Katie Blanchard, before and after she was attacked in 2016
Katie Blanchard, before and after she was attacked in 2016
Harriet Sokmensuer
November 03, 2017 02:41 PM

The Kansas man who attacked his military nurse supervisor with a razor blade last year before setting her on fire with gasoline was sentenced on Thursday to two decades behind bars, PEOPLE confirms.

“Twenty years doesn’t feel like justice,” Army Lt. Katie Blanchard told PEOPLE hours after Clifford Currie learned he would receive the maximum possible penalty for his crime.

“He not only tried to kill me but he gave me injuries I will have for the rest of my life,” Blanchard says.

Currie, who was convicted in August of assault with attempt to commit murder, attacked Blanchard on Sept. 7, 2016, in the Munson Army Health Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. (His public defender could not be reached for comment following his sentencing.)

The pair had worked together for a year during which Currie, a civilian employee in an administrative position at the hospital, made threatening comments to Blanchard, she says — and she says she told her supervisors she feared for her life.

That September day, shortly after 5 p.m., Currie entered Blanchard’s office with a plastic bottle in his hand containing gasoline. He doused her with the gas and then set her on fire and used a razor blade to cut her, according to a federal criminal complaint.

He later ran to his office to grab a pair of scissors to stab Blanchard and put his foot on her throat to hold her down, but a witness pushed him away.

While Currie was being restrained by military colleagues, Blanchard, covered in blood and badly burned, screamed, “I told you this would happen!”

According to the criminal complaint, witnesses said Blanchard had voiced her concern about her subordinate and even asked to have someone accompany her when she worked with him directly. But Blanchard says her requests were denied.

PEOPLE has been unable to reach Munson Army Health Center or Army officials for comment.

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Blanchard previously told PEOPLE that since a January 2016 dispute with Currie, he had behaved in an aggressive and threatening manner toward her, including cornering her in an office and yelling at her.

“He looked at me and he was wild and he was aggressive,” she said, looking back to the encounter in January. “I really felt like he was going to hurt me.”

From that moment on, Blanchard spoke to multiple supervisors at the hospital, even submitting a memorandum for behavioral issues, she said. No action was taken, she alleged.

“When I was lying on the ground, I just [thought] ‘You guys did this, you knew this was going to happen and you allowed this to happen,’ ” she told PEOPLE  in August. “I felt utterly let down.”

At Currie’s sentencing this week, the judge reportedly said his “evil act sentenced Lt. Blanchard to a lifetime of continued torture.”

“My heart is filled with sorrow for you,” the judge told her.

Since the attack last year, Blanchard has been receiving treatment in San Antonio, Texas, and sharing her progress with friends and family on Facebook.

She says knowing the trial is over brings her family and friends some closure.

“My family feels peace that he [Currie] will be in prison and things worked out the way they did, but I do think my family has dealt with so much this last year that it’s hard to come back from that,” Blanchard tells PEOPLE.

Now, Blanchard says, she is on a committee that is part of an initiative introduced by the Army after her attack that will both educate and introduce policies against workplace violence.

“It gives me hope that we’re moving in the right direction,” she says. “It’s not going to be changes overnight, but at least we’re working towards change and hopefully the policies [we create] can help save someone from what happened to me.”

Looking toward the future, Blanchard tells PEOPLE she and her family are moving from Texas to Washington, where she plans on going back to school.

She hopes she will continue to learn more about herself while helping others.

“I think I was always a strong person,” she says. “I just don’t think you know how strong of a person you are until you’re put in that position, and then you see yourself and you’re like, ‘I can keep doing this.’ And one day, a year later, you look back and you’re like, ‘Wow!’ “

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