Group Home Operators Jailed On Slavery Charges
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
October 27, 2004
WICHITA, KANSAS--Six people with mental illness have been removed from their Kansas group homes and the facilities' owners jailed on charges of slavery and abuse.
Arlan Kaufman, 68, and his wife, Linda, 61, were arrested by federal agents Tuesday and charged with involuntary servitude, according to the Associated Press. They remained in jail Wednesday after making an initial appearance before a federal magistrate.
Authorities said that the couple has operated the Kaufman House Residential Group Treatment Center since 1985, serving about 14 people with mental illness.
The arrests came after 20 agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation searched two of their group homes in Newton, Kansas.
The investigation stems from an incident in November 1999, when federal officials found two of the residents working nude in the Kaufmans' home in Potwin, Kansas. Neighbors reported that the couple often brought people to the home to perform tasks in the nude.
Officials claim that the Kaufmans punished residents by taking away their clothes, and by using a painful stun gun on at least one resident.
Forcing people to work against their will is illegal under Kansas law and the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Those who violate the law can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.
Additionally, authorities said the Kaufman Center has failed to provide any treatment to its residents for the last 15 years.
Records received by the Associated Press also showed that some state regulators have known of problems with the homes and the Kaufmans for several years. These include a suspension of Arlan Kaufman's clinical social worker license in August 2001, amid allegations he sexually exploited dependent adults.
The investigation has brought new questions as to why it took so long for state officials to act.
"Two Accused of Enslaving Mentally Ill" (Wichita Eagle)