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The case against Missouri Rep. Rick Roeber is clear. The House should expel him this week.
The evidence against the disgraced representative was outlined Monday in a 12-page report prepared and endorsed by the House Ethics Committee, a 10-member group equally divided between Republicans and Democrats.
The report confirms and expands on The Star’s reporting last year, when three of Roeber’s adult children and a former spouse courageously told their stories.
The committee found, based on “clear and convincing testimony and other evidence,” that Roeber had sexually assaulted two of his children — one when the child was 9, and the other at age 5. Both assaults happened in 1990.
The report further found Roeber “physically and mentally” abused his children. It unanimously recommended expulsion, and suggested that further criminal investigation is possible.
Last year, The Star reported on the allegations against Roeber, who at the time was a candidate in the 34th House District, including parts of Lee’s Summit. He won that race anyway.
One of his adult children, Anastasia, claimed he sexually abused her when she was 9. A second person, now an adult, later claimed sexual abuse by Roeber.
That claim was investigated by local authorities, who found probable cause to believe abuse had taken place. Later, without public explanation, a state board overturned that finding.
We did not use the name of the second child because we were unable to interview that person.
A third adult child, Samson, told us he had been physically abused by Roeber. Another sibling, Gabrielle, said she was aware of the abuse when it took place.
As he has in the past, Roeber denied any wrongdoing in statements to the committee. He said the story was a “political hit,” according to the committee’s report. He was “combative, defensive, defiant, and at times angry” when testifying, the report says.
No matter. The committee concluded his statements were “not credible” in any material way. It voted unanimously to recommend that Roeber be expelled, an extraordinary sanction last used in the Missouri House in 1865.
It also recommended that Roeber be required to reimburse the costs of investigating the matter, $1,574.09.
The full House may take up expulsion on Wednesday. There is little choice but to remove Roeber from his seat.
The Ethics Committee should be commended for its thorough, bipartisan work. It is not easy to discipline a colleague, but it is possible. (Note to Kansas lawmakers: There are two members within your ranks, Democratic state Rep. Aaron Coleman and Republican state Sen. Gene Suellentrop, who need similar bipartisan scrutiny.)
We suggest members of the Missouri House, and all Missourians, carefully study the committee’s other conclusions, which were made public Monday.
“The State of Missouri has failed these children for over 20 years,” the report says. “Although this Committee cannot change the past, this Committee can provide a clear record of (Roeber’s) abusive conduct.”
We don’t yet know if the Ethics Committee report will provide any comfort to Roeber’s children and his ex-spouse, who have suffered immensely for his behavior, which he still refuses to recognize. We hope these findings help.
For almost three decades they told the truth. Finally, someone listened.