Missouri House lawmaker accused of child abuse resigns

SUMMER BALLENTINE
Associated Press

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Missouri House leaders on Tuesday said they told law enforcement officials that they're concerned a resigning lawmaker accused of sexually and physically abusing his children years ago may pose a risk to other kids. 

House Speaker Rob Vescovo and the leader of the House Ethics Committee in a joint statement said fellow Republican Rep. Rick Roeber's "heinous actions make him not only unfit for office, but should also make him the subject of a thorough investigation by law enforcement."

Roeber submitted a letter of resignation Tuesday signaling that his last day will be Friday. He did not mention the allegations against him. 

"With his resignation today, we take an important step to protect the integrity of the House as an institution, but it's far more important that we do all we can to seek justice for his children and to ensure he never again causes harm to another child," House leaders wrote. "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."

Roeber did not immediately return an Associated Press request for comment Tuesday. 

Roeber in his letter of resignation said he needs to move out of state to be closer to family and cited that as the reason for his departure from the Legislature. He said he plans to move after he marries his fiancé.

Roeber's adult children first spoke publicly of the abuse to the Kansas City Star, which published details in September 2020. 

Voters in suburban Kansas City elected Roeber in November 2020 to succeed his late wife, Republican Rep. Rebecca Roeber. She died in 2019. 

After his election, Roeber's children wrote a letter begging Vescovo to prevent him from serving.

"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. "

House Republicans banned him from their caucus, and the House Ethics Committee launched an investigation. 

Vescovo and Ethics Committee Chairman Travis Fitzwater in the joint statement said the committee found the allegations against Roeber credible.

 The committee is scheduled to release a full report on the investigation next week and "will continue to communicate with law enforcement on this matter."