State Watch

Kansas Republican charged with battery allegedly kicked high school student in the crotch

Kansas House of Representatives

A Kansas state representative charged with battery allegedly kicked a male high school student in the crotch and left him with other injuries while substitute teaching last month.

State Rep. Mark Samsel (R) was arrested late last month on three charges of alleged misdemeanor battery after the altercation at Wellsville High School. He has since pleaded not guilty.

GOP leaders in the state legislature, which is scheduled to have its last day in session on Wednesday, have expressed concern over the charges against Samsel.

“We are not yet aware of the details, but are in process of gathering as much information as we can,” House Republican leadership said in a joint statement. 

Newly released court documents obtained by The Kansas City Star provide new information about the allegations against the lawmaker.

Videos taken by students from the class that show Samsel talking to the students about God, the Bible, masturbation and suicide before the alleged physical altercation.

The video also shows some of the physical contact between Samsel and the student who was allegedly kicked, though it does not show the kicking. 

“You’re about to anger me and get the wrath of God. Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me?” Samsel says at one point in the video.

At that point, the video shows Samsel grabbing the teenager, whose name is left out of the court documents, with both hands and shoving him up against wall.

The student then said Samsel threatened to “kick him in the balls” and did so about 10 minutes later.

“He was confused, in pain and had to catch his breath before returning to his seat,” police said of the student.

Police noted the student’s injuries included a “road rash” type mark on his shoulder, as well as another scratch.

Samsel told investigators with the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office that the group of misbehaving students had him at his “wit’s end” so he started to lose his temper.

He said he “barely grabbed” one student, telling police that he heard the student had a bruise. He has denied kicking a student.

“I did not kick the young man, I did not strike him. I just did it enough to … and I don’t even know if I made contact with you to be honest,” Samsel said.

Samsel told police that he “barely grabbed him, firmly, but enough, right by the shoulders.” 

The high schoolers also recorded Samsel making a series of bizarre remarks, including telling the students to “make babies.”

“Who likes making babies? That feels good, doesn’t it? Procreate. … You haven’t masturbated? Don’t answer that question. … God already knows,” he is heard saying in footage captured in class.

At one point, the substitute instructed a student to go to the office.

“You were not following — not my rules — God’s rules right now,” he is heard telling the student. “You better take a Bible. … Keep denying God, keep denying God, see how it’s going to turn out.”

The Star noted that Samsel also referenced suicide multiple times. He told the group about “a sophomore who’s tried killing himself three times,” adding that it was because “he has two parents and they’re both females.”

“He’s a foster kid. His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay,” Samsel tells students. “How do you think I’m going to feel if he commits suicide? Awful.”

Other students reportedly felt uncomfortable in class with Samsel.

One female student said the teacher got in her face, grabbed her by the shoulders and asked her if she was suicidal or had “mental problems.”

She was not injured but told investigators that “she thought Mark was going to hurt her,” according to documents obtained by the Star.

Parents quickly condemned Samsel and accused him of acting like a “bully.”

“I’m a concerned parent who doesn’t want this swept under the rug,” said Joshua Zeck. “He’s around kids all the time. He’s a state representative. He’s in a position of power.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas (D) wrote on Twitter that Samsel “shouldn’t just be terminated from substituting. He should be blocked from being around all kids.”

Wellsville Central School District Superintendent Ryan Bradbury said that Samsel will no longer be allowed to work for the district.

“Student safety has and always will be our first priority,” he said.

Samsel reportedly claimed online that the incident was “all planned.”

“Every little bit of it. That’s right. The kids and I planned ALL this to SEND A MESSAGE about art, mental health, teenage suicide, how we treat our educators and one another. To who? Parents. And grandparents. And all of Wellsville,” he posted on Snapchat.  “I went to jail for battery. Does that really make me a criminal? Time will tell.”

Samsel repeated his claim that the incident was staged during an interview with KSNT News.

“Nobody was ever in danger,” he said. “Did we make it look like … we were hurting kids? Yeah we did.”

Tags battery Kansas Kansas lawmaker Mark Samsel substitute teaching

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