TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A Kansas House member has been arrested on possible misdemeanor charges in what authorities said Friday was an incident involving a student while teaching as a substitute at a public school in his hometown.
Republican Mark Samsel was jailed Thursday in the local county jail and released on $ 1,000 bail. His arrest came after a student reported an incident Wednesday at the school in his hometown of Wellsville, a town of about 1,700 people 89 miles southwest of Kansas City.
Samsel, 36, has yet to be formally charged with a felony, but his first court appearance is scheduled for May 19 in Franklin County, County District Attorney Brandon Jones said. Kansas law says that the battery causes bodily harm to another person or physical contact with someone else “done in a rude, insulting or angry manner,” and is punished with six months in prison.
Franklin County Sheriff Jeffrey Richards declined to discuss details of the incident behind Samsel’s arrest. Samsel did not respond to a phone call – a message could not be left for him and he did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.
A parent of students in Wellsville provided The Associated Press with videos that she said were shot by students. One shows a noisy classroom, with Samsel grabbing a boy, pushing him against a wall and saying, “I could put God’s wrath on you now,” before the boy breaks free and runs away screaming.
Mother Jessica Roberts, mother of four, said her son showed her the videos in a social media group chat and posted on social media about Samsel, asking if the others were concerned about his behavior.
Roberts said in an interview that Samsel was in a position of authority and, “at no point is it appropriate to be outside the wall with children.”
The Kansas City Star reported seeing videos recorded by college students showing Samsel talking about suicide, sex, masturbation, God and the Bible.
Roberts also shared a Snapchat post from Samsel saying the incident was’ all planned out ‘, claiming he wanted to’ SEND A MESSAGE on art, mental health, teen suicide, how we treat our children. educators and each other. ”
“To whom? Parents,” he posted. “Very simple – EXACTLY what God intended. The kids were involved.
Richards said he was unaware of the Snapchat post and added, “There was nothing staged in our investigation – I can tell you that.”
Samsel also served as a referee for the association that oversees Kansas college and high school sports. He was first elected to the House in 2018 and re-elected last year.
Wellsville school superintendent Ryan Bradbury said without naming Samsel that the substitute teacher involved in Wednesday’s incident was no longer working for the district.
The three main leaders of the Kansas House Republican Majority have said they are “gathering as much information as possible.”
Samsel is the third Kansas lawmaker to face legal issues this year.
Republican colleagues ousted Sen. Gene Suellentrop of Wichita as Senate Majority Leader earlier this month after being charged with impaired driving and felony attempting to evade the forces of the order for driving in the wrong direction on a highway in Topeka.
And Democratic state representative Aaron Coleman of Kansas City was warned by a House committee in writing of the abusive behavior towards girls and young women ahead of his election last year. He struck a legal deal in January with the woman who managed his main opponent’s campaign to end a court order against criminal harassment against him.
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