KC man accused of molestation has worked often with children

Daniel M. Roberson, a Kansas City man charged last week with sodomy involving an 11-year-old boy, long has offered drill team instruction to area young people, both as a volunteer and paid employee.

Authorities have charged Roberson, 39, with statutory sodomy and two counts of attempted statutory sodomy for alleged acts that occurred earlier this year.

Roberson had served for several years as a volunteer instructor with the Marching Cobras, the most prominent Kansas City-area drill team. But Cobras officials sent Roberson a Nov. 15 letter dismissing him as a volunteer instructor, said Julia Moltbia, Cobras administrative assistant.

The organization dismissed Roberson not because of any concern about his behavior, Moltbia said, but because he had not been active in Cobras activities for several months.

“We had not seen him,” Moltbia said. “We sent him a letter saying that we did not need his services any longer.”

Roberson also worked as an independent contractor, leading drill teams and drum corps activities through an after-school program operated by the Local Investment Commission.

LINC records document that Roberson served in that role at Longan and Scarritt elementary schools, in the Kansas City Public Schools, from fall 2002 through December 2005.

From January 2006 through June 2007, he worked at Longan as a part-time LINC employee. From September through October 2007, he worked as a part-time LINC employee at Johnson Elementary School in the Hickman Mills School District.

No concerns about Roberson surfaced during several annual background checks LINC conducted through the Missouri Family Care Safety Registry, said Brent Schondelmeyer, LINC spokesman. The registry provides background information on potential caregivers to children, the elderly, and the physically or mentally disabled.

John Baccala, Hickman Mills School District media relations director, said no Johnson Elementary staff members had raised any concerns about Roberson.

“We had no reports about him at all,” Baccalla said. “We had no reason to be concerned and certainly if there had been any issue at all he would not have been in any of our schools.”

Roberson’s connection with LINC ended in 2007. All of his work as a LINC contractor or employee occurred at schools and not in private settings, Schondelmeyer added.

Willie Arthur Smith, the Cobras’ founder, is in Chicago for the holidays, Moltbia said. The charges against Roberson and media accounts of his association with the Cobras have been “devastating” to Smith, Moltbia said.

“He is worried sick,” she said.

“He built this organization on his blood, sweat and tears, and after 43 years of community service, we have never had any problems or anything like this.

“The little boy who came forward is not a Cobra and has never been a Cobra.”

Smith continues to recover from a stroke suffered in the spring. Days after Smith’s stoke, Roberson was among Cobras volunteers and family members who attended a small St. Patrick’s Day parade, featuring three Cobras drummers, down the hallways of Research Medical Center, where Smith was a patient

Investigators, meanwhile, are looking again into two separate incidents reported at Longan Elementary, both from October 2008.

Police records document how, in the first incident, the mother of a Longan Elementary student described how her son allegedly was struck in the neck by a man, then an employee of a Kansas City Public Schools after-school program, after the student twice told him: “If you touch me I’m going to be expelled.”

A second complaint, reported days later by the same adult, included an accusation of sexual advances upon her son in a Longan Elementary cafeteria store room. The victim subsequently said the suspect had made other advances over several years.

Police have submitted the reports to the prosecutor’s office, said Sgt. Stacey Graves of the Kansas City police. Both incidents involve one suspect, Graves said. She declined to identify the suspect, as he has not been charged in these incidents.

Roberson worked as a part-time employee for Kansas City Public Schools from December 2007 through June 2010 at Longan Elementary, according to a district statement issued Tuesday. The district conducted criminal background checks on Roberson in 2007 and 2009, in both cases learning nothing of concern.

In 2008, the parent of a Longan student filed a complaint, according to the district statement.

“The complaint was fully investigated by Kansas City Public Schools and the Missouri Department of Social Services Children’s Division,” the statement read, adding that district officials “responded appropriately based on the outcomes of the investigation.”

The statement did not detail the district’s response.

Roberson was active in several area drill team organizations, not just the Cobras, said Gregg James, a longtime Cobras volunteer. With the Cobras, James said, Roberson often volunteered with workshop instruction offered to new members.

“He worked with the girls,” James said.