Suspended principal acquitted of sex charges

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Doug Keyes, pictured leaving the Windsor courthouse in October 2012 after three witnesses did not show up, was found not guilty of all sexual related charges April 8, 2013.

WINDSOR - Suspended Avon View High School principal Douglas Robert Keyes has been found cleared of all sexual assault related charges.

Keyes found himself in court after a single complainant, a 27-year-old man, filed reports with the local RCMP in November 2011, claiming he and Keyes engaged in sexual activities between 1998 and 2002. At the time of the alleged offences, the complainant would have been a junior high student at the Windsor Regional High School, where Keyes worked as a guidance counsellor. 

Keyes was originally charged with sexual assault, sexual touching, using a computer with intent to commit a criminal offense and producing a false document in December 2011. He was 51 and living in Gypsum Mines at the time.

By January 2012, Keyes was facing six additional charges including sexual exploitation and breach of trust. He entered not guilty pleas in relation to all of the sex crime charges in March 2012 but, in October of that same year, the educator pleaded guilty to one misuse of public office charge for using his authority as principal to falsify student records.Another computer-related charge was dropped.

Keyes is due for sentencing on the misuse of public office charge June 3.

In rendering his decision on Keyes’ sexual assault trial in Windsor provincial court April 8, Judge Alan Tufts found Keyes not guilty of all of charges laid against him that were sexual in nature, including sexual assault, sexual touching, sexual exploitation and invitation to sexual touching.

Tufts ruled that the complainant was not a credible witness, but the accused was. Tufts said the complainant’s recollection of the timeframe in which events occurred was inaccurate according to hard evidence presented by the defence, and testimonies provided by credible