Sentence reduced to 6 years in child rape case

By John W. Goodwin Jr.


Michael Kaufman had once been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison for the rape of two boys, but, after a decision by the appellate court and a plea agreement with prosecutors, he will be a free man in six years.

Kaufman, 42, of Youngstown, appeared for sentencing Thursday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. Kaufman earlier had pleaded guilty to one count of felonious assault and one count of rape.

This was not the first time Kaufman appeared before Judge Krichbaum. Kaufman had been convicted by a jury in March 2008 of raping the two boys.

Judge Krichbaum, at that time, sentenced Kaufman to four life terms in prison for the rapes.

Kaufman appealed the sentence in his jury trial. The 7th District Court of Appeals then ordered new and separate trials, one pertaining to each victim, saying joining the offenses against both victims in the same trial was prejudicial to Kaufman.

Kaufman entered a plea deal with prosecutors before he could go on trial a second time. The defense and prosecutors agreed to a term of six years in exchange for Kaufman’s plea to the two felony charges.

Robert Bush, an assistant county prosecutor, said prosecutors took a lot into account when offering the plea deal, including the fact that one of the victims recanted his statement and the other is no longer in town and did not want to go through another trial.

“When you put those witnesses before a jury, it’s a roll of the dice. You just don’t know what is going to happen,” Bush said. “The victims are aware [of the agreement].”

Atty. John B. Juhasz, representing Kaufman, asked the court to accept the agreed-upon six-year sentence. He said Kaufman had been made aware that he will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison and report to the county sheriff every 90 days for the rest of his life.

Kaufman refused to make any statements during the proceedings.

“I am bound by the decision of the court of appeals,” Judge Krichbaum said. “I respect that decision, and that is what puts us in the position we are in today. The court feels, under the circumstances, the agreed-upon sentence is a proper disposition of this case.”

The judge sentenced Kaufman to three years on the felonious-assault charge and three years on the rape charge. The sentences will run consecutively. Kaufman will be given credit for the 765 days he already has spent in jail.

Kaufman, who had been free on bond pending his resentencing, was led away in handcuffs after the court proceedings.

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