A Kansas nurse convicted of enslaving the mentally ill residents of a group home she ran with her husband was back in federal court for a re-sentencing hearing after an appeals court threw out her original prison term.
A Kansas nurse convicted of enslaving the mentally ill residents of a group home she ran with her husband was back in federal court for a re-sentencing hearing after an appeals court threw out her original prison term.U.S. District Judge Monti Belot said he will issue his ruling after he considers the testimony and evidence presented Tuesday in the case of Linda Kaufman, who was convicted in November 2006 of defrauding and abusing the home's residents.A jury found Linda Kaufman and her husband, Arlan, forced residents to work naked and perform sex acts while billing the government and their families for the “therapy.” The couple videotaped the “nude therapy” sessions in graphic tapes played for jurors at trial.“His main interest in life was sex and genitalia,” Belot said of Arlan Kaufman. “The man was a pervert — worse than a pervert, he took advantage of people.”Belot told attorneys he intended to follow federal sentencing guidelines. He said while Arlan Kaufman was the primary mover in the sexual activities described in the trial, it was Linda Kaufman who was mainly responsible for the fraud involved.“I did not adequately consider that at the time — I admit that,” Belot said.Former resident Nancy Jensen told the judge she did not want Linda Kaufman held accountable because she was married to a monster. She said she wanted Kaufman held accountable because as a nurse she knew she was supposed to advocate for her patients.“They did horrible things to us in the name of mental health and in the name of taking care of clients,” Jensen said.Jensen acknowledged during cross-examination by the defense Linda Kaufman was more compassionate than her husband toward the home’s residents.She also testified she had spent the past week at a mental health hospital where she had been “struggling with memories of what Arlan and Linda did — but I needed to speak.”Trial testimony showed the Kaufmans controlled the residents’ lives, including deciding where they could sleep, what they ate and who could wear clothes. There was testimony about residents being forced to masturbate, fondle each other and shave each others’ genitals while being videotaped.The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld their convictions, but sent Linda Kaufman’s case back to the district court in Wichita for re-sentencing. A three-judge appeals panel ruled Belot should reconsider factors that could lengthen her seven-year prison sentence.Arlan Kaufman, a social worker, was sentenced to 30 years after a federal jury found him guilty of 31 charges. His wife was convicted of 30 counts.Linda Kaufman also made a lengthy courtroom statement in which she told Belot she was thankful for his original sentence, then recounted in detail her prison activities. She told about reading 200 “worthwhile books” and donating 40 of them to the prison library. She said she sewed quilts, helped inmates learn English and sat with dying inmates as a hospice volunteer, among other things.Her attorney, Steven Gradert, argued that his client is not a danger to society.“People don’t have to be afraid of Mrs. Kaufman,” he said. “She is not a monster.”Assistant U.S. Attorney Tanya Treadway said it is hard for the residents to get past what happened to them at the Kaufman House, noting only one was brave enough to come to the hearing.“We must reach out through this sentence to protect these people,” Treadway said.Treadway also noted that Linda Kaufman has not yet accepted responsibility for her actions. “There was not a single word from her mouth to express remorse (or) express apology,” she said.The appeals court ordered Belot to determine whether Linda Kaufman used a stun gun on residents and the bulk of testimony dealt with that issue.Ken McGuire, operations lieutenant at the El Dorado Correctional Facility, testified about a stun gun’s effects. He demonstrated for the court the snapping sound and blue arc of a similar stun gun that the government contends is similar to the one Linda Kaufman allegedly used on the genitals of a naked male resident.