Kenneth Keeler (Father Ken Keeler)
Priest, Archdiocese of Ottawa, Ontario. Ordained 1971. Founder of St. Brigid’s Summer Camp for needy children (Low, Quebec). Victims testified at trial that they saw Father Keeler at the camp having sexual with Bishop John Beahen. GUILTY plea 1993 to charges of sex abuse of young boys in the late 70’s and early 80s. The boys were 12 to 15 years of age when they were molested. Keeler was sentenced to 8 months, and was out in a half-way house in less than eight weeks.
Still has his faculties to say Mass and hear confessions, and has been doing so for years, first as Chaplain for the Sisters of Charity at the Mount Saint Vincent Motherhouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and more recently, since the old motherhouse was torn down, for the Sisters at Caritas, also in Halifax, Nova Scotia. It is not unusual for members of the public to be in attendance at Masses, particularly at funerals.
The Orator, January – February 1993: Denial Denial Denial and May-August 1993 : “a Travesty of Justice”
06 April 2016: BLOG She did what all responsible adults would do
Archbishops of OTTAWA Archdiocese from time of Father Keeler’s ordination: Joseph-Aurèle Plourde (02 January 1967 – September 1989) ; Marcel André J. Gervais (Coadjutor Archbishop: 13 May 1989 – Archbishop: 27 September 1989 – 14 May 2007); Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. (14 May 2007 – – )
Auxiliary Bishops in OTTAWA Archdiocese from shortly before Father Ken Keeler’s ordination to present: Joseph Raymond Windle (15 November 1960 to 23 Jan 1969); René Audet (21 May 1963 – 03 January 1968); John Michael Beahen (11 May 1977 – 14 March 1988); Gilles Bélisle (11 May 1977 – 19 August 1993); Brendan Michael O’Brien (06 May 1987 – 05 May 1993); Frederick Joseph Colli (19 December 1994 – 02 February 1999); Paul Marchand, S.M.M. (31 May 1993 to 08 March 1999)
Archbishops of Archdiocese of HALIFAX from time of Father Keeler’s hire as a Chaplain: Austin-Emile Burke (8 July 1991 Appointed – 13 Jan 1998 Retired); Terrence Thomas Prendergast, S.J. (30 June 1998 – 14 May 2007 – Archbishop of Ottawa, Ontario) ; Anthony Mancini (18 Oct 2007 – )
The following information is taken from Canadian Catholic Church Directories (CCCD) which I have on hand, the 198o Ontario Catholic Church Directory (OCD80), two editions of the 1993 Orator (Orator), media (M), Facewbook (F), and personal information (P). The gaps in years only mean that I do not have information on his whereabouts at that time. If anyone can fill in any of the gaps please contact me.
March 2016: vacationing in Progressio Mexico (P)
March (?) 2014: vacationing in Progressio Mexic0 (P)
December 2014: Retiring – will move to PEI. (F)
1993-2013: Address for Ottawa Diocesan Centre (CCCD)
2013: Chaplain at Caritas, a Retirement home for the Sisters of Charity, Halifax, Nova Scotia (P)
July 14, 1997
MARTELL, Sister Mary Cephas (Mary Felicite) – 94, Mount St. Vincent Motherhouse, Halifax, died July 12, 1997, in Mount St. Vincent Motherhouse. Born in L’Ardoise, Richmond Co., she was a daughter of the late Pacien and Rose (Samson) Martell. She entered the Sisters of Charity, Halifax, in 1931, and made her religious profession in 1934. For over 40 years, she served the communities of Renton, Washington, British Columbia and Nova Scotia. She retired to Mount St. Vincent Motherhouse in 1975. Surviving are brother, Alphonse; several nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by sister, Lena; brothers, Amable, Ephraim, Edmund, Bertrum, Richard, Angus. Visitation 3-8 p.m. today, Mass of Christian burial 10 a.m. Tuesday, both in Mount St. Vincent Motherhouse and chapel, Rev. Kenneth Keeler officiating. Burial to follow in Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Lower Sackville. In lieu of flowers, donations to Mother Berchmans Centre Ltd.
