SPRINGFIELD, Missouri — A Kansas City-area lawmaker accused of sexually and physically abusing his children when they were younger submitted his resignation Tuesday as an investigation into his behavior neared completion.
Rep. Rick Roeber, R-Lee’s Summit, did not mention the allegations against him or an ongoing probe by the House ethics committee in a letter to the state House clerk. Instead, he said he’s leaving because he and his fiancée are preparing to move out of state to be closer to their extended families, including his ailing mother.
Rick Roeber (Photo: Courtesy)
Roeber, who was elected to a two-year term in November, said he only ever wanted to serve a single year to pass a bill naming a highway after his late wife, Rep. Rebecca Roeber, who died in 2019, and help pass school choice bills.
He said that because both things seem to be moving along well, he’s done what he set out to do and can now leave.
In reality, neither of his priorities has received final approval in both chambers, and a bill that would honor his late wife has yet to pass the House.
Allegations against Roeber
Roeber’s announcement also came as fellow lawmakers investigating the allegations against him appeared close to publishing damaging conclusions.
For months, he has denied allegations he made sexual advances toward his adopted daughter when she was 9 years old and physically abused his son, as reported by the Kansas City Star, which interviewed his ex-wife and their three children.
After Republicans barred him from their caucus meetings in December, he said he looked to a reversal “once these allegations have been dismissed by the Ethics Committee.”
But last week, GOP leaders, including the ethics committee chair, told the Jackson County prosecutor they had “information that needs to be forwarded to the proper authorities in your jurisdiction,” according to a report in the Missouri Independent.
They also expressed concerns about the safety of a minor who regularly interacts with Roeber.
House Speaker Rob Vescovo, R-Arnold, and Ethics Committee Chair Travis Fitzwater, R-Holt’s Summit, shared similar thoughts in a statement after Roeber announced his resignation Tuesday.
Most notably, they said the ethics committee found the allegations made by his children credible. Vescovo and Fitzwater also labeled Roeber “unfit for office” and called for a “thorough investigation by law enforcement.”
“His resignation allows him to walk away from his duties as a representative, but we cannot allow him to once again walk away from the children he victimized,” they added.
House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield, also welcomed Roeber’s departure.
“With his own children accusing him of physical and sexual abuse, Rick Roeber never should have sought public office,” she said in a statement. “After forcing his children to relive their experiences, his resignation as state representative is overdue.”
Other Missouri lawmaker controversies
Roeber hasn’t been the only representative in hot water this session.
In January, the GOP-led House voted to publicly shame Rep. Wiley Price, D-St. Louis, over accusations he lied to the ethics committee as it investigated whether or not he slept with a 23-year-old intern.
Both Price and the intern denied ever having sex and Price said he had no plans to leave politics.
A month later, federal authorities unsealed a 20-count indictment of Rep. Tricia Derges, R-Nixa, accusing her of selling a fake stem cell treatment, illegally distributing prescription drugs and lying to federal agents as they investigated her.
Republican leaders called for her to resign as well, but she refused. She has since attracted new charges accusing her of defrauding Greene County out of roughly $300,000 in federal pandemic relief money. Her trial is set for August.
Austin Huguelet is the News-Leader’s politics reporter. Got something he should know? Have a question? Call him at 417-403-8096 or email him at [email protected]
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