A federal judge more than doubled the recommended sentence Monday for David "Kato" Krause, a child molester who met his victims by taking part in volunteer activities and hiring them to work at sports card shows.
In a highly unusual departure from sentencing guidelines, District Judge William M. Skretny sent Krause, 29, of South Buffalo, to prison for 10 years, despite the fact that Krause's federal plea deal specified a term of no more than 46 months.
Several teen-age boys who had been victimized by Krause were joined by their parents in loudly applauding the judge as he read the sentence to a packed, emotion-charged courtroom.
"You weaseled your way into the lives of unsuspecting adults, and then you abused their children," Skretny told a sobbing Krause. "You are an extreme danger to this community."
Krause asked the judge to help him obtain psychiatric counseling in prison. He said he realizes that his crimes have hurt many others.
"No amount of apology is going to make up for what I've done," Krause said.
Although federal judges are bound by strict sentencing guidelines, they do have the authority to go above or below the guidelines in what they consider extreme situations. Court officials said Skretny's sentence might be the most severe "upward departure" in Western New York since the guidelines were enacted in the late 1980s.
Skretny said he took the unusual step because evidence showed that the boys were traumatized by their experiences with Krause and might have suffered permanent psychological damage. He noted that Krause admitted to sexually abusing boys at card shows in 10 cities.
Authorities said Krause's volunteer activities included working as a youth director for a local church, assisting with the Boy Scouts when he lived in Florida, and being a coach and official of a local soccer league. He also worked for a time managing a West Seneca pizza shop. He has lived in West Seneca, Cheektowaga, East Aurora and Holland, and on South Park Avenue and Babcock Street in Buffalo.
Krause, who still faces sentencing next month in a related state case, pleaded guilty to transporting minors across state lines for the purpose of sexually abusing them.
Earlier this year, he admitted to FBI agents and West Seneca police that he would hire boys to work at his sports card shop and then take them to out-of-town card shows, where the boys would work for him during the day and have sex with him at night.
Krause often paid the boys a nominal salary of $10 a day, and would also buy their meals and occasionally supply them with alcohol, Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul J. Campana said.
"One of his purposes for taking the boys with him was to engage them in sexual acts, including masturbation, oral sex and anal sex," Campana said. "In our court papers, we refer to incidents involving boys 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 years old."
Campana said he hopes that parents everywhere can learn a lesson from this case.
"It is unfortunately the children of overextended parents who are most susceptible to this kind of thing," Campana said. "Parents who are very overextended with earning a paycheck and providing for their children have to avoid being too ready to trust their children to someone else. And the people who commit crimes like this are targeting parents who are overextended."
Skretny allowed two of Krause's victims and the mother of one of them to address the court. All three asked the judge to impose the most severe possible sentence.
One of the youths started to sob uncontrollably and had to sit down after saying only a few words. The other said he got heavily into drugs and alcohol abuse in an effort to "hide the hurt" he felt after becoming Krause's sex partner.
The mother of one of the boys said her son and other Krause victims will suffer for their rest of their lives. She said she and her husband trusted Krause with their son because he befriended them and acted like a good role model for youngsters.
The activity went on for several years, but the boys were afraid they would be killed if they told what was going on, the woman said.
"My son, he's afraid. He has nightmares. He's afraid because he spoke up," the woman said. "My boy, he wishes the key could be thrown away and lost, and I agree."
Krause continually cried into a paper tissue as the victims spoke. He did not look at his victims or their families at any point during the sentencing. He told Skretny he hopes to cure himself in prison, and someday work as a counselor to other pedophiles and "to help parents learn what signs to look for."