around 1994: Chaplain to the sisters at Mount Saint Vincent Motherhouse, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Those who hired him for the ‘job’ allegedly knew he had a criminal record. Whether or not the sisters who were subjected to his spiritual care knew that their chaplain was a molester is also unknown
03 May 1993 or sooner: After serving less than eight weeks of his sentence was living in a half-way house in Ottawa and free to come and go as he pleased (Orator)
15 March 1993: Sentencing hearing (Orator).
sentenced to eight months jail and two years probation. (The Crown, Mr. Morin, tried to appeal the sentence. The Ontario Attorney General said ‘no.’ Those were the years of the NDP government. The Ag would have been Marion Boyd)
05 February 1993: Patrick Brennan, a good friend of Father Keeler who worked at the summer camp, entered a guilty plea (M) The victim was one of the the of the Keeler victims.
18 January 1993: During Mass a homily at St. John the Apostle, Archbishop Grevais apologized to the victims (M)
13 January 1993: GUILTY plea
October 1991: CHARGED. Removed from St. John the Apostle, Nepean, Ontario (CCCD)
Summer 1991: Nothing has happened. Victim decided he has no option but to go to police (Orator)
January 1991: Victim meets Archbishop Marcel Gervais to tell of sex abuse at hands of Father Keeler (Orator)
Christmas 1990: Four victims approach Father Keeler hoping that the priest would acknowledge his wrongdoing and seek help. Keeler denied. (Orator)
1985-1986: Pastor, Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Wellington St., Ottawa (CCCD)
1981-83: Holy Rosary Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa (M)
molesting a boy during these years at Holy Rosary (M)
1980: Co-Pastor with Father P. Baxter, St. Martin De Porres Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario (OCD80 )
1977: appointed co-pastor at St. Martin De Porres Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa, Ontario – effective 01 September 1977 (Clergy Appointments, Archdiocese of Ottawa 11 July 1977)
1973-74: St. Brigid’s Roman Catholic Church, Ottawa (Pastor Father Joseph T. O’Donnell) (CCCD)
1960s: attended St. Pius prep seminary in Ottawa (M)
Church in ‘denial’
Sunday, 23 November 1997
Jacki Leroux, Ottawa Sun
[This article ran as an insert in conjunction with” Sins of the Fathers”]
Victims of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic church are far from surprised at how little monitoring the church does of past offenders.
“There’s still major denial.” Says Chris Fuoco, one of five victims of Father Ken Keeler, who was convicted of indecently assaulting five teen boys in 1993 in Ottawa.
“They figure if they forget about it, it will all just go away. They’re definitely not protecting the innocent,” he says.
At Keeler’s trial, court heard how Fuoco – today 28 years old and living in Vancouver – only went to police after Keeler’s bishop dismissed his allegations and accused Fuoco and a friend of lying.
And even after Keeler was convicted, no one from the church ever apologized to Fuoco – something he and other victims are still angry about today.
“They’re self-righteous. They never came out and said ‘It was wrong and we’re sorry,” he says.
“In all professions there’s a code of ethics. There doesn’t seem to be in the church.
“If I’m a teacher and I’m convicted of something like that, my career is over. My employer has to hold me accountable,” he says.
Although relieved to hear Keeler is currently living in a Halifax convent with elderly nuns – not serving in a parish or working with kids – Fuoca still thinks someone should be keeping an eye on him.
“I’m not for banishing them to the dregs of society, but how (is the church) ensuring they’re not abusing someone? They’re not.”
His friend Dale Pegg, says he was also abused at Keeler’s church run summer camp by the camp cook. The man was a friend of the priest who attended St. Pius’ preparatory seminary with Keeler in the 1960s.
The charges against the man ended up being dropped due to lack of evidence.
“I’m not for making people go about wearing sandwich boards saying ‘I’m a pedophile,’ but the church, because they’re shown a lack of responsibility in the past, should take responsibility for their priests,: says Pegg.
“They have a responsibility to make sure those who have offended in the past are kept away from situations where they’re inclined to re-offend,” he says.
Sylvia Smith also believes the church is only out to protect its priests, not its parishioners.
“That’s what they do – they move them around,” says Smith, mother of one of the victims of Father Dale Crampton, convicted in 1987 of indecently assaulting teenage altar boys at a Nepean parish in the late ‘70s and early 80s.
“Even with Crampton, we know that when one family complained to the bishop, he was moved to another) church. And when they found out what had happened at the church he was moved to another one).
