Legislator quits; investigators fear for safety of child
Citing the “severity of the allegations” against Republican state Rep. Rick Roeber, legislative leaders have asked Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker to help ensure the safety of a minor child with whom Roeber reportedly has regular contact.
Soon after The Independent reported the request from GOP lawmakers to Baker, Roeber announced he was resigning.
Roeber, of Lee’s Summit, was elected to a seat in the Missouri House in November despite allegations by his adult children that he physically and sexually abused them when they were young.
The House Ethics Committee launched an investigation into the allegations in January.
On April 6, House Speaker Rob Vescovo and Ethics Committee Chairman Travis Fitzwater wrote a letter to Baker stating that over the course of the investigation “we have learned information that needs to be forwarded to the proper authorities in your jurisdiction.”
Roeber has regular weekend visits with a minor child, the letter states, and “given the severity of the allegations raised by Rep. Roeber’s children, we are concerned for the safety of this minor child.”
Baker responded later that day in an email to Vescovo, saying she contacted the chief of police in Lee’s Summit and “will work with him to devise a plan.” She also requested transcripts from the House investigation so her office could review them “for potential criminal activity.”
Both the letter and Baker’s response were obtained by The Independent though a records request to the Legislature under Missouri’s Sunshine Law. The identity of the child was redacted from the letter.
Through a spokesman, House leaders declined comment. Neither Roeber nor a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office responded to requests for comment Tuesday morning.
Late last year, The Kansas City Star reported that Roeber’s adopted daughter, Anastasia, said he made improper sexual advances toward her in 1990, when she was 9 years old.
Her sibling, Samson Roeber, said 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 denied all allegations of abuse.
Missouri House run
Roeber’s second wife, Rebecca, was elected to the Missouri House in 2014.
She died in July 2019, four months after an automobile accident on her way to the Missouri Capitol. She was survived by two children and four grandchildren.
Two weeks after her death, Rick Roeber announced he was running for Rebecca’s legislative seat, saying he hoped to see his wife’s legacy continue in Jefferson City.
The allegations involving his children from his first marriage surfaced more than a year later, and just weeks before Election Day. The Missouri Fraternal Order of Police rescinded its endorsement of Roeber, and a bipartisan group of legislators called for him to withdraw from the race.
Roeber rebuffed the calls for him to abandon his campaign, and he defeated his Democratic opponent by 300 votes.
Before Roeber could be sworn into office, House leaders announced he would not be allowed to join the House GOP caucus, a move that essentially exiled him from the legislative process.
An ethics investigation was soon launched, and Roeber was shuffled into a tiny, windowless office on the Capitol’s fourth floor.
That ethics inquiry is still ongoing, though its proceedings are not public.
When the investigation is complete, the committee has the authority to recommend punishment.
Earlier this year, the ethics committee recommended censure for a Democratic lawmaker from St. Louis for lying about an alleged sexual encounter with an intern and attempting to cover it up by threatening a House employee.
The House has the authority to expel a member with a two-thirds vote. Only one member of the Missouri House has ever been expelled, in 1865. The charge at that time was disloyalty to the Union.