By Derek Spellman

dspellman@joplinglobe.com

NEOSHO, Mo. — The former mayor of Collins who pleaded guilty to a sexual misconduct charge will be sent to a state sex-offender assessment program to determine whether he should receive probation or a prison sentence, a Newton County judge ruled Friday.

“I’ve offended my wife and my community, and I’ve offended my God,” Allen Kauffman, 63, said during his sentencing.

Kauffman, his voice often thick with emotion, later said, “I can certainly guarantee it won’t happen again.”

He pleaded guilty to one count of sexual misconduct involving a child by coercion last month.

He resigned last year as the mayor of Collins and also as the pastor of the town’s Temple Lot Church following an Internet sting by Diamond detective Jim Murray.

Kauffman was originally charged with several counts of enticement of a child based on a month-long Internet correspondence between him and Murray, who was posing as a 13-year-old girl in Internet chat rooms.

Kauffman was accused of soliciting sex and nude photographs from Murray’s decoy; suggestively exposing his chest and abdomen on a Webcam; and encouraging the decoy to engage in sexual activity with a friend on a Webcam.

Kauffman’s defense attorney, Dee Wampler, of Springfield, had asked Judge Tim Perigo for probation on the reduced charge, contending his client boasted a “spotless record all his life” prior to the incident.

“It’s very difficult to explain how this happened,” Wampler said, noting that his client was undergoing counseling.

Wampler suggested a number of conditions that could be attached to his client’s probation, including electronic monitoring, house arrest, curfew and taking away his computer.

“I don’t think he is a threat to the community,” Wampler said of Kauffman.

But Assistant Newton County Prosecutor Bill Dobbs asked for a four-year prison sentence, contending Kauffman’s actions were not a single incident but part of a pattern.

“There were 11 communications with officer Murray,” Dobbs said, describing those communications as “raw” and “detailed.”

Dobbs also pointed out that Kauffman was charged with and has since pleaded guilty to a similar accusation in Cole County. Additionally, Kauffman allegedly called Murray not long after charges were brought to ask the detective to dispose of the evidence against him, Dobbs said.

Dobbs argued that Kauffman would likely commit similar offenses if released.

“I think the likelihood that he would continue [offending] is high,” he said.

The sex-offender assessment unit, based at Farmington Correctional Center, is a 120-day residential program that assesses community risks and sex- offender treatment needs, according to the Missouri Department of Corrections.

Dobbs said the program will be used to determine whether Kauffman would pose a threat to the community if released. The results of the program will be forwarded to the court, which will use them to devise Kauffman’s sentence.



Separate case

In a separate case in Cole County, Mo., Allen Kauffman pleaded guilty in July 2008 to one count of sexual misconduct or attempt involving a child under the age of 15. He was assessed a suspended sentence with five years of supervised probation and 100 hours of community service, and was prohibited from Internet use. He is required to register as a sex offender.

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