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Missouri committee recommends lawmaker be expelled over alleged abuse of his children

Jeanne Kuang, The Kansas City Star on

Published in News & Features

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A Missouri House committee has recommended Lee’s Summit Rep. Rick Roeber be expelled from office after finding that he sexually and physically abused his now-adult children when they were young.

In the House Ethics Committee’s report released late Monday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers deemed the freshman Republican’s accusers — including his ex-wife and three of his four children — credible. They testified he had committed acts that under Missouri law would constitute “sexual contact” or “deviate sexual intercourse,” according to the report.

The committee also found accusations of physical abuse by Roeber, including beatings and an incident that left one child with a scarred eyelid. The evidence in the case, which included testimony from five witnesses, was “clear and convincing,” the committee said.

Witnesses described to the committee a household terrorized by an alcoholic Roeber who sexually abused two children and physically abused all four, frequently beating the children with a belt, and at one point drowned several puppies.

“The state of Missouri has failed these children over 20 years,” the committee wrote.

The grim findings came less than a week after the House unanimously took the unusual step of forcing Roeber to remain a state representative while the committee finished its investigation, with lawmakers citing the seriousness of the allegations.

 

Roeber had tried to resign as the committee’s investigation neared its conclusion, after being told of the committee’s recommendations and initially indicating he would object to them in a formal hearing, according to the report. After lawmakers rejected his resignation last Thursday, he is now likely to become only the second Missouri House member ever expelled. The first was in 1865, for disloyalty to the Union.

The vote to expel, which will require a two-thirds majority, is expected this week. Roeber turned in his state Capitol entry badge last week, the committee said.

Lawmakers have indicated they support further consequences for Roeber, including criminal prosecution. In the report’s conclusion, the committee emphasized Roeber’s alleged actions constitute felonies. House leaders earlier had contacted prosecutors about the investigation.

Testifying in his defense before the Committee, Roeber was “combative, defensive, defiant and at times angry,” according to the report. He called the accusations a “political hit” and said, “all my kids are Democrats.”

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