WELLSVILLE – A first appearance court hearing had yet to be scheduled today in a battery charge against Fifth District State Representative Mark Samsel, a Wellsville Republican, after an incident involving a student that took place Wednesday while Samsel was substitute teaching at Wellsville High School.
Two separate incidents were recorded by numerous students, but only one of those video scenes is believed to be connected to the battery charge.
The Wellsville school district notified parents of the incident this week after a local mother of some district students posted a query about the situation on a community school Facebook page.
A statement from the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department says Samsel, 36, was arrested the afternoon of April 29 after the incident the prior day. As of Friday Franklin County District Court records did not have a notation on Samsel’s charges or any date for upcoming hearings in the case. A court staffer said no case information had yet been filed in Samsel’s arrest.
Video shot by students in a Wellsville classroom shows Samsel wrestling with a student while the two engage in loud dialogue during what appears to be an unruly scene in the class. Samsel is shown several times with his hands on the student, at one point attempting to cradle his arm around the student’s neck when the student pulls away.
Another video, provided to the Review by another Wellsville resident, shows a female student in what is apparently a different classroom who makes an audio recording purported to be Samsel discussing “making babies” with other students and asking them about masturbation. Captions on the video say “I literally hate it here. Mark is being so gross.”
In a set of rambling Snapchat posts taken after the April 28 videos that frequently involve Christian religious references, Samsel notes his commitment to children and his concerns about teen suicide.
“If you think I look furious in the videos, you should ask our Almighty Creator how HE feels,” Samsel writes. “I can’t thank the young man enough who gave himself to make sure God’s will would be done during 5th hour. Love ya kid. And your whole family.”
“At all costs, I fear God,” Samsel continues. “ Nothing else. I will NOT rest until we END THE TEENAGE SUICIDE. I will scream that in a classroom, jail cell, mountaintop, ANYWHERE. I will go to jail. I will give up my State Representative role. I will GIVE MY OWN LIFE.”
The incident follows local media coverage in the 5th District of Samsel’s controversial vote against the Protection of Women’s Sports Act several weeks ago in the Kansas House. The Anderson County Review in Garnett covered the vote and Samsel’s split from other Republicans in voting against the measure, which passed both houses but was later vetoed by Governor Laura Kelly.
Samsel attacked the Review and publisher Dane Hicks for the paper’s initial April 13 story on the vote in a post on his campaign Facebook page. When Hicks published an editorial April 27 castigating Samsel, Kelly and other legislators and the Kansas National Education Association for opposing women athletes on the issue, Samsel responded with a lengthy diatribe comparing Hicks to the devil and advocating a financial boycott of the newspaper. That post was made the morning of Samsel’s afternoon arrest, the day following the classroom incident.
Samsel is an attorney and Wellsville native who was elected to the 5th District seat in 2018 and re-elected in 2020.