In the March 24 print edition, The Pitch recounts the investigation of Kansas City, Missouri, police and the Platte County Prosecutor's Office of Missouri Rep. Roman L. LeBlanc, who was accused last fall of sexually assaulting an 18-year-old college student.
The story was published online here first. What follows after the jump uses police records and extensive interviews with the student's family, who tell The Pitch that LeBlanc promised to resign.
We'll update this story as it develops.
Updates: Watch cell phone video of LeBlanc admitting to the young woman's family that he tried to touch her and "she said no." LeBlanc later told police that he lied to the family about the sex being consensual to protect the girl.
The Boy Scouts of America have since cut ties with LeBlanc.
And on March 26, LeBlanc issued a statement saying he would not seek reelection.
These are the undisputed facts of what happened between Roman L.
LeBlanc and a college freshman on Sunday, November 15, 2009,
at a house behind Zona Rosa, based on police reports and witness
The 38-year-old LeBlanc, in his first term as a Democratic state
representative in Missouri, had known the woman we'll call Anna since
she was 15. Now she was 18 and attending a college, partly supported by
a scholarship through the Venturing program with the Boy Scouts of
America -- a program for which LeBlanc was a volunteer mentor.
Anna had spent the weekend in Kansas City for a pre-Thanksgiving meal
with her family. LeBlanc called, the day before she was to head back to
the town where she went to school, to offer a ride. He showed up at her
family's home that Sunday, right after he watched the Chiefs pull off a
rare win against the Oakland Raiders.
Anna's parents, Bruce and Marla (The
Pitch has given family members pseudonyms at their request),
wished her a good trip. "Call me when you get to your room so I know you
got back OK," Bruce told her.
Hours after Anna should have checked in, he was still waiting for that
Text messages later recovered by the police from Anna's phone show that
almost immediately after leaving the house, she became frightened by
LeBlanc's behavior and began sending text messages to a friend.
Each of the following messages was sent within 15 to 20 minutes of
saying goodbye to her family:
Save me from mr lee! He is being gross
Baby im scared. So serious. He is taking me somewhere and im really
Baby im really scared cuz he wont take me to the school Unless i do it
Take me to school right now and im yelling and cursing but its not doing
anything he is just laughing
the house in which Roman LeBlanc allegedly sexually assaulted a young woman.
Outside it was dark and raining.
the house in which Roman LeBlanc allegedly sexually assaulted a young
LeBlanc's destination was 8637 North Christian Avenue, a two-story
beige house with brown trim. He told Anna it belonged to a friend.
LeBlanc had a key for the front door.
Renovations seemed to be under way inside the house. When LeBlanc and
Anna entered, a woman's voice shouted: "Roman, are you in?" Police later
identified the woman as Deitria Rutledge, a friend of
LeBlanc's identified in police reports as a former co-worker. Anna never
saw her face. Rutledge would later claim in interviews with detectives
that she had given LeBlanc the house key and had thought he was joking
when he often said he should bring a woman there. Rutledge also claimed
to have been listening to music while working in the basement, unaware
of what was happening in her house.
LeBlanc led Anna upstairs and down a hallway to the last bedroom on the
right. Inside was a bed with a green comforter.
In that room, LeBlanc performed oral sex on her and then had vaginal
intercourse with her. He used a condom that he had taken from underneath
the mattress. When he had finished, he put the condom in a tissue,
dressed, put the tissue in his pocket, and left Anna alone in the room.
He came back with a pink washcloth and wiped off her body.
LeBlanc left the house with Anna and drove her to her dorm. Instead of
returning her father's calls, she sent another text after she arrived:
Less than 24 hours later, she told the Kansas City, Missouri, Police
Department that LeBlanc had raped her.
Anna and LeBlanc met after her mother heard the state rep give a radio
interview about college tours.
Anna's mother wanted her daughter to have one of LeBlanc's tours. "I
heard him on KPRS talking about taking students to college campuses, and
I thought that was something she should be doing," she says.
The college tour was the beginning of an almost familial relationship
among Anna, her mother and father, and Roman LeBlanc and his wife, June.
On Thursdays, the then-15-year-old girl started attending meetings at
LeBlanc's fraternity house. At Alpha Phi Alpha, students who wanted to
learn life skills, such as how to balance a budget, worked with LeBlanc
as their mentor through the Boy Scouts' Venturing program.
"Whatever programs were going on, if we didn't have the funds, he'd call
us and say, 'Don't worry about it -- we got grants for that,' " Marla
says. "Sometimes, even down to the last minute, he'd get her covered. He
played an active role in her life. Her father and me have to be so many
places, and if we had trouble working something out, he'd be the first
to say, 'Don't worry -- I can come pick her up and do it."
