A Kansas lawmaker accused of kicking a teen in the testicles while substitute teaching will avoid jail time in the bizarre incident – angering relatives of at least one student who was in the class.
Republican Rep. Mark Samsel — who was caught on camera talking about suicide, sex, God and the Bible during an art class at Wellsville High School on April 28 — pleaded guilty Monday to reduced charges of disorderly conduct and was placed on probation for a year. He also received a 90-day suspended jail sentence, the Kansas City Star reported.
The lack of jail time for the former high school substitute — who must also write letters of apologies to two teen victims — incensed the aunt of another student in the classroom that day, according to the newspaper.
“I don’t think that’s enough,” Mary Woods told the Star of Samsel’s punishment. “He laid his hands on a kid … He traumatized a lot of these kids. I think it’s bullsh-t, to say so myself.”
Joshua Zeck, the father of another student who was previously taught by Samsel, said he was happy to see that the embattled lawmaker was getting mental health treatment.
“From the beginning, all I wanted was for Mark to get some help,” Zeck told the newspaper. “I don’t want to see anybody go to jail. So if this does him some good and he’s doing better, I’m happy to hear that.”
Samsel, R-Wellsville, had originally faced three misdemeanor battery charges after his arrest in April involving two victims who were 15 or 16 years old at the time.
One student told a deputy that Samsel had kicked him in the groin, while another teen accused him of manhandling her, grabbing her by the shoulders at one point, according to an affidavit.
Samsel, 36, was also ordered Monday not to go on social media for personal use, but can utilize Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms for political and legislative purposes, the Star reported.
He pleaded not guilty to battery charges in May and was ordered to undergo a mental health evaluation before accepting the plea agreement with prosecutors. Samsel had faced up to six months in jail on each count. He was also ordered to pay $263 in court fees associated with his case and arrest.
“Your honor, I just want to say I’m sorry for what happened,” the disgraced lawmaker told Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball over Zoom. “I never intended to hurt anybody.”
Samsel posted on Facebook last month that he sought mental health treatment and surrendered his substitute teaching license following the incident that garnered national media attention.
The post, which was no longer available Tuesday, claimed an “isolated episode of mania with psychotic features” prompted by “extreme stress, pressure and agitation” led to the classroom incident, the Star reported.
Samsel was banned from Wellsville School District following his arrest and also lost his seat as a trustee at Missouri Valley College, his alma mater, according to the newspaper.
Samsel told investigators he lost his temper as students misbehaved in the class, but claimed he “barely grabbed” one student whom he told to give him some space, according to an affidavit.
Samsel’s attorney, Chris Scott, said the lawmaker, who was first elected in 2018, was pleased with Monday’s outcome and plans to try to stay in office.
“He sounds very dedicated to the community and I have heard nothing about him stepping down from his position and if anything I think he looks forward to getting back to work next year,” Scott told The Star.
Samsel is “very sorry” for his classroom conduct in April, Scott said.
“If he could go back to that day, he would handle it differently,” the lawmaker’s attorney said.
Samsel will be up for re-election in 2022 if he decided to run again. No one has filed a formal bid as of Monday, the Star reported.
With Post wires