Archive for Friday, November 19, 2004

Bond set for couple in servitude case

November 19, 2004

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— A couple accused of holding mentally ill adults in slaverylike conditions at a Newton group home can be released on bond while awaiting trial, a judge ruled.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Bostwick set bond Wednesday at $200,000 for Arlan Kaufman and $150,000 for Linda Kaufman and ordered them to have no contact with the alleged victims, who are now in the state's care.

Federal authorities arrested the couple last month after raiding Kaufman House, a group home they operated in Newton for adults with mental disabilities. The charge against them stems from an allegation that residents of the home were forced to work in the nude in 1999 at a Potwin farm.

The criminal charge is based on a law making it illegal to hold or sell another person into "any condition of involuntary servitude," which is prohibited by the 13th Amendment banning slavery. Violators can be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

Arlan Kaufman, 69, is a former licensed social worker. His wife, a licensed nurse, was in charge of dispensing medication at the group home.

Federal prosecutor Lisa Krigsten opposed the motion for bond.

If released, Krigsten said, the Kaufmans would take advantage of the "cultlike" control they had over the former residents of the group home.

"The level of control these people had on these chronically mentally ill patients was complete," she said. "The Kaufmans created an environment where these people felt they could only trust the Kaufmans."

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