Questions Raised Over Lawmaker's Assault Report

Rep. Joe Edwards, R-Haysville

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Questions are being raised about a state lawmaker's report he was assaulted and robbed at a Topeka hotel.

Rep. George "Joe" Edwards of Haysville says it happened Tuesday night as he returned to his room at the Ramada Hotel in downtown Topeka, where he stays during the legislative session.

According to an incident report from the Ramada, the 58-year-old told a security officer that, between 7:30 and 8 pm Tuesday night, as he entered an exterior door into his hotel room, he was hit from behind as he put his key in the door. According to the Ramada's report, Edwards said he was pushed inside and made to lie on the floor. He told the security officer he waited until he heard the door slam, then called the front desk.

The Ramada's report shows Edwards called the desk after 1:30 am Wednesday. The report states he told the security officer nothing was stolen and that he did not want the publicity of a police report or medical attention.

"I am a legislator and didn't need that kind of publicity," the report quotes him as saying.

But later Wednesday, Edwards contacted Capitol Police and the Ramada called Topeka Police. According to TPD's report, Edwards said it happened sometime after 9 pm Tuesday and the blow to the head knocked him unconscious until 1 am. Edwards told the TPD officer $260 cash was missing from his wallet. He also said the Ramada discouraged him from contacting police.

Edwards went to the hospital for treatment Wednesday afternoon and was diagnosed with a concussion.

Police say the Ramada is cooperating with the investigation. They've turned over key card records and surveillance video.

The Ramada says those items show Edwards entered the room at 6:57pm Tuesday, that he was alone and neither he nor anyone else entered until 1:52 am, when their security guard arrived.

Brett Oetting, director of operations for Parrish Hotels, which owns the Ramada, says the organization takes the safety of all its guests seriously. He says they have on-site security, surveillance cameras and all doors have tracking for when key cards are used to enter, among other measures. He says he's confident the Ramada is the safest hotel in Topeka.

Edwards is among several lawmakers who stay at the Ramada during the legislative session.

Topeka Police say they are reviewing the Ramada's records and continue investigating what happened.

A phone message left with Edwards' Topeka office Thursday was not returned. He lists his occupation as a pastor/evangelist.