Rep. Samsel hit with three counts of battery in Wellsville school fracas

GOP House member accused of strange behavior as substitute teacher

By: - May 17, 2021 5:03 pm
Wellsville Republian Rep. Mark Samsel, left, faces three misdemeanor counts of battery stemming from a classroom disturbance at Wellsville High School. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

Wellsville Republian Rep. Mark Samsel, left, faces three misdemeanor counts of battery stemming from a classroom disturbance at Wellsville High School. (Sherman Smith/Kansas Reflector)

TOPEKA — The Franklin County attorney compounded legal challenges Monday for a Republican state legislator entangled in a classroom disturbance at Wellsville High School.

County attorney Brandon Jones filed a criminal complaint against state Rep. Mark Samsel, of Wellsville, charging him with three counts of misdemeanor battery with two students approximately 15 years of age. The students are identified in the complaint by their initials and birth year.

Samsel, 36, was allegedly involved in a bizarre series of events April 28 while serving as a substitute teacher at the high school. Students documented his bombastic speeches about God’s fury, the Bible, masturbation, procreation, suicide and other subjects and those recordings eventually made it onto social media platforms.

He also was accused of kicking a male student in the groin and granting other students permission to do likewise.

Samsel, who is an attorney, is scheduled to appear at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in Franklin County District Court in front of Magistrate Judge Kevin Kimball.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman, an Olathe Republican, said he was concerned about the filing of charges against Samsel. He said the safety of school children was one of his highest priorities.

“The judicial process must now be allowed to work to determine what happened here and, if necessary, what penalties should be assessed,” Ryckman said.

In legal terms, Samsel was accused of “unlawfully and knowingly or recklessly cause bodily harm to another person” or “knowingly cause physical contact with another person” in a “rude, insulting or angry manner.”

Misdemeanor battery in Kansas carries a penalty of up to six months in the county jail as well as a maximum fine of $1,000.

The county attorney’s complaint lists more than three dozen possible witnesses, including students and law enforcement officers.

“As with all criminal defendants, Samsel is presumed innocent until otherwise proven guilty and convicted in a court of law,” the prosecutor said in a statement. “The Franklin County attorney’s office has no other comment on this case at this time.”

Samsel posted statements on social media declaring his classroom commentary was part of a staged drama and that no student was in danger. He said some people didn’t understand his remarks, but was confident “God has me exactly where He needs me.”

In aftermath of the incident, Samsel has been banned from Wellsville school property and school events for one year and convinced to resign from the board of trustees at Missouri Valley College.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.