex-wife told the committee that the eldest child told her about the abuse in 1993, the year after the divorce.
The committee said a second child, who did not testify, also told authorities they’d been sexually abused by Roeber at age 5. That disclosure to a therapist led to a state investigation that found probable cause to believe “sexual maltreatment” had occurred, but the finding was later overturned.
Roeber’s ex-wife said the reversal at the Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board came as Roeber was seeking a position at a local church that would involve working with children.
She said she had an attorney working for her at the time, but the attorney couldn’t make the board hearing.
Two other children also testified before the committee and recounted regular physical abuse.
One of them described “constant beatings” with a belt, often for insignificant things like spilling milk, according to the report. The same child said Roeber would hold his children against the wall by their necks and lift upward until they could not breathe.
The other child said the whole family had suffered “a hellish nightmare” because of Roeber.
Roeber denies charges of abuse
Roeber, for his part, denied all charges, telling the committee they were part of “a political hit” and “a setup,” according to the report.
At one point, he implied that his kids were part of the “political hit,” telling the committee, “all my kids are Democrats.”
The ethics panel responded in its report, saying it found Roeber’s testimony "in all material respects related to this investigation, to be not credible.”
The report also notes House Republican leadership has been in touch with the Jackson County prosecutor about the case and expressed concern for a step-grandchild of Roeber who has weekend visits with him.
It was not immediately clear whether any progress had been made on criminal charges, but a vote to expel Roeber from the House is expected Wednesday.
Roeber tried to resign last week before the report was released, claiming he would soon move out-of-state, but his colleagues unanimously rejected the idea, clearing the way for more punitive action.
Roeber would be only the second person expelled from the legislature in state history, joining Rep. John Sampson, a secessionist from Callaway County expelled in 1865, in infamy.
His resignation was overwhelmingly rejected to allow the ethics committee time to finish and release its report.
“This is a serious allegation,” Rep. Richard Brown, the top Democrat on the chamber’s ethics committee, said at the time. “It’s not right to accept this resignation and allow this member to escape without us giving full recognition to what has taken place here.”
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