- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

NORTH NEWTON, Kan. (AP) - A Kansas man who runs a home for the aging and his wife were charged Wednesday with abusing three children they adopted from Peru, a case that the prosecutor says is so cruel that it amounts to torture.

Jim and Paige Nachtigal, of North Newton in south-central Kansas, face three counts each of child abuse. They are jailed on $300,000 bond. Harvey County attorney David Yoder said he doesn’t know if the couple has an attorney in the criminal case, and a phone message left for them at the Harvey County jail was not immediately returned.

Authorities say the children - an 11-year-old boy, an 11-year-old girl and a 15-year-old girl - were severely malnourished, had broken bones and had been beaten. They were placed in protective custody last week.

“I didn’t even know there was a medical diagnosis of child torture until this case,” Yoder said, noting that he expects to file additional charges once reports are complete. “So we take these charges very seriously and we intend on vigorously prosecuting.”

Numerous reports of suspected abuse had been previously been filed with the Kansas Department for Children and Families, but North Newton police chief Randy Jordan said he hasn’t been contacted by the agency since becoming chief two years ago.

The parents reported the 11-year-old son missing on Feb. 5. He was found later that day by a Kansas Highway Patrol Officer walking barefoot in a field, Harvey County Sheriff T. Walton said. The boy told the officer he hadn’t done his homework and had “sinned” so he was afraid to go home, The boy did not tell the officer about any abuse at the time, and he was returned home.

But authorities began an investigation, and the children were placed in protective custody six days later.

A medical examination found the two younger children were severely malnourished and had broken bones in various stages of healing. Some of the fractures were about 6 months old, others more recent, North Newton police chief Randy Jordan said.

None of the children had seen a doctor, and the boy has a serious heart condition that is life-threatening, Jordan said.

The children, who were being home-schooled, told authorities their parents hit them with a board or a cane whenever they had “sinned,” Jordan said, adding that the parents considered the children not doing their homework or not telling their mother that the food “was tasty enough times” as a sin deserving of punishment.

The younger girl was adopted about four years ago, the older girl and the boy were adopted a year later, Jordan said. The couple’s four biological children are now in their 20s.

Jim Nachtigal is their chief executive officer of the Kansas Christian Home. Its board chairman, Philip Alexander, said the board is “reviewing the situation quite closely” and expects to take appropriate action at such time as they draw any conclusions.

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