Elderly priest admits molesting student 0
"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 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, Que. - 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 Crown attorney 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 Rev. Timothy Scott said in the statement.