WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Justice Department announced today that Arlan Kaufman, 69, and his wife, Linda Kaufman, 62, were convicted on federal charges for forcing mentally ill patients to perform sexually explicit acts on videotape and to perform physical labor in the nude. The jury found Arlan Kaufman guilty on 31 federal counts and Linda Kaufman guilty on 30 federal counts, including involuntary servitude, forced labor, conspiracy, healthcare fraud, mail fraud, and Medicare fraud.
"Profiting from the systematic abuse and degradation of some of society’s most vulnerable citizens, these defendants showed no regard for human dignity and exploited the residents entrusted to their care," said Bradley J. Schlozman, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. "Today’s verdict sends a clear message that society will not tolerate this form of modern-day slavery."
For over 24 years, the Kaufmans operated Kaufman House in Newton, Kansas, a home for mentally ill patients where Arlan Kaufman, a social worker, routinely forced and coerced his patients to engage in nude "therapy" sessions, which Kaufman documented on videotapes he stored in his bedroom. The videotapes, some of which were played for the jury during the four-week trial in the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, depicted Arlan Kaufman directing the victims to perform sexually explicit acts in front of other patients. In some of the videotapes, Arlan Kaufman can be seen sexually assaulting victims.
Several victims testified at trial that Arlan Kaufman also forced them to perform manual farm labor in the nude. The victims’ testimony was corroborated by Butler County Sheriff’s Deputies who discovered four Kaufman House patients, naked, working around the farm under the Kaufmans’ supervision.
Testimony at trial established that the defendants kept their mentally ill victims compliant by creating a "climate of fear" at Kaufman House through threats, force, manipulation, and constant abuse. Witnesses testified that the Kaufmans established strict rules and punished violators by taking away residents’ clothes. In addition, the Kaufmans isolated residents from friends and family, and on one occasion used a stun gun on a resident’s testicles.
Linda Kaufman, a registered nurse, helped her husband enforce the house rules and participated in fraudulently billing the government for the "therapy" provided at Kaufman House. In addition, when patients revealed to relatives or outside health care providers that Arlan Kaufman’s treatment included nude therapy sessions, Linda Kaufman denied the allegations and assured outsiders that the victims’ allegations were "delusions" resulting from their mental illnesses.
The Justice Department has increased prosecutions of human trafficking cases in recent years. Since 2001, the Justice Department has opened 493 investigations and prosecuted 289 traffickers - more than three times the number prosecuted over the prior five year period. The conviction rate for these cases is nearly 100%.
Civil Rights Division attorneys Lisa Krigsten and Kristy Parker and Assistant United States Attorney Tanya Treadway prosecuted this case for the government. The case was investigated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Inspector General.