(The following is my column for this week's Newton County News.)
Talk about a pillar of the community.
Allen Kauffman was the mayor of the mid-Missouri community of Collins. He also served as the minister of one of the town’s churches.
But there was another side to Allen Kauffman that his constituents and congregation did not know about…the mayor had a sexual interest in underage girls.
Kauffman was the final person sent to prison as a result of one of Diamond police officer Jim Murray’s internet sex stings.
This was not the case of someone who was giving in to his evil side for a first time. Allen Kauffman had a history of prowling the internet, court records show.
While awaiting trial in Newton County, Kauffman pleaded guilty July 21, 2008, in Cole County Circuit Court to a charge of sexual misconduct involving a child younger than 14. The plea came on the date of his arraignment, something that almost never happens.
And who could blame Kauffman for jumping quickly at the sweetheart deal offered by Cole County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Richardson? Kauffman received a suspended sentence, was placed on supervised probation for five years, had to complete 100 hours of community service, and have "no internet use." He was also required to register as a sex offender. In Cole County, Kauffman was also caught in a sting as he tried to arrange to have sex with an underage girl.
Richardson's plea arrangement with Kauffman might be understandable if this offense was an isolated incident, but according to circuit court records, it took Richardson more than a year to file charges against Kauffman. The crime Kauffman committed occurred March 21, 2007. It took nearly a year and two months, until May 14, 2008, for Richardson to file charges.
What makes this omission even more glaring is that it allowed Kauffman to continue to attempt to lure underage girls for sex. In Newton County, he was initially charged with three felony counts of attempted enticement of a child. These took place on Nov. 16, Dec. 11, and Dec. 12, 2007. It took less than a month after the Dec. 12 date for former Newton County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Watson to file charges against Kauffman. Despite the felony charges in Newton County, it took an additional four months for Cole County Prosecutor Richardson to get around to filing charges. Then despite the fact that Kauffman was facing similar charges in Newton County, Richardson recommended the kid gloves treatment in Jefferson City.
It would be nice to tell you that the lax justice in Cole County was corrected locally, but that would not be the case.
When Kauffman pleaded guilty Jan. 23 in Newton County Circuit Court, Judge Timothy Perigo sentenced him to four years in prison…but retained jurisdiction over the case.
As of Tuesday, June 9, after serving four months of “shock time” in prison, Allen Kauffman is a free man.