“Obviously, nothing’s changed. It’s still going on,” she says.
Smith found it frightening that Crampton was working in the marriage tribunal in the London, Ont., diocese, and finds it even more so that he’s now back in Ottawa.
“He worked on the marriage tribunal with troubled families, giving troubled children support,” she says.
“It concerns me because I don’t believe pedophiles can be cured.
“I think the community has a right to know where they are,” she says.
So, too, does Eddy Graveline, molested by one of the most brutal Christian Brothers, Leo Monette, at St. Joseph’s Training School for Boys in Alfred, Ontario.
“They shouldn’t even be on the streets.” He says.
“They’re child molesters. They’ve been doing that all their life. They’re not going to suddenly stop just because they go to court and get a slap on the wrist.
“I know what they do and how the church hides it. They’re just as guilty (as the abusers) for not checking on them.” He says.
No appeal of indecent assault sentence planned
The Ottawa Citizen
15 May 1993
The Ontario attorney-general’s office has decided against an appeal of the eight-month sentence imposed on Rev. Kenneth Keeler, of Ottawa, for indecently assaulting five teenage boys.
Keeler was sentenced March 15 after pleading guilty to offences committed while he was an Ottawa priest and director of a summer camp in Low, Que. in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Andre Marin, assistant Crown attorney, had sought a prison term of at least two years, and said in March that the Crown intended to appeal the sentence.
But he said Thursday that the attorney-general’s office in Toronto dropped the appeal after reviewing Keeler’s case and other sentences for similar offences.
Keeler was released from the regional detention centre May 3 and is living in an Ottawa halfway house. He spends his time away from the halfway house looking for volunteer work.
Keeler is not functioning as a Catholic priest, but could end up volunteering at an archdiocesan social service project, said Guy Levac, spokesman for Archbishop Marcel Gervais.
Abusive priest jailed; Crown to appeal length of sentence
The Ottawa Citizen
16 March 1993
Fallen idol and disgraced Roman Catholic priest Kenneth Keeler apologized to his victims Monday, then was jailed eight months for indecent assault.
But Ottawa’s Crown Attorney’s office, which had sought a prison term of at least two years, is appealing the sentence.
Keeler had pleaded guilty to six charges for assaulting five teenage boys while he was an Ottawa priest and director of a summer camp in Low, Que. in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
“I wish to say I accept full responsibility for my actions, particularly for the breach of trust, Keeler told the court.
Keeler, 49, said he was sorry for putting the victims through the court process. He pleaded guilty in January only after his trial had begun and after three of the victims, now adults, testified against him.
Witnesses at both the trial and the sentencing hearing described the high regard in which parishioners held Keeler. He founded a summer camp, inspired people to return to the Church and was a role model who straightened out several troubled youths.
“We’ve heard this was a man who had impeccable, good character, said defence lawyer William Carroll. “We now know there was a dark side to that character.
The most serious assault, court was told, involved Keeler masturbating a teenager to ejaculation and telling him he was ridding him of “bad spirits.
Assistant Crown attorney Andre Marin said it was paradoxical to raise Keeler’s high standing in the community in his defence, because this only highlighted how serious the breach of trust was.
“All the good work, all the contributions to society cannot wash away that extreme breach (of trust), said Justice Hector Soubliere.
Soubliere said there was no difference between Keeler’s crime and that of Nepean Catholic priest Dale Crampton. In 1986, Crampton pleaded guilty to molesting seven boys during a 10-year period. The Ontario Court of Appeal imposed an eight- month sentence on Crampton after an Ottawa judge suspended sentence.
One of Keeler’s victims said while he does not want Keeler to be punished as an example to others, he is “disheartened by the sentence. “It may appear not worthwhile for future victims.
The man said he accepts Keeler’s apology and hopes he “didn’t get it from a greeting card. A court order bans the identification of Keeler’s victims.
Carroll called five character witnesses who testified Monday about the great contributions Keeler has made.
But Marin also read impact statements from the victims and their families. They described the harassing telephone calls they have received from Keeler supporters and the toll on their health.
Archbishop Marcel Gervais apologized Monday to the victims and their families.
Ottawa man guilty of sex assault
The Ottawa Citizen
05 Feb 1993
A friend of convicted child molester Rev. Kenneth Keeler was found guilty Thursday of assaulting one of Keeler’s victims a decade ago.
