Samsel pleads guilty to reduced charges

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Republican state Rep. Mark Samsel on Monday pleaded guilty to reduced charges of misdemeanor disorderly conduct arising from an outburst that occurred when he was working as a substitute teacher in Wellsville.

Judge Kevin Kimball accepted a deal in which Samsel pleaded guilty to three counts of disorderly conduct and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 30 days consecutively for each count. The jail sentence was suspended to one year of supervised probation.

He also agreed to write apology letters to the victims. The letters must be approved by a court services officer before they are sent to the victims’ families. He is barred from having contact with the victims or their families.

Samsel also must continue to comply with all mental health treatment recommendations and take all prescribed medications. He could be ordered to undergo another mental health evaluation if more issues arise in the future.

He also is prohibited from using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for personal use. He is allowed to use social media platforms for carrying out his business as a state legislator and for campaigning, however.

“I just want to say I’m sorry for what happened. I never intended to hurt anybody,” Samsel said during an approximately 10-minute hearing held on Zoom Monday morning.

None of the victims or their families testified at Monday’s hearing.

Samsel alo must pay $263 in legal fees, including $158 for court costs, $50 for a probation fee and $45 in fingerprinting costs.

Samsel originally faced three counts of misdemeanor battery in connection with the incident in which the legislator was accused of kicking a student in the crotch during a racous arts class at Wellsville High School.

Each charge of misdemeanor battery carried a penalty of up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. The reduced disorderly conduct charged carried a maximum penalty of 30 days in jail and a fine up to $500.

House Speaker Ron Ryckman Jr. said the plea deal was a postive step for Samsel.

“I’m glad to see Rep. Samsel taking responsibility for his actions and getting the help he needs,” Ryckman said in a statement.

House Minority Leader Tom Sawyer expressed his condolences to the student victims of Samsel’s classroom behavior.

“I hope Rep. Samsel continues to receive appropriate mental health care moving forward,” Sawyer said.

Samsel, a lawyer, was arrested April 29 for the incident in which he talked to his arts class about suicide, pregnancy, masturbation, the Bible and God with the students as well as the politics of the Senate president.

A judge had ordered Samsel to undergo a mental health evaluation at the Elizabeth Layton Center, which provides behavioral health services in Franklin and Miami counties.

Samsel has said he had “multiple visits” with mental health professionals within the last three months and they concluded that the day’s events resulted from an isolated episode of “mania with psychotic features.”

Samsel said the classroom incident was the result of “extreme stress, pressure, and agitation over a sustained period of time, the worst of which is April and May in the Kansas Legislature.

“There is no likelihood that it will happen again, especially as I have continued to study ways to handle stress,” Samsel wrote in a Facebook post.

Samsel said he hoped his posting would serve a larger purpose by helping others.

“I also hope this helps bring awareness and understanding, especially for those who have never been touched by a mental health battle,” Samsel wrote.

“Once you have, it brings a whole new perspective. Please continue to pray for all our leaders in this modern era.

Samsel has already voluntarily given up his substitute teaching license, saying he hoped it would bring “peace and healing for all.”