A former civilian hospital employee at Fort Leavenworth was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison for trying to kill his supervisor by setting her on fire.
Clifford Currie, 55, was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan., where a jury in August found him guilty of assault with the intent to kill.
“This evil act sentenced Lt. Blanchard to a lifetime of continued torture,” Chief District Judge Julie Robinson said.
After imposing the sentence — the maximum allowed under the law — Robinson addressed Blanchard directly.
“My heart is filled with sorrow for you,” the judge said.
She added that she admired her so much for how she has handled the ordeal.
When the judge asked Currie for a comment before sentencing, he declined to say anything.
Robinson also ordered restitution of more than $3.4 million.
Katie Blanchard told the judge that she relives the crime in recurring nightmares.
“I wake up with the terror I’m on fire again,” she said.
She has gone through numerous surgeries and skin grafts, and lives every day with pain.
But the lieutenant said she will not give up fighting to overcome her physical and psychological scars.
“I’m a survivor and I’m not going to curl up,” she said.
The incident has been especially difficult for her three young sons who can’t understand why a “bad man” would hurt mommy.
She said what Currie did was totally unprovoked and he deserves the maximum sentence, though she and other family members said it was not justice.
“Twenty years doesn’t touch the amount of pain this man has caused,” she said. “This monster doesn’t deserve to be free.”
According to court documents and trial testimony, Blanchard was in her office when Currie doused her with gasoline and ignited it with a match.
Currie also tried to attack her with a razor and a pair of scissors. He also tried to stomp on her neck before other employees were able to intervene and subdue him.
A co-worker heard Blanchard’s screams and saw her on fire from the chest up.
That woman rushed to Blanchard and attempted to put out the fire while keeping Currie away from her.
She was also burned while extinguishing the flames and suffered a broken bone in her leg during the struggle.
The woman grabbed Currie’s leg and tripped him to the ground. Other employees arrived and held Currie and tended to Blanchard’s injuries.
Blanchard had previous difficulties in supervising Currie and had asked for others to be present whenever she spoke with him.
During the incident, the victim yelled, “I told you this would happen,” according to court documents.
Another witness said that when an emergency responder yelled that the victim may have suffered chemical burns, Currie yelled, “It’s gasoline you idiot.”
Blanchard and members of her family described in court Thursday how the incident has impacted their family.
Her sister, Analise Blanchard, who is also a nurse, described the horror of knowing how painful burn injuries are and knowing that there was a high mortality rate for someone so badly hurt.
She said she still has dreams where her sister is on fire, but she can’t put it out.