Patrick Brennan, 46, of Piccadilly Avenue, Ottawa, pleaded guilty to the charge that he had fondled the boy’s genitals as he slept beside him in bed at his home.
The victim, now 27 and working as a youth recreation worker in Vancouver, told police of the incident in 1991 when he first recounted Keeler’s assaults.
He was 16 at the time and knew Brennan as a friend who worked with Keeler at St. Brigid’s Summer Camp in Low, Que.
Judge Lynn Ratushny sentenced Brennan to two years probation and ordered him to continue counselling, which he has been undergoing since 1990. He was also ordered not to be left alone with children under 16 years old.
The victim, who cannot be named due to a court order, is one of three men who testified Rev. Keeler had fondled their genitals while a priest at various Ottawa parishes and director of the camp.
The Ottawa Citizen
25 January 1993
Recent Citizen reports about the trial of Rev. Kenneth Keeler have been very disturbing. I feel the Citizen has exploited the fact that Father Keeler is an Ottawa priest, who was well loved by his parish. He founded St. Brigid’s camp and is loved by those who have attended and worked in the camp.
I can accept Father Keeler’s guilt of sexual assault, but going into the details over and over again is very hurtful to those of us who have grown close to and have been helped and supported by Father Keeler over the years. I ask the Citizen to be more sensitive in its reporting.
Maureen Conlin, Ottawa
Archbishop apologizes to victims of abuse
The Ottawa Citizen
18 January 1993
In a sermon Sunday, Ottawa Roman Catholic Archbishop Marcel Gervais apologized to the men who were victims of sexual assaults by an Ottawa priest.
“In the name of the Church I extend my sympathy and apologize to the victims of Father (Kenneth) Keeler‘s past, Gervais told the congregation of St. John the Apostle.
“These acts have happened and they have been admitted,” said Gervais.
“They are in no way excusable. And we find them all reprehensible.
“In your own way, you are victims as well, he told parishioners. “It is right that you should feel anger, sadness, disappointment and shame. I want you to know I feel the same way.
Keeler was the pastor of the Baseline Road church until he was accused last year of sexually assaulting three teenage boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
On Wednesday, in the middle of his trial, Keeler changed his plea to guilty. He is to be sentenced Jan. 29.
“Good people can be sinners. Bad people can do good things. Good people can do terrible things, said Gervais, as he asked Keeler’s parishioners to remember the good things the priest has done.
The sermon was Gervais’s first direct public statement about the Keeler case since the 48-year-old cleric pleaded guilty. Gervais used the occasion to defend his own actions in the case, which were criticized by Keeler’s victims.
One of them, now 27, said that after hearing his complaint, Gervais dismissed it by saying: “We have no reason to believe what you guys are saying and that’s it.
Gervais said Sunday that is false.
“I never dismissed the charges: I took them most seriously, he said from the pulpit.
He said Keeler’s victims first went to the priest but he would admit nothing and they turned to the church in January 1991.
Gervais said he was asked to handle it quietly by one victim but, as the allegations grew, he said he was forced to open an official church inquiry. The victim testified before a church-run panel in May 1991.
According to the 27-year-old man, he waited a few weeks for the church to act on his testimony before going to police.
Gervais said he realizes now that the pace of the church’s investigation was not quick enough for the victims.
“I can understand their frustration (with the church). I cannot reproach their overall method. It takes courage to seek justice publicly. They are to be commended.
Gervais will meet parishioners in the parish hall on Tuesday at 7 p.m. to answer their questions.
However, he cautioned that he will be limited in what he can say while Keeler is awaiting sentencing in Ontario and still faces outstanding charges in Quebec, related to his work at St. Brigid’s Summer Camp in Low.
Trial far from over for prelate
The Ottawa Citizen
16 January 1993
Ottawa’s Catholic archdiocese is chasing St. John’s, Nfld. for the dubious title of Catholic sex abuse capital of Canada.
This week, Rev. Kenneth Keeler became the area’s third priest to be convicted of criminal sexual offences. If you add these priests to the five current or former Christian lay brothers convicted of offences in nearby Alfred, the Ottawa archdiocese now is second only to St. John’s in numbers of convictions. And trials still await 10 more brothers from Alfred.
