The Ottawa Citizen (online edition)
January 24, 2013 1:03 PM
By Teresa Smith, Ottawa Citizen
Former priest Father John Kenneth O’Keefe leaves the in Elgin Street in September, 2012. On Thursday, the retired priest who taught at various high schools in the Ottawa region has pleaded guilty for the second time in a year to sexually assaulting a teen boy in his care.
Photograph by: Mike Carroccetto , The Ottawa Citizen
OTTAWA — An elderly Catholic priest who taught at various high schools in the Ottawa region has pleaded guilty for the second time in a year to sexually assaulting a teen boy in his care.
Father Kenneth John O’Keefe, 82, pleaded guilty in a Hull courtroom this week of “indecently assaulting” a then-17-year-old boy over the course of four months between September and December, 1969.
He also pleaded guilty to “an act of gross indecency” during the same period, with the same victim, known only as G-L.B.
G-L.B. was a student at Ottawa’s St. Joseph’s Catholic School, which closed down a decade ago and reopened in a new location.
The judge sentenced the former teacher to nine months of house arrest, to be served at the retirement home for Basilian priests where he currently lives in Toronto.
O’Keefe, who was ordained into the Basilian priesthood in 1958 and who the judge says is “not likely to reoffend,” will also be subject to one year of surveillance.
In Sept. 2012, O’Keefe pleaded guilty to a 1974 indecent assault against a 16-year-old student at Ottawa’s St. Pius high school. That assault took place while he was a teacher at the school.
He was to serve a nine-month conditional sentence in the community, six months of which were to be spent under house arrest.
During the sentencing hearing for the 1974 offence, court heard 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 and offered to share his bed.
The teen later woke up to find 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 told his parents, who phoned the school principal the following day, but that there was never any response from the school or O’Keefe.
The victim, now in his 50s, came forward in 2010 after learning another teacher at the school had also been accused of molesting a student.
Court heard O’Keefe is a recovering alcoholic who now suffers from dementia.
For their part, the Basilian Fathers, the order of which O’Keefe is a member, apologized “unreservedly” to any person their fellow priest had harmed.
“This should never have happened,” said a written statement, in which the order also offered to provide “support for restorative therapy to any victims.”
The Fathers are a Roman Catholic congregation of priests and students for the priesthood who minister in high schools, universities, and parishes in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Colombia and France.
Throughout his long career, O’Keefe taught at several schools across Ontario, including the Assumption College School in Windsor, the Basilian Fathers of London, the Newman Centre at the University of Toronto and University of Western Ontario and Brescia University College.
He retired from active ministry in 2006 and moved into the Cardinal Flahiff Basilian Centre in Toronto, where he will serve his house-arrest sentences.
With files from Andrew Seymour