State Lawmaker Accused of Kicking Teenager Says 'Extreme' Stress Prompted Action

A Kansas lawmaker accused of kicking a high school student said Wednesday that "extreme" stress prompted the action.

Republican State Representative Mark Samsel said in a Facebook post that he was studying ways to handle stress so that "there is no likelihood" of a similar incident occurring. Samsel also said he has been seeing mental health professionals over the past three months due to the "isolated episode of mania with psychotic features" in the classroom.

According to an affidavit from a sheriff's deputy, one student told the deputy that Samsel had manhandled him and kicked him in the testicles during class while the politician was working as a substitute teacher.

Samsel surrendered his state substitute teacher's license on Tuesday.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Teenagers entering high school
Representative Mark Samsel is accused of manhandling and kicking a teenager in the testicles during a class period. Teenagers are seen here on a school campus in this undated photo. Getty Images

He faces three misdemeanor criminal charges of battery following what the local prosecutor described as "rude, insulting or angry" interactions with two students, ages 15 or 16, during an April 28 art class at the high school in his hometown of Wellsville, about 45 miles (72 kilometers) southwest of Kansas City.

Samsel, a 36-year-old attorney who has served in the House since 2019, has pleaded not guilty to the charges, each of which is punishable by up to six months in jail. He has a court hearing scheduled for Aug. 16 and said during a brief interview that he does not know how the surrender of his teaching license or his mental health treatment will affect the case.

"It just felt it was the right to share, that God was calling on me to do it," Samsel said during the interview. "I just hope this brings hopes this brings light to the mental health battles, that a lot of us are struggling."

Samsel's attorney, Christopher Scott, did not immediately return a telephone message Wednesday seeking comment. County Attorney Brandon Jones, the local prosecutor, is out of the office until next week, his office said, and he did not immediately return a telephone message.

Videos shot by students on April 28 and provided by a parent showed Samsel talking about suicide, God and sex in a noisy classroom. According to the deputy's affidavit, Samsel said he only "demonstrated a kick" for one boy who had disrupted class but did not kick him. The deputy also wrote that Samsel said God told him to do what he did.

Samsel said Wednesday that he was trying to make a point about mental health issues and the need for people to be kinder to one another.

A judge in May ordered Samsel to undergo a mental health evaluation, and the resulting report remains under seal. Samsel said in his Facebook post that he suffered from "extreme stress, pressure, and agitation over a sustained period of time," with the worst of it during April and May, when lawmakers were wrapping up their business for the year.

"There was a lot of pain and struggle involved, but I think—I mean, it's all moving in the right direction," Samsel said during his interview. "I do think God's using it for hopefully higher purposes."

Person walks past Capitol Building
Kansas state Representative Mark Samsel said he suffered from “extreme stress, pressure, and agitation over a sustained period of time,” which caused him to act violently in a classroom against a student. A person is seen here walking in front of the Kansas state Capitol in this undated photo. Getty Images/Zach Gibson