“Class, you have permission to kick him in the balls,” Samsel says at one point on video, according to the newspaper.
Samsel, 36, was arrested Thursday on charges of misdemeanor battery after school officials in Wellsville, Kan., reported an unspecified “incident” between him and a student, the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office said. As videos — some of which The Washington Post obtained — circulated and made the news, parents and community members expressed alarm and outrage that Samsel was working with young people and representing them in the state House.
“What the hell is going on with the #KSLeg this session?” tweeted Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Quinton Lucas (D). “He shouldn’t just be terminated from substituting. He should be blocked from being around all kids.”
Heather Davis, whose son attends elementary school in Wellsville, said she’s “terrified to ask” her child if he has had contact with Samsel, though parents say Wednesday’s incident involved high school students in art class.
“I don’t find it acceptable at all,” she said of the behavior she saw on video.
Samsel insisted in a local TV interview that there was “no altercation,” even if one or two students may have “perceived it as one.” The lawmaker, who has represented the 5th State House District since 2019, suggested to KSNT the whole thing was “planned.”
“Nobody was ever in danger,” he told the station. “Did we make it look like we were in anger, or outrageous or hurting kids? Yeah, we did.”
Responding to The Post via text message, Samsel said it is “disgusting, and false to suggest that I would EVER do anything to hurt or make a kid uncomfortable.” He dismissed the Star’s reporting as “intentionally one-sided” and “99% hogwash” but did not elaborate on what he disputed.
Samsel grew up in Wellsville and is a lawyer, according to his website. He told The Post he was a “helper” around the school district, including its elementary school, and referees sports along with being a substitute teacher.
His website lists legislative priorities ranging from “our conservative Kansas values” to lower taxes to mental-health-related insurance coverage. Samsel’s recent sponsored bills listed online include one to increase the criminal penalties for stalking a minor and one creating a Kansas youth advisory council. Earlier this year, he was one of a small group to vote against a bill to end Kansas’s exclusion of spouses from sexual battery laws.
“I dread going to work at the [Kansas Capitol] every single day,” he told The Post on Saturday.
Samsel was quickly released on $1,000 bond after his arrest last week, officials said. He has not yet been formally charged but is set to appear in district court later this month, according to Franklin County Attorney Brandon Jones. Jones said Saturday evening that the sheriff’s office is still following up on leads and that his office has not yet received a report from law enforcement.
Staff members with the Wellsville Police Department said they could not immediately share an incident report, and the county sheriff did not respond Saturday to inquiries about the details.
Wellsville Unified School District Superintendent Ryan Bradbury did not identify Samsel but said a student reported “an incident involving a substitute teacher to our staff” on Wednesday. Bradbury said an “investigation began immediately” and the teacher “will not be returning.”
Citing privacy laws and an ongoing investigation, Bradbury told The Post he could not comment further or say whether concerns were raised previously about the teacher. He said he could not access details on Samsel’s history as a substitute teacher in Wellsville until Monday.
“Student safety remains the highest priority in our district,” he said.
The Post obtained several short videos from families in the Wellsville district allegedly showing Samsel’s behavior in the classroom.
“Make babies! Who likes makin’ babies?” a male voice asks enthusiastically in one brief clip as a girl films her reaction. The video, which appears to have been posted to Snapchat, is captioned, “i literally hate it here” and “mark is being so gross.” The speakers are off-camera.
“You haven’t masturbated?” the male voice asks, and the girl’s eyes widen. “Don’t answer that question,” he quickly adds.
“I’m not going to answer that question … ” someone answers.
“Thank you,” the man responds. “I told you not to. … God already knows it.”
The Star reported Samsel seemed to fixate on one male student in footage from Wednesday, following and grabbing him on video and telling him, “You’re about ready to anger me and get the wrath of God.” He pushes the student, who runs away, according to the Star.
“You should run and scream,” Samsel allegedly says, adding amid some laughter that the Devil is leaving his classroom.
A video shared with The Post shows a man pushing another person toward the wall in a room strewn with backpacks, speaking about the “wrath of God.” The person runs away yelling.
Other video obtained by the Star reportedly captures Samsel telling students about a sophomore who tried to kill himself because he has two female parents.
“He’s a foster kid,” Samsel said, according to the newspaper. “His alternatives in life were having no parents or foster care parents who are gay. How do you think I’m going to feel if he commits suicide? Awful.”
Samsel repeatedly mentions suicide as well as religion in class, according to the Star, which posted some of the audio. He asks a student about “listening to the devil’s music,” the Star reported, and urges people to “speak the Lord’s name proudly.”
The lawmaker can also be seen telling students to go outside and run while holding hands, the newspaper said.
“Do you think we want to do this?” Samsel reportedly said. “No, we had a lesson to do. Is it kind of funny? Yeah.”
Kansas House Republican leaders, including Speaker Ron Ryckman (R), did not respond Saturday to requests for comment. GOP leaders in the House said they are “gathering as much information as [they] can,” the Associated Press reported.