The St. John’s archdiocese has had five priests and one former priest convicted, plus eight lay brothers from Mount Cashel orphanage. More important, Keeler’s trial has given Ottawa’s Archbishop Marcel Gervais a public black eye. Certainly, it’s the worst blow to the church since last June when the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops put new guidelines in place to help bishops deal with sex abuse charges.
One complainant in Keeler’s trial said he went to the police only after waiting in vain for the church to do something about his earlier complaints to Gervais.
The witness testified Gervais told him: “We have no reason to believe what you guys are saying, and that’s it.
That was Monday, and Gervais’s office wouldn’t comment while the trial was on.
But the archdiocese was still caught flatfooted by Keeler’s guilty plea on Wednesday.
On Thursday, Rev. Pat Powers, the archdiocese’s vicar for administration, finally denied that Gervais made such a statement, and said the church was still in the process of investigating the complaints when the victims chose to go to the police.
All this matters only because the Keeler case attacks the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy itself.
Gervais’s own credibility was obviously brought into doubt. Even worse, one of Keeler’s victims told the court he had caught Keeler apparently masturbating Bishop John Beahan, now deceased.
Beahan’s not around to defend himself, but he’s now the second Canadian bishop to have his reputation tainted in a court. Criminal charges against Prince George Bishop Hubert O’Connor were recently stayed by the courts because of a legal technicality, but he was forced to admit having sex with young women at a residential school, and fathering a child by one of them.
We’ve known for a while that Canada’s seminaries have somehow failed to screen out men with sexual problems. But now it’s becoming obvious that even the selection process for Canada’s best and brightest priests — their bishops — is somehow flawed.
Catholic officials have always explained that priests are only human, and that like other professions, the clergy also has bad apples.
That explanation never has seemed convincing, because now almost 100 of Canada’s 14,000 Catholic priests and lay brothers have been charged or convicted of sexual crimes.
It’s true that some doctors, teachers, social workers and other professionals have occasionally violated their professional ethics. But probably no other similar professional group has been hit by such a high number of criminal charges of a sexual nature. In the last 10 years, for example, not one complaint of a sexual nature has been laid against Ontario’s 2,700 certified social workers.
There’s also the inevitable suspicion that if 100 priests and lay brothers are charged with criminal offences, how many others are violating their vows in more acceptable ways?
The bishops may think the new guidelines on how to handle sex abuse have solved their public relations problems.
But in the Keeler case, Rev. Pat. Powers’s explanations just aren’t enough. The archbishop himself is the only one who has even a chance of quelling the public doubts about the handling of Keeler’s case. And he’s been too busy with other duties to speak out on this one.
The Keeler trial has also raised anew the question of whether there is something systemically wrong with the Catholic Church in Canada, problems that go far beyond the territory covered by the new guidelines.
Archbishop maintains he acted on sex abuse charges against priest
The Ottawa Citizen
15 January 1993
Ottawa’s Archbishop Marcel Gervais has contradicted the testimony of a sex abuse victim who said he went to the police after getting no satisfaction from the church over his complaints about Rev. Kenneth Keeler.
Keeler, 48, pleaded guilty Wednesday to sexually assaulting three teenaged boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He will be sentenced Jan. 29.
One of the victims told the court Monday that he originally took his complaints to Gervais in January 1991, and later testified before two priests at a church-run hearing in May 1991.
The man is now a 27 and a youth services worker in Vancouver. He said he waited several weeks without hearing anything from the church, and then went to the police after Gervais told him “We have no reason to beleve what you guys are saying and that’s it.”
However, Rev. Pat Powers, the archdiocese’s vicar for administration, said Thursday that Gervais had told the complainant from the beginning that he was free to go to the police at any time. The complainant simply exercised that right when he became impatient with the church’s investigation.
Immediately after receiving the complaints about Keeler, the archdiocese had set up a committee of experts from various fields to deal with the complaints. But Powers said the investigation was slowed because the complainant had to be flown in by the archdiocese to testify before the church committee.
“At no time did the church communicate to the complainant that it had drawn any conclusions in the case,” said Powers.
He said the archdiocesan committee was still discussing the case with Keeler and others when the complainant chose to go to police. Once that step was taken, the church’s investigation was put on hold until the courts had dealt with the matter, said Powers.
