Kennedale Mayor Out Amid Inappropriate Contact Allegations
KENNEDALE (CBSDFW.COM) – The only sign of the space where Bryan Lankhorst’s portrait has lived in the Kennedale City Council chambers is now a nail hole, an empty remnant of his six years as Mayor.
Lankhorst resigned Saturday amid allegations he may have touched elementary students inappropriately. On Tuesday, Arlington Police revealed they’ve launched an investigation of Lankhorst.
He was a substitute teacher at Miller Elementary in Arlington. A parent tells CBS 11 Lankhorst made comments about pregnancy to a group of girls that made them uncomfortable.
The parents also alleged Lankhorst later played a game of ‘tag’ with those girls during an unauthorized recess, tagging one or more of them on their buttocks.
The girls are said to be between the ages of 11 and 12.
One victim, a 12-year-old, read from her handwritten account of last week’s experience, which detailed the game of tag.
“She put her hand out and said tag my hand and he reached around and tagged her butt,” the girl said. “He was rubbing down my back and coming close to touching my spine and he almost touched my bottom.”
The victim said she and other students had just finished taking state tests when Lankhorst engaged in the game with some girls on the playground.
The girl also said Lankhorst asked them suggestive questions before touching them like “do I think I’m going to be pregnant before I’m 18 or 19 or do I know how I came out of my mother’s womb,” the girl said.
Kennedale City Manager Bob Hart said when stories of the possible unwanted touching began surfacing last week, his staff called an emergency meeting for Tuesday night.
“We felt like we needed to get some form posted, just so there’s a time for the council to talk about what some of the alternatives might be or what we might do,” Harris said.
Technically, the council was not supposed to act on Lankhorts’s resignation during the special meeting, but they ultimately voted to accept the resignation. By law the resignation automatically becomes official Sunday.
CBS 11 tried contacting Lankhorst at both his home and office, but so far have gotten no response. His lawyer, Fort Worth-based Mark G. Daniel, said Lankhorst is innocent of any wrongdoing.
“My client categorically denies any impropriety whatsoever, we are presently doing our own work on an investigation,” Daniel said. ” Those that know Bryan know that any such allegation is completely contrary to his background and character.”
Arlington ISD officials will say only that there were complaints about an unnamed teacher who has since resigned, that complaining students did the right thing and that the district is cooperating with police.
Arlington Police will not formally identify the target of their investigation, but told CBS 11 the probe is a complaint of “provocative contact” and will likely be a Class C misdemeanor.
In his resignation letter to the city of Kennedale, Lankhorst says he is leaving to focus his attention on his family and his personal life.
“It’s kind of some disbelief,” said Hart, “but we’re going to go on with business as usual.”
As for the council’s future, Hart said Mayor Pro Tem John Clark will become mayor while the council takes applications, interviews and selects someone to fill the remainder of Lankhorst’s term.
The council voted to set July 12 as the date to select a new council member.