They became so close that during Anna's senior year in high school, they
had Thanksgiving dinner at the LeBlancs' home, near 53rd Street and
Cleveland. Before Anna graduated, LeBlanc made arrangements to get her a
limousine for prom. He got the family tickets to see Barack
Obama when he campaigned in town. In one of her senior photos,
she's pictured standing in front of LeBlanc's Corvette. As Anna prepared
her college applications, LeBlanc advised her on scholarships and wrote
her a letter of recommendation.
"We developed a very close friendship," Bruce recalls. "He even paid the
bill for her skiing once, then had people from the Boy Scouts paying
her medical bills when she got hurt. So it never set alarms off for me,
him asking to do something like drive her to school, because we had all
become so close. I broke bread with the man at my table." (In police
reports, Mark Brayer, named as the Boy Scouts' director
of support services, tells detectives that he intends to remove LeBlanc
from mentorship duty until the investigation is closed. At press time,
the local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America had not returned calls
seeking comment about LeBlanc's current relationship with the
There was nothing in LeBlanc's history to make Anna's family doubt his
LeBlanc was elected to the Missouri House of Representatives in 2008.
According to his official biography:
Rep. LeBlanc attends Concord Fortress of Hope Church and is a
member of the Boy Scouts of America and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. He
volunteers as a youth advisor for the Cleaver Family YMCA, Hogan
Preparatory Academy and the Thornberry Boys & Girls Club. Rep.
LeBlanc is an Eagle Scout and received the District Award of Merit from
the Boy Scouts of America. A 1989 graduate of Van Horn High School, Rep.
LeBlanc received a B.S. in Social Work from the University of Central
Missouri in 1998.
Police who investigated Anna's claims found that LeBlanc was named as a
mentor for at least 100 girls through the Venturing program.
The morning after LeBlanc took Anna to the house on Christian Avenue,
her father heard a voice message from a number he didn't recognize.
"It was a lady whose son plays football with one of my sons," Bruce
says. "She had a nephew at school with her [Anna]. She told me I needed
to talk to my daughter right away." Once she'd arrived at school, Anna
had broken down and told friends that LeBlanc had sexually assaulted
Marla reached Anna before her father did. "At first she wouldn't say
anything. Then she started crying."
Anna told her that LeBlanc had made passes at her in the past, but she had resisted saying anything because she didn't want her father to be upset with her.
Both Marla and Bruce spoke to their mothers. They decided to confront
LeBlanc at his house to learn exactly what happened. By the time they
arrived, the grandmothers were already there.
Marla recorded the conversation on her cell phone. At first, LeBlanc
denied that anything had happened. Then he said he had grabbed Anna's butt.
Anna's family kept pressing.
Before LeBlanc would talk further, he said he needed to speak with his
wife. After several tries, he reached June on the phone and told her
that she had to come home. They all waited in the living room. When June
arrived, LeBlanc asked to speak to her privately.
"Two minutes later, you hear them screaming and crying," Bruce says. In
the living room, they heard June -- who was pregnant -- yell, "Roman,
no!" Then, Bruce says, his family heard a hard, flat sound, like a slap
across the face, and sobbing.
A moment later, LeBlanc walked down the stairs muttering, "I'm sick of
Meanwhile, one grandmother had called Anna again, asking for an
explanation. She told Anna that LeBlanc had admitted grabbing her.
"Don't let him lie to you," Anna said on the phone. "He raped me."
Marla told LeBlanc what Anna had said. At first he didn't reply. Then he
admitted having sex with Anna but said it was consensual.
The family says LeBlanc offered a series of concessions and apologies.
"We had sex, and it's my fault," he told them. "I will do what it takes
to make this right. I will stop working with kids. I will resign. I will
type a letter to the governor right now and resign my position right
Eventually, police officers arrived. Once the girl's family was told to
leave the scene, Bruce picked up Anna and took her to St. Luke's
Northland Hospital. There, detectives interviewed her. They noted that
her hands were shaking as she spoke. In an audio recording of the
interview, she cries and her voice cracks.
Anna told police a detailed story: As soon as she and LeBlanc entered
the second-floor bedroom of the Christian Avenue home, LeBlanc left her
alone, went to the bathroom, then returned and told her how beautiful
she was. Anna said she was nervous. She asked him to take her back to
school. He told her that he had liked her for a long time, then he put
his hands up her shirt and started to grope. She screamed, "No! What are
you doing? Cut it out!" LeBlanc responded by laughing. He took off her
sweatshirt, then her T-shirt, then her bra. She tried to cover herself
while he kept laughing. She struggled with him as he tried to pull down
her pants and underwear but finally tired of fighting and gave up. He
finished taking her clothes off and started to perform oral sex, and
then the rest.
At St. Luke's, Anna was examined for signs of rape. She showed no signs
of facial trauma, wounds or lacerations. There were there no abnormal
findings around her vagina. Her clothing was taken as evidence: pink
underwear, gray bra, black shirt, gray sweatpants, a dark-purple hoodie.