Gervais followed every step of the archdiocesan policy on sexual abuse in handling Keeler’s case, said Powers. He said the archdiocese has since adopted the more comprehensive guidelines recommended last year by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The new guidelines say that if the church has reasonable grounds to believe a priest is guilty of sexual abuse, then it should be reported to police or child protection authorities.
Powers said Keeler steadfastly denied to the church committee investigating the allegations that he had done anything wrong.
Powers said Gervais relieved Keeler of his title as pastor of St. John the Apostle Church immediately following the priest’s admission of guilt in the sexual assaults.
Gervais has also referred Keeler’s case to a committee of experts for recommendations on how to deal with the aftermath of the case, including Keeler’s future in the church.
The archbishop had asked Keeler to leave his parish on Baseline Road more than a year ago when the priest was first charged. But technically, he was still the pastor of the parish.
On Sunday, Gervais and auxiliary Bishop Brendan O’Brien will take turns speaking at masses at St. John the Apostle in an attempt to help parishioners deal with Keeler’s conviction.
Priest admits 3 sex assaults
14 January 1993
OTTAWA (CP) – A Roman Catholic priest has admitted in court that he fondled the genitals of two teenage boys and masturbated another to rid him of “bad spirits.”
Rev. Kenneth Keeler, 48, had denied the allegations at the start of his trial. He stunned the court yesterday when he suddenly changed his plea to guilty on three counts of sexual assault.
The three complainants, now aged 26 to 28, told court about incidents in the rectory of Ottawa’s Holy Rosary Church and at St. Brigid’s summer camp in Low, Que., when they were between the ages of 13 and 15.
Under a court order, the men can’t be named.
Two of the victims confronted Keeler in 1991 about the incidents, which occurred in the late 1970s and early 1980s. But he admitted to nothing.
After Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais told the men that nothing would be done in 1991, they turned to the criminal justice system. Keeler will be sentenced Jan. 29.
Parishioners revered molesting priest
The Ottawa Citizen
14 January 1993
As the boy walked to church, hand-in-hand with his family, he looked up and said: “I’m going to be a priest one day.”
When he became a teenager, the Roman Catholic Church and one of its priests, Kenneth Keeler, grew to be the focus of his life. “I looked to him as my role model, my mentor.”
Years later, when the boy was a man, he found himself in an Ottawa courtroom talking about how Keeler had taken away his innocence and ultimately his religion through an indecent assault.
Keeler, 48, had denied the allegations, but admitted all Wednesday, pleading guilty and bringing his trial to a quick halt.
The man and two other victims had two concerns that forced them to go public: They wanted Keeler to get help, and they didn’t want any other young people to be at risk. And if the court decides Keeler should go to jail as a lesson to potential child molesters, that’s OK, said one victim.
“I have a really tough time going into a church that will not deal with its problems from within,” said one of the victims. “These people are supposed to be our leaders. They’re supposed to lead us in our faith. I can’t see them doing that.”
Keeler often took teenaged boys under his wing. Because he was admired by his parishioners in all the area churches in which he served, parents would encourage Keeler’s interest in their sons.
Keeler’s name still appears on the bulletin as pastor at St. John the Apostle church on Baseline Road. Many parishioners were shocked by Wednesday’s change of plea, but they were also compassionate and eager to protect Keeler’s reputation.
“I’m very fond of Father Keeler. I always was and I always will be — guilty or innocent,” said choir director Roberta Fowlie after Keeler pleaded guilty.
“He did an excellent job. He was liked by everybody in the parish and his leadership qualities were excellent. This was shocking to me,” said another parishioner, Ron Bennett.
Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais asked Keeler to leave the parish after the charges were laid in October 1991.
According to statistics collected by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, he is at least the 56th Catholic priest or brother to be convicted of sexual offences in Canada since about 1985.
The procedures followed by the Archdiocese of Ottawa in Keeler’s case do not appear to fall in line with guidelines set by the bishops’ conference a year after charges against him were investigated and dismissed by the archdiocese.
The new guidelines recommend that church officials act within 24 hours, if possible, to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe there was sexual abuse by a priest. The guidelines also suggest that if officials determine there are such grounds, the priest be put on leave immediately, and police or child protection authorities be informed.
