Children of Republican accused of abuse call for Missouri House to block him from taking office

By: - November 10, 2020 5:40 am
The Missouri House floor for the 2019 State of the State address.

The Missouri House chambers during the 2019 State of the State address (photo courtesy of the Missouri Governors Office).

Rick Roeber was elected to the Missouri House last week while facing allegations by his adult children that he physically and sexually abused them when they were young.

On Monday, his children wrote a letter to House leaders asking that he not be allowed to serve.

Rick Roeber

Three of Roeber’s children — Anastasia Roeber, Samson Roeber and Gabrielle Galeano — sent a letter to incoming House Speaker Rob Vescovo detailing the allegations and pleading that Roeber be prevented from serving as a state representative.

“As the highest office holder in the Missouri House, we are begging you to not allow this to happen,” the letter said. “You have the power to uphold the honor of our government in a time that trust and hope is waning. Please do what is right, not just for us, but for all those in Missouri who have suffered, and all the children you have sworn to protect.”

Reached via email Monday evening, Roeber asked for a copy of the letter before commenting. He did not immediately respond to a follow-up inquiry.

Accusation of abuse

Last month, The Kansas City Star reported that Anastasia, Roeber’s adopted daughter, said he made improper sexual advances toward her in 1990, when she was 9 years old.

Her sibling, Samson, told The Star he was physically abused by Roeber as a child. The third sibling, 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 vehemently denied the accusations of abuse, pointing to the state’s decision to argue he was exonerated.

In the letter to Vescovo, the children point out that the case in question only involved one of the accusations of abuse.

“We want to be clear,” the letter says, “he was never held accountable nor exonerated, as he says, for the physical abuse we all endured or the sexual abuse of Anastasia, as state law at the time prevented criminal charges being sought.”

Roeber, who’s district includes parts of Lee’s Summit and surrounding areas in Jackson County, told The Star last week that he was duly elected and intends to serve.

“Nearly 11,000 who voted for me understand these accusations against me are political and without substantiation,” he said. “Once the Secretary of State certifies my election, I will be seated and neither party can block me from representing District 34.”

Speaking out

The letter says the children never expected to have to share their stories publicly. But after they learned Roeber was running for office, they felt compelled go public.

“Can we tell our story? Will they believe us? Is it worth it?” the letter says. “Reliving the pain all over again every time you see something as small as a yard sign has been overwhelming. But through all that, we absolutely knew we had to say something. That is one of the many battles of being a survivor — what is our responsibility to everyone else in protecting them? Ultimately, we decided to speak up.”

When the allegations were initially reported by The Star, Roeber claimed they were the result of “Parental Alienation Syndrome… a very real mental illness in today’s world.

Roeber faced calls for him to drop out of the legislative race, most notably from 17 members of the Missouri Legislature — including Republican state Reps. Jack Bondon, Shamed Dogan, Bill Kidd and Sheila Solon.

Later, the Missouri FOP revoked its endorsement of his candidacy.

Since his election, Democrats have called for Roeber to be denied the opportunity to represent the district. The House can expel a member with a two thirds vote.

In their letter to Vescovo, Roeber’s children say a judge allowed them to become emancipated “because of the egregious acts he did.”

“We don’t want to go into detail about each and every thing he did. We know you have seen the stories in the paper, and there is so much more than what was reported, but please do not make us relive all of that again,” they wrote. “Please, think if someone did this to your children. Is this the type of characteristics of someone who should be leading our state?”

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.