Detectives asked Anna to make a phone call to LeBlanc that they could
"Why did you do this to me?" she asks in the recording. "I told you to
stop. ... Please don't blame this on me."
"I've never been in this situation before," LeBlanc responded.
Afterward, LeBlanc, flanked by two attorneys, sat for a recorded
interview with detectives. LeBlanc told police that his relationship
with Anna had suddenly changed to a more adult one in September 2009,
though he was unsure of who had instigated it. He said they'd had phone
sex on at least one occasion. According to police records, LeBlanc
responded to most of the detectives' questions by saying, "I'm not
In LeBlanc's version of events, he was driving Anna to school when he
asked if she wanted to stop and "fool around." Anna said, "I don't
care." Otherwise, his description of the November 15 events are similar
to Anna's, with the exception of LeBlanc claiming that the sex was
consensual and Anna claiming that it was rape.
Police played LeBlanc a recording of his confrontation with Anna's
family, including a section in which he is accused of -- and does not
deny -- touching the girl after she told him to stop. LeBlanc claimed
that he did not deny it because he was trying to protect Anna.
Detectives also asked him why he did not respond to Anna's accusations
of rape during the police-monitored phone call. LeBlanc said his comment
about never being in this situation before was about being accused of
rape, not about what he'd actually done.
When police searched the house on Christian Avenue, officers found a
bottle of K-Y lubricant stuffed between the mattress and the box spring
of the bed -- the spot where Anna said LeBlanc found a condom.
"Do you know why I called you Sunshine?" LeBlanc once texted Anna.
"There's apart in the movie where Eddie Murphy says,
'her sex is so good' In the movie he actually says, 'your pussy is so
good you through it up it comes down like sunshine. I imagine that's
what it will be like with you!"
The investigation involved forensic retrieval of hundreds of text
messages from LeBlanc's and Anna's phones. In the weeks before November
15, LeBlanc's texts -- and some of Anna's replies -- seem to be sexually
suggestive. Most of the exchanges seem to consist of LeBlanc making unprovoked sexual comments and Anna responding with noncommittal,
County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd declined to file charges against LeBlanc. But he believes "there is no doubt this man abused his relationship as this young woman's mentor."
County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd declined to file charges against LeBlanc.
But he believes "there is no doubt this man abused his relationship as
this young woman's mentor."
existence of these messages would prove crucial to Platte County
Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd's decision not to try
the case. It was unclear whether the messages -- even if the exchanges
were mostly started by LeBlanc -- indicated a prior consensual
For example, there was this conversation:
Anna to LeBlanc: "I don't wanna seem like a homewrecker"
LeBlanc to Anna: "No your not"
Anna to LeBlanc: "But even though its between (us) doesn't mean that I
cant interfere with what you have with June"
LeBlanc to Anna: "Trust me you are not"
Anna to LeBlanc: "I don't wanna"
LeBlanc also requested that she send him cell-phone pictures of her
breasts. A police review of Anna's phone recovered no nude photos.
The prosecutor's office also was concerned about a linguist's opinion
regarding Anna's interviews with police. Reading the transcripts, the
linguist concluded that Anna was not telling the entire truth about the
incident, but it was uncertain whether such a review would be admissible
in court. The linguist did not review a transcript of LeBlanc's
In February, after three months of investigation, prosecutors invited
Bruce and Marla to their offices to discuss the decision not to press
"We got there, and they sat us down and told us they were sorry but they
didn't think they could prosecute," Marla says. "I was stunned. We both
were. It was hard to take."
Bruce and Marla still believe that LeBlanc forced himself on their
daughter. They don't like the text messages, but Anna said she hadn't
told them about it or tried to stop them because she was afraid of what
would happen if she did and how her family would react.
"We carefully reviewed the entire investigation involving Mr. LeBlanc
and ultimately determined there was insufficient evidence to prove him
guilty of a crime," Zahnd tells The Pitch. "The young woman he
had sex with was 18 years old. Under the law, he could have consensual
sex with her. We did not have enough physical evidence to prove beyond a
reasonable doubt that he used physical force or had sex without her
"My job is to determine the sole issue of whether there is enough
evidence to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was
committed," Zahnd adds.
"That said, in my personal opinion, there is no doubt this man abused
his relationship as this young woman's mentor."
Confronted by a Pitch
reporter at his home on March 22 about this story, LeBlanc said,
"I have no comment on that."
Following Zahnd's decision, Anna resumed her life as a college student.
Her family, still stunned that LeBlanc came out of the incident
seemingly unscathed, has watched as LeBlanc continued in his position
after promising them he would resign from public life and from mentoring
Last week, LeBlanc sent a mailer to the residents of his district,
reminding them to complete their Census forms and to come out for a
"Roman's Roundtable" discussion on what's been happening in the Missouri
House. Next to LeBlanc's message is a picture of him and his wife
holding their baby and smiling over the words "Counting Every