Keeler was clearly revered by many young people he met over the years. He bought them dinners, took them on trips and regularly let them sleep over at the church’s rectory. Keeler also founded a summer camp in the late 1970s, where he employed many teenagers as “cabin boys.”
At camp and in the rectory, Keeler would ask select boys to share his bed. He’d cuddle them in a “spoon-like” position that sometimes led to genital fondling.
As for the three victims, their ordeal before the courts has cost them dearly. Some saw their best friends turn on them.
“They almost put us on trial,” one said.
Two of the three victims have since gone on to lead successful lives. They work as youth recreation workers in Ottawa and Vancouver.
But the third victim, a brother of one of the workers, has spent most of the last decade behind bars for various criminal offences. He was also the victim of the most severe abuse from Keeler, forced masturbation.
His brother said Keeler’s conviction may help him confront some demons in his past. “I’m not saying Keeler made him a criminal. I’m just saying he didn’t help him.”
Priest masturbated boy to banish spirits, court told
The Ottawa Citizen
13 January 1993
A Roman Catholic priest masturbated a teenage boy to rid him of “bad spirits, a court was told Tuesday.
The 26-year-old man was the third person to say he had been indecently assaulted by Ottawa priest Kenneth Keeler, 48. Earlier Tuesday, a 28-year-old man said Keeler fondled his genitals when he was a teenager.
None of the complainants can be identified due to a court order.
The allegations date to the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Keeler was a priest at various Ottawa parishes and the director of St. Brigid’s Summer Camp in Low, Que.
Tuesday, the 26-year-old man said he and Keeler spoke about the masturbation incident within days. “He told me he was getting the bad spirits out of me, the man recalled. He was 13 at the time.
“I was pretty naive. I had a hard-on so I figured that must have been bad spirits.
The man said he later stole $700 from the rectory of Holy Rosary Church, where Keeler was a priest and where the incident took place. The man said he was “pissed off at Keeler but was too embarrassed to tell anyone. After Keeler confronted him, the boy never spoke to him again.
He didn’t tell anyone about the incident until 1990. In the interim, the man got into more trouble. He has a criminal record and is now in custody on an unrelated matter, court was told.
Tuesday’s other witness said he was once asked as part of a high school assignment to write about the most important person in his life.
“I put Father Keeler down in front of my own father, he said.
The man, 13 at the time he was fondled, said he was an altar boy for Keeler in an Ottawa church and was a “cabin boy for the priest at the summer camp.
He said he rationalized one fondling incident as no more than a dream. It was only years later that he was able to talk about it.
The man said he voluntarily shared Keeler’s single bed at the camp and they would sleep, cuddled in a “spoon like position.”
Charges against priest mar parish anniversary
The Ottawa Citizen
28 October 1991
Anniversary celebrations were dampened Sunday at St. John the Apostle Church on Baseline Road as parishioners learned their priest had been removed from the parish until his trial on sexual assault charges.
The parish went ahead with its 25th anniversary celebrations, but without Rev. Kenneth Keeler, 47, who was charged Thursday with three counts of indecent assault dating back to 1977.
Ottawa’s Archbishop Marcel Gervais and auxiliary Bishop Brendan O’Brien attended different weekend masses at the church to help deal with what O’Brien called the ”confusion and mixed emotions” brought on by the charges.
During his homily, O’Brien asked parishioners to pray, and to help one another deal with the emotions brought on by the charges against Keeler. He told them, ”prayer helps us not to make rash comments.”
Parishioners were tight-lipped after hearing O’Brien at the 11 a.m. mass Sunday, with some refusing comment. One called Keeler ”a great guy,” and another said, ”we’ve got to accept them (priests) as human like everyone else.”
O’Brien explained to parishioners that Keeler will be getting support from fellow priests during the legal process. But he also said that ”the bishop must also be present for the needs of any alleged victims.
”The diocese has offered to help with counselling or other needs. But it must be understood that this is a gesture of pastoral concern, and in no way a judgment on the case.”
Keeler is charged with indecently assaulting a 17-year-old boy at Holy Rosary rectory on Wellington Street between 1981 and 1983, and with indecently assaulting a 14-year-old boy while a pastor at St. Brigid’s Church on Murray Street and St. Martin de Porres on Richmond Road.