Parents in Topeka, Kansas have expressed outrage following an altercation between a state representative and a high school student. Video recorded by students appears to suggest that, in the midst of a religious tirade, the Kansas lawmaker took his knee to a student’s groin. Now calls have emerged to bar him from interacting with children — but he maintains that he did nothing wrong.
State representative Mark Samsel was reportedly substitute teaching at a high school in the Wellsville community on the day of the incident. Students who had him reported that throughout the day, Samsel expounded on a number of taboo topics, including religion, sexuality, and suicide.
In one student video posted below, Samsel told students about an unidentified child who allegedly attempted suicide over having lesbian foster parents.
“He’s a foster kid,” Samsel said. “His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who were gay. How do you think I’m going to feel if he commits suicide? Awful.”
He also encouraged students to “make babies” while asking if they had ever masturbated before.
“Who likes making babies? That feels good, doesn’t it? Procreate,” he said in one video.
For local parents, however, his most egregious act came during a confrontation with a male student. Footage appears to show Samsel pursuing the student around the classroom while threatening violence.
“You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God,” Samsel told the boy. “Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me? I could put the wrath of God on you right now because that’s what he’s telling me to do.”
The representative went on to tell other students that they had permission to kick the boy “in the balls.”
Another video shows the student on the ground, allegedly after being kneed in the groin by Samsel.
“You wanna go to the nurse? She can check it for you,” he tells the student, before asking another student to “check [the boy’s] nuts for him.”
The student reportedly told a sheriff’s deputy about the incident, leading to a police investigation. Authorities arrested Samsel on April 29, citing three counts of misdemeanor battery. He stands accused of having contact with two students “in a rude, insulting or angry manner” in addition to causing bodily harm, reported ABC News.
After posting bail and securing his release, Samsel continued to maintain his innocence, claiming the incident was staged by himself and the students. In a post to Snapchat, the Republican representative said the altercation was “all planned.”
“Every little bit of it. That’s right,” Samsel said. “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.”
Samsel also took his claims to a local news outlet, as shown below.
Samsel has since been removed as a substitute teacher for the Wellsville school district, and has been ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation.
Meanwhile, parents and officials have condemned Samsel, calling for him to be barred from interacting with children.
“I’m a concerned parent who doesn’t want this swept under the rug,” said local father Joshua Zeck.
“He’s a leader, he’s in the statehouse, he’s somebody in a position of power and he did not do right by those kids,” Zeck continued. “A lot of kids were affected by that.”
Local mom Jessica Roberts pointed out that Samsel interacts with kids in the community often as a sports referee and in other activities.
“I think he shouldn’t be around children,” Roberts said.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas also addressed the incident on Twitter, where he said Samsel “shouldn’t just be terminated from substituting. He should be blocked from being around all kids.”
Samsel will next appear in court on July 12.
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