Ft. Leavenworth employee set on fire describes horrifying attack

KANSAS CITY, Kan. - On Tuesday, the man responsible for setting a U.S. Army lieutenant on fire last year was found guilty in federal court.

"It has been the hardest thing I've had to deal with and it continues to be," said Katie Blanchard. 

The scars on Army Lt. Katie Blanchard’s face, neck, and hands are still visible. 

She was brutally attacked but it wasn’t while serving her country overseas. The attack happened here at home. 

"I think what really changed was at lunchtime when I brought Mr. Currie into my office," said Blanchard.

Blanchard worked at the Munson Army Health Center in Leavenworth, Kansas. 

One of her employees was 54-year-old Clifford Currie. 

For months, Blanchard complained to her boss about not being able to work with him — saying she feared for her life.

"I asked him what the problem was and he yelled, ''You, you are the problem' and I was taken back by that," said Blanchard.

On September 7, 2016, Currie walked into Blanchard’s office holding a bottle.

"When he splashed me with it and I smelled the gasoline, I thought 'he is going to lock me in this room and I am going to die in here,'" Blanchard said. 

Currie set her on fire, ran to his office, got a pair of scissors and cut her. 

"I was laying there thinking 'I am going to die. This is the last time I am going to see my kids,'" said Blanchard. "I thought of them dating, camping. My husband and family have been amazing through the recovery." 

Nearly a year later Currie had his day in court. Currie was charged with assault with the intent to commit murder. 

After a few hours of deliberation, a jury found him guilty. 

Blanchard’s attorney Will Helixon said there is more that needs to be done. 

"We are really looking forward to those errors in the system that allowed this to happen," said Helixon. 

Blanchard has justice one year later - but the pain and scars won’t ever go away. 

"I want to work on workplace violence," said Blanchard. "There are so many indicators that could have been done, that should have been done that weren't done that has now lead me to this point."

There was another charge Currie faced of assaulting another employee. Currie was found not guilty of that charge.

He will be sentenced on October 31. 

The Army Medical Command sent 41 Action News the following statement: 

"The criminal justice system held Mr. Currie accountable for his violent attack on LT Blanchard. We are grateful for the hard work of the law enforcement officers and prosecutors who dedicated many months in preparing this case to make justice possible.  The Army medical command continues to

take active steps to prevent the threat of further incidents.  A workplace violence team has been formed to address the issue throughout Regional Health Command-Central and to share lessons learned with all facilities in Army Medicine. Our goal is to prevent assaults from occurring and continue to make our hospitals a safe place for our employees and beneficiaries."

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