The Ottawa Citizen
06 September 2012
By Andrew Seymour
OTTAWA — An 81-year-old pedophile priest and retired high school teacher who asked a male student “if you can’t trust a priest, who can you trust?” before indecently assaulting him has been sentenced to house arrest.
Father Kenneth O’Keefe was a teacher at Ottawa’s St. Pius high school when he touched the 16-year-old during a sleepover at his apartment in 1974.
The Grade 11 student had been fighting with his parents when he went to see the priest, who was also his homeroom teacher. O’Keefe invited him to stay.
O’Keefe told his victim not to be “foolish” when he suggested sleeping on the floor. Instead, O’Keefe offered to share the bed.
The teen later woke up to the naked and sexually aroused priest grinding against him from behind. O’Keefe was also reaching around with his hand in the boy’s underwear, touching him.
The victim said he jumped out of bed. O’Keefe told him not to overreact and to come back to bed.
The victim said he went home and told his parents, who called the school principal the next day.
Neither the victim or his parents ever received any followup from the principal or O’Keefe.
But when he returned to school, a smiling O’Keefe welcomed him back. The student took one look at him, felt sick, and left the school for good.
The victim only went to police in 2010 after learning another teacher at the school had been accused of molesting a student.
Court heard O’Keefe is facing a similar sex allegation in Gatineau. That matter is still before the court.
“Father O’Keefe was in a position of trust, responsibility and authority as a priest and teacher at a Catholic high school,” said Ontario Superior Court Justice Lynn Ratushny. “When he succumbed to his pedophilia, aided presumably by his consumption of alcohol … he breached the trust of a young man then on the cusp of adulthood.”
Ratushny sentenced O’Keefe, a one-time alcoholic who now suffers from dementia, to a nine-month conditional sentence that he can serve in the community. Six months of that sentence will be spent under house arrest at the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre in Toronto, where O’Keefe’s lived for the past five years with other infirmed priests.
She agreed with a psychiatrist’s finding that he was a very low risk to reoffend.
The Crown had asked for a six-month jail sentence.
The victim, now in his 50s, told the judge the encounter with O’Keefe has haunted him.
“He, through an act of violence, perversion and power, ripped me off the path I should have followed at a very young age,” the victim said. “Father O’Keefe robbed me of my boyhood, of my manhood, of my future,” he said. “No one has the right to do this to any human being.”
O’Keefe’s lawyer, Andrew Bradie, said his client used to drink as much as 12 ounces of hard liquor a day. He kicked his habit and hasn’t committed another offence in the nearly four decades since.
Bradie also showed the judge a 1980 letter from then-Ottawa mayor Marion Dewar, praising the priest for his kindness and wisdom. O’Keefe retired from active ministry in 2006.
O’Keefe is the second priest from St. Pius to have been found guilty of an indecent assault in 1974.
Father William Joseph Allen, 81, was also given a nine-month conditional sentence after being found guilty of sexually molesting three brothers at the high school in the early 1970s.
Elderly priest admits molesting student
The Ottawa Sun
First posted: Thursday, September 06, 2012 12:54 PM EDT | Updated: Thursday, September 06, 2012 07:20 PM EDT
By Megan Gillis , Ottawa Sun
“If you can’t trust a priest, who can you trust?”
That’s what Father Kenneth O’Keefe told the 16-year-old St. Pius X High School student before the boy fell asleep at his teacher’s apartment 38 years ago.
He awoke to the naked O’Keefe grinding against him from behind and reaching into his underwear to touch him.
Now 54, he’s “a broken man who lives with the constant memories of a broken boy.” That single act of “violence, perversion and power” has “haunted and tainted every aspect of my life.”
O’Keefe, 81, pleaded guilty Thursday to indecent assault on a male and was handed a nine-month conditional sentence, six months of it house arrest at the Toronto priests’ residence where he lives.
Judge Lynn Ratushny noted that O’Keefe, who has dementia, has lived an apparently law-abiding life since – although he faces a similar, earlier charge in Gatineau – and is unlikely to reoffend.
But she had harsh words for the elderly priest.
“When he succumbed to his pedophilia, he breached the trust of a young man on the cusp of adulthood,” Ratushny said. “He sought out safety and guidance and found himself victimized.”
The Grade 11 student went to O’Keefe, who told students they could always talk to him, for help after a fight with his parents.
The victim said that after he told them what happened, his late father called the principal to report the assault but nothing was ever done – a charge the principal denied to police.
The victim returned to St. Pius but after the first person he saw was a smiling O’Keefe, he left sickened and never returned.
O’Keefe was recognized for 15 years of service to the school and later lauded by a former Ottawa mayor for his community spirit, kindness and wisdom.
“We have an offender who by all outward appearances was living an exemplary life,” said prosecutor Tim Wightman, who’d sought six months behind bars.
“We know now there was a dark secret.”
Defence lawyer Andrew Bradie said that O’Keefe is “absolutely devastated” by the court process and “horribly fearful” of jail but still pleaded guilty, sparing the victim a trial.
O’Keefe – who was drinking heavily at the time – insists he doesn’t remember what happened.
His order, the Basilian Fathers, said in a statement that they apologize unreservedly to anyone he harmed and are committed to providing therapy to victims who come forward.
“This should never have happened,” spokesman Fr. Timothy Scott said in the statement.
Elderly Priest Convicted Of Indecent Assault
CFRA radio 580
Friday, September 7, 2012
A case of historical indecent assault on a 16-year-old boy committed by a priest in Otttawa 38 years ago has led to a nine-month conditional sentence.
81-year-old Father Kenneth O’Keefe will spend six months under house arrest in Toronto.
He inappropriately touched his victim – a St. Pius X student – in his apartment.
The teen – now 54 – had come to him for help after a fight with his parents.
O’Keefe suffers from Dementia and has a similar charge against him in Gatineau.
I would like to commend the individual who came forward and charged this man for the crime he committed. One by one people like you make a difference. Thank you.
“Six months of his sentence will be spent under house arrest at the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre in Toronto, where O’Keefe’s lived for the past five years with other infirmed priests.” Why is it called HOUSE ARREST when they get out of jail and the exact same place is called a “Retirement Centre” the rest of the time? Which is it? Did anyone happen to mention that he wasn’t just living with other “infirmed priests”. He was living with other CRIMINAL PEDOHPILES like Hod Marshall. Did those words come out of the mouth of someone in OUR justice system?? How do we allow this to continue day after day, victim after victim, case after case, …?
How does our justice system allow a 32-year-old letter written long before the truth of this man was ever know even be admitted into the court? What possible difference does it make to anything concerning his crime and what he did to his victim? I sure would like to submit a letter saying a few things about him.
I know I am preaching to the choir here but if WE don’t stand up and say ENOUGH … who will? WHO??
Where is the outrage? Is it exclusively reserved for cases where victims were hockey players?? WHY??
Patrick: All good points! I agree that unless someone famous was abused, the chances of publicity is slim. Couldn’t we try to pass a bill in parliament to stop the insanely stupid and insignificant sentences these collars get? Seems that as supposed “holy men” they get “get out of jail free” passes and carry on with their lives while the victims are dismissed.