Monday, March 22, 2010

Roman L. LeBlanc, married Missouri rep, had sex with a teen he'd mentored

Posted By on Mon, Mar 22, 2010 at 3:10 PM

click to enlarge A college student claims Roman LeBlanc sexually assaulted her.
  • A college student claims Roman LeBlanc sexually assaulted her.

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

testimony.

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

call.

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

scared



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


houseleblanc.jpg
This is

the house in which Roman LeBlanc allegedly sexually assaulted a young

woman.

​Outside it was dark and raining.

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:

Im here.

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

organization.)

There was nothing in LeBlanc's history to make Anna's family doubt his

intentions.

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

her.

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

lying."

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

now."

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

record.

"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

sure."

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,

one-word answers.

ericzhand.jpg
Platte

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."

​The

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

relationship.

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

interview.

In February, after three months of investigation, prosecutors invited

Bruce and Marla to their offices to discuss the decision not to press

charges.

"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

consent.

"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

students.

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

Family."


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