The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police has rescinded its endorsement of Rick Roeber, a Republican candidate for the Missouri House accused by his two adult children of physically and sexually abusing them when they were young.
In a letter from Missouri FOP President Rick Inglima to Roeber obtained by The Independent, Roeber was informed that the organization had voted to withdraw its endorsement of his candidacy for Missouri House District 34, a GOP stronghold which includes parts of Lee’s Summit and surrounding areas in Jackson County.
The letter asked him to remove any FOP logo or reference to its previous endorsement from campaign materials.
Roeber responded in a letter saying he regretted the FOP’s decision, denying the allegations of abuse but agreeing to stop mentioning the endorsement.
“I want to stress,” he wrote, “these are baseless allegations that were proved to be wrong decades ago.”
Roeber did not respond to a request for comment from The Independent about the endorsement.
Last month, The Kansas City Star reported that Anastasia Roeber, the candidate’s adopted daughter, said he made improper sexual advances toward her in 1990, when she was 9 years old.
Her sibling, Samson Roeber, told The Star he was physically abused by Roeber as a child, and a third sibling, Gabrielle Galeano, said she was aware of the abuse against both Anastasia and Samson.
Their mother, Michelle Keller, who was once married to Roeber, told The Star — and previously testified under oath — that Anastasia told her she was molested by him in 1993.
Roeber was also accused of sexual abuse by a fourth sibling, who was not named by The Star, in a case that was investigated by the Jackson County office of the Division of Family Services in 2001.
That investigation found probable cause that “sexual maltreatment” of the child had occurred, The Star reported, but two years later the Missouri’s Child Abuse and Neglect Review Board overturned the finding.
Missouri law says records of the board’s deliberations are confidential, so the basis for the decision is not clear.
Roeber has pointed to that decision to argue he was exonerated, though the case in question does not involve accusations from his other children.
Calls to withdraw
Roeber, who is running for the seat left open following the death of his wife, is facing Democrat Chris Hager in next week’s election.
Since the accusations of abuse surfaced against Roeber last month, he has faced bipartisan calls for him to exit the campaign.
Seventeen members of the Missouri Legislature — including Republican state Reps. Jack Bondon, Shamed Dogan, Bill Kidd and Sheila Solon — have joined together to publicly call for Roeber’s withdrawal.
“We the members of the Missouri General Assembly take any allegation of child abuse very seriously,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “Abuse of any kind is never acceptable and will be met by a zero-tolerance policy by the Legislature.”
The House Republican Campaign Committee, a PAC that helps get GOP House candidates elected, told The Missouri Times it was not including Roeber’s district in its list of targeted races.
Democrats have called on GOP leaders, most notably Missouri Gov. Mike Parson, to join in the call for Roeber to step aside.
They note that the Missouri Republican Party publicly denounced the candidacy of Steve West, the party’s nominee for a state House seat in Clay County with a long history of espousing racist, homophobic and anti-Semetic views.
“Republican Party leadership has refused to do what is morally right — to denounce the candidacy of a man credibly accused of physically and sexually assaulting his children,” Missouri Democratic Party Acting Chair Clem Smith said in a statement last week.
Asked about Roeber at a campaign event on Tuesday in Columbia, Parson said he wasn’t aware of the details of the allegations, but if they are true “I would never support anybody like that. I will just put it right that way.”
In an appearance on on the podcast EladPod earlier this month, Missouri GOP Executive Director Jean Evans called the allegations against Roeber “very disturbing.”
“If they’re true,” Evans said, “he’s certainly disqualified from holding public office and probably should be in jail.”
But she said “I don’t know that they’re true.”
“I saw a report, based on what little investigation I could do on my own, that exonerated him from those charges,” she said. “When you’re talking about child abuse, it’s very difficult to investigate something that happened years ago.”
With the election looming, Evans said, “the voters have this information. They can judge for themselves… if they feel this is disqualifying, they should vote for the other candidate.”
In a Facebook post over the weekend, Gabrielle Galeano, the daughter who said she was aware of the alleged abuse while living with her siblings, wrote that “the articles that have been released about my father only scratch the surface of how horrible of a monster he is.”
“I am not one to ever share my private life on social media,” she wrote, “but I can’t not speak out about this.”