COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The Missouri House will investigate an incoming lawmaker accused of sexually and physically abusing his children years ago when they were young, Republican leaders announced Monday.
House leaders in a joint statement said the House Ethics Committee will launch an investigation of the claims of abuse against incoming Republican Rep. Rick Roeber when the Legislature convenes in January.
Roeber’s adult children first spoke publicly of the abuse to the Kansas City Star, which published details in September. Voters in suburban Kansas City elected Roeber in November.
After his election, Roeber’s children wrote a letter begging the House’s presumptive incoming speaker, Republican Rep. Rob Vescovo, not to allow him to serve.
“To think that this man would have a say over laws that impact thousands of children is just too much,” according to the letter signed by three of his children. “A man like this does not deserve the high honor of serving in our government. ”
Roeber, of Lee’s Summit, did not immediately respond to a Monday request for comment from The Associated Press.
Vescovo and other House leaders in a joint statement said they take the allegations against Roeber “very seriously” and are not allowing him to join the Republican caucus.
They said they’ll wait for the Ethics Committee’s recommendation before taking further action. The full House could vote to kick out Roeber.
It’s unclear how long the committee’s investigation will take. Reviews often last months.
House Democratic Minority Leader Crystal Quade said Republicans should have taken a stand against Roeber before the election. But she said banning him from the caucus is a serious step and praised House leaders for supporting an investigation.
“I’m thankful that leadership has very vocally said that they intend for the Ethics Committee to do the investigation and follow it all the way through,” she said. “So overall I view this as a positive step in listening to the victims and honoring the fact that we believe them.”
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