WICHITA, Kan. – A Kansas missionary couple has been sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for giving brutal, religion-inspired beatings to two of the three children they adopted from Peru.
James and Paige Nachtigal, of North Newton, were sentenced Thursday for several child abuse counts. They entered Alford pleas to the charges in August in which they acknowledged prosecutors had enough evidence for convictions but admitted no guilt.
The Nachitgals were arrested in February 2016 after an 11-year-old boy was found walking barefoot in a field and told authorities he feared returning home because he hadn't done his homework and that was a sin. The boy's 11-year-old sister was found with a broken leg.
The couple had adopted the children from an area of Peru where they worked as missionaries.
North Newton Police Chief Randy Jordan wiped back tears as he described what he saw when he was called to the Nachtigal's home and the injuries to the boy, KSNW reported.
"They did find there was a healing broken bone in his arm, and when he said he got hit it hurt, he got hit hard," Jordan said. The police chief previously said the Department for Children and Families received around a dozen reports from people concerned about the couple's treatment of their adoptive children — some coming as early as 2014 — but none were forwarded to his department for investigation.
The eldest of the adopted children escaped the brunt of the abuse and read a prepared statement during the sentencing in which she described the younger children being beaten with a cane and a wooden spoon. The girl, now 17, also said her adopted siblings were deprived of food and even a real bed.
Jim and Paige Nachtigal, who will begin their sentences next week, both spoke during the hearing.
"I had no idea of the difficulties and behaviors I would have to deal with," said Paige Nachtigal. Jim Nachtigal was fired from his job as CEO of the Kansas Christian Home, an elderly care facility, after charges were filed.
Harvey County Attorney David Yoder told The Wichita Eagle after the hearing that the boy was adopted by his foster family and that the older girl is doing well in high school. He said the younger girl is "severely traumatized" and in a group home.
"Her recovery is going to take a lot longer," Yoder said.