A Republican state lawmaker in Kansas was arrested and charged with misdemeanor battery charges for kneeing the groin of a teenaged boy who was in a class he was teaching. According to a report in the Kansas City Star, Republican Representative Mark Samsel, 35, was caught on a series of videos recorded by students engaging in a series of unsettling, sometimes homophobic rants that touched on everything from masturbation and testicular assault to teen death by suicide and the wrath of God. The videos came to the attention of police and district officials after they were posted to various social media by students. Samsel had worked as a substitute teacher for the Wellsville School District, but was terminated not long after the videos surfaced.
“You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God,” Samsel said in one video. “Do you believe me when I tell you that God has been speaking to me? Do you? I could put the wrath of God on you right now because that’s what He tells me to do.”
In another, he can be heard discussing the attempted death by suicide by one student, blaming the youth’s two female “foster care parents who are gay” and saying the boy’s only other choice was living without parents at all.
“What’s my point?” Samsel was captured saying. “My point is the kid has tried to kill himself three times and he’s one of the best kids on the planet. How do you think I’m going to feel if he commits suicide?”
Parents, district officials, and fellow lawmakers were outraged by Samsel’s bizarre behavior and rants.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas tweeted Samsel “shouldn’t just be terminated from substituting” but prevented from having contact with children altogether.
“What the hell is going on with the #KSLeg this session?” he tweeted last week in response to news of Samsel’s arrest.
“I’m a concerned parent who doesn’t want this swept under the rug,” Joshua Zeck, a father of one of the students, told The Star. “He’s around kids all the time. He’s a state representative. He’s in a position of power.”
“Student safety has always and will be our first priority,” Ryan Bradbury, superintendent of the Wellsville School District, said in a statement, but he declined to provide further comment due to their interpretation of what is permitted under current privacy laws.
Samsel was charged for the alleged kneeing of a boy in the crotch, which caused the boy to fall to the floor. The action was captured on one of the videos
“Go to the nurse,” Samsel lightheartedly told the student. “She can check it for you.”
He later asked another student if they would like to “check his nuts” as well. In another video he asked a student if he has masturbated, gave the class permission to kick a boy “in the balls,” and then explained the joys of making babies.
The videos posted by students paint a disturbing and inexplicable performance by Samsel. The atmosphere in the classrooms appeared strangely jovial, with students often laughing at the teacher’s offensive statements, one-liners, and illegal actions.
Samsel later proclaimed his innocence, and shared a Snapchat post with The Star which he said showed the entire event was planned.
“Every little bit of it,” the post read. “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.”
Regardless of explanation, this is not the first time Samsel has courted controversy. Earlier this year Samsel voted against a bill that sought to remove protections for spouses accused of some forms of domestic abuse.
“To me, it gets to what does the sanctity of marriage mean?” Samsel said during debate on the issue. “And I’m single, so I’m not the best person to speak to this. But when you do get married, what does that mean? And what implied consent are you giving?”
He later expressed “concern” about “triggering ethical obligations for what would seemingly be a routine act between man and woman.”
The bill passed the Kansas House by a vote of 110-13 over Samsel’s objections.
He also voted against the Kansas anti-trans bill, SB55, not because it banned trans girls from participating in scholastic sports according to their true gender, but because he was concerned about the public and financial blowback. The bill was eventually vetoed by Governor Laura Kelly.
In addition to being fired from further teaching duties at the district, Samsel was also asked to resign his position on the Missouri Valley College of Trustees. The lawmaker and former substitute school teacher was released on $1,000 bond after his arrest.