Republican accused of abusing his children denied membership in House GOP caucus

By: - December 14, 2020 12:40 pm
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, the Republican elected to the Missouri House while facing allegations by his adult children that he physically and sexually abused them when they were young, will not be allowed to caucus with his party when the legislative session begins next month.

Roeber will be sworn into office next month, and the allegations against him will be investigated by the House ethics committee.

Rick Roeber

“Our House leadership team takes the troubling allegations against Rep.-elect Rick Roeber very seriously and we have decided he will not be a member of our caucus at this time,” incoming House Speaker Rob Vescovo, incoming Majority Floor Leader Dean Plocher and Speaker Pro Tem John Wiemann said in a joint statement released Monday afternoon.

“When the 2021 legislative session commences in January,” the statement said, “the House Ethics Committee will conduct a thorough investigation of the accusations made by his children. We will await the committee’s recommendations for the next steps to take in this matter.”

The House has the authority to expel a member with a two thirds vote. Short of that, Roeber’s exile from his party’s caucus could eventually translate into House leadership refusing to allow him to serve on any committees or allow any bills he files to progress through the legislative process.

In response to a request for comment by The Independent, Roeber forwarded a letter he sent to Vescovo saying that he can “see the wisdom in making me a caucus of one at this juncture to allow any ethics complaints against me to be investigated and discussed. As I have stated, I am guiltless of any of the accusations against me and will be fully exonerated through due process.”

He added that he expects to be fully admitted to the GOP caucus after the ethics committee’s investigation is complete.

Last month, three of Roeber’s children — Anastasia Roeber, Samson Roeber and Gabrielle Galeano — sent a letter to Vescovo detailing the allegations and pleading that Roeber be prevented from serving as a state representative.

In October, 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, who’s district includes parts of Lee’s Summit and surrounding areas in Jackson County, has vehemently denied the accusations of abuse, pointing to the state’s decision to argue he was exonerated.

House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, said she is thankful that GOP leaders made the decision not to caucus with Roeber, although “I wish there had been statements made or actions taken prior to the election so we wouldn’t be in this situation.”

Ideally, Quade said, Roeber will resign before being sworn in next month. But if he is seated as a state representative and an ethics investigation is launched, she said the priority should be not to re-traumatize his children.

“I hope we can look at the available public documents,” she said, “and that his adult children aren’t forced to testify and relive the trauma over and over again.”

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has been writing about Missouri since 2011, most recently as lead political reporter for The Kansas City Star. He has spent nearly two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, and has a track record of exposing government wrongdoing and holding elected officials accountable.

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