Jim and Paige Nachtigal will be going to prison, the result of multiple charges and convictions of child abuse.
The couple was sentenced to 32 months in prison with 24 months of post-release supervision, each, in Harvey County District Court March 8. Both were each also granted a one week stay of the sentence, ordered to remand themselves to law enforcement 5 p.m. March 15.
"This crime was too severe," said Judge Joe Dickenson. "There is a line we can not cross, and we just can not tolerate."
James Nachtigal was sentenced on three counts of abuse of a child. Paige Nachtigal was sentenced to one count of abuse of a child and one count of aiding and abetting abuse of a child.
James and Paige Nachtigal had each been charged with five counts of abuse of a child and seven counts of aggravated battery after an investigation removed three internationally adopted children from their home in 2016. The three children were adopted from Peru, where James and Paige Nachtigal once served as missionaries.
During testimony in court, both spoke about how "unprepared" they were to take care of the children — citing behavioral issues of the children and a lack of support from the community and their church.
Testimony in court discussed the use of wooden spoons and a cane used in spankings and beatings — which according to doctors led to broken bones.
"This was prolonged abuse," Dickenson said.
The case began Feb. 5, 2016, when an 11-year-old child ran away from the Nachtigal home. The child was reported missing by his parents, and later located by a member of the Kansas Highway Patrol in a farm field walking barefoot.
Three days later North Newton Police Chief Randy Jordan launched an investigation, talking to those close to the family and neighbors about concerns. The children were removed from their home Feb. 11, 2016, by North Newton Police Department over concerns about the treatment of the children. Medical examinations began Feb. 12, 2016.
During those exams one boy and one girl were found to be severely malnourished with multiple bruises with either current broken bones or healing of past broken bones. Injuries included a broken leg, a dislocated elbow that had not properly healed, formerly fractured fingers and formerly broken ribs.
The children told investigators food was withheld, In court, the oldest of the three children told the court that "food was not treated as a necessity, it was treated as a reward."
They also told stories of "excessive exercise," with days starting as early as 5 a.m. and workouts consisting of pushups and jumping jacks that could last for hours. When the children were examined by doctors, they were found to be malnourished.
"I feel these children very likely would have died if they had not been removed from the home when they were," said Dr. Kerri Weeks, an expert witness called by the prosecution who had examined the children after they had been removed from the home. "(Him) running away from home probably saved his life."
Weeks testified for about one hour about the injuries sustained, malnutrition and general well being of the two children she examined.
James and Paige Nachtigal were arrested Feb. 16, 2016, after a child in need of care hearing at the Harvey County Courthouse.