Missouri House votes to expel Rick Roeber after abuse claims

Politics

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. – The Missouri House expels a member for the first time in more than 150 years.

Kansas City-area Rep. Rick Roeber is officially no longer a member of the House, and he could face felony charges after the House Ethics Committee found accusations of sexual and physical abuse from his ex-wife and children credible.

The House unanimously voted Wednesday to expel the Republican after the chamber rejected his resignation last week.

“It is unacceptable what he has done to the home life of these children,” Speaker of the House Rob Vescovo (R-Arnold) said. “I find him in the worst capacity to represent the people and more specifically represent the children of the 24th district or the children of the state of Missouri.”

After Roeber narrowly won the election in November, three of his children wrote the House Speaker, saying he was unfit to serve.

The Ethics Committee spent months investigating his children’s allegations of sexual, mental, and physical abuse.

One of his children told the committee, “I was sexually abused by him. I was physically abused by him. I was groomed by him from a very young age….He treated me more like a [companion]… when we would ride in the car, he’d have his hand on my upper thigh just kind of rubbing it.”

According to the 12-page report released Monday by the committee, one child was sexually abused at 5 years old and another at age 9.

“The representative we are moving to expel has spent the vast majority of his life avoiding accountability for his part in creating this chaos in his own family,” Ethics Committee Chair Rep. Travis Fitzwater (R-Holts Summit) said. “The abuses this family endured are to this day devastating.”

Roeber’s seat was empty during the vote and his nameplate was removed from the door of his office. Fitzwater said Roeber previously denied the allegations.

“Instead of answering, being responsible for what he did 30 years ago, instead of taking any responsibility at all, even saying I’m sorry for what I did to my family,” Fitzwater said. “He’s pointed out members of our committee saying, ‘you brought this upon me because you’re a Democrat.'”

A third child described “beatings” to the committee, saying Roeber would hold them against the wall by their necks until they could not breathe.

Several of his children and Roeber’s ex-wife said he drowned a litter of puppies in a nearby pond.

“This wasn’t a case about did you cheat on your spouse, we weren’t investigating if you smoked some week, this was child molestation and physical abuse,” Ranking minority member on the Ethics Committee Rep. Richard Brown (D-Kansas City) said. “The report is disturbing, but I know in my heart that the committee has reached the correct decision.”

Roeber sent a letter to the Speaker of the House last week saying he was resigning to move out of state, closer to extended family. Representatives voted to reject his resignation, as the committee finish its report.

He also did not acknowledge the claims as being part of his attempted resignation.

“The testimony of these children, what we witnessed was broken children,” Rep. Robert Sauls (D-Independence) said. “Broken children whose raw emotion was buried under years of neglect.”

The report said authorities were ultimately informed but no charges were ever filed.

“The prosecutor failed these children, the stories we got from these children in 2021 corroborates with the stories that the investigators got from these children over 20 years ago,” Vescovo said.

Roeber must also pay back $1,574 for investigation costs.

After the vote, House Leadership and Fitzwater released a statement:

“With his resignation letter, Rick Roeber refused to acknowledge the irreparable harm he caused to his children and displayed no remorse for his despicable actions. Our Ethics Committee, the members of our leadership team, and the House as a whole were appalled by his lack of contrition, and disgusted by his continued efforts to avoid responsibility for his actions.

Today we voted overwhelmingly to expel him from this body because the offenses he committed make him unfit to serve. We cannot undo the inexcusable harm he did to his family, and we cannot change the fact his children have been failed by the State of Missouri for decades, but we can make sure their voices are heard and that this body sends a strong message in support of all victims of abuse.

Our hope is that law enforcement will continue the work we started by thoroughly investigating Rick Roeber and the serious allegations against him.”

The last time a member was expelled was 1865 because that representative was disloyal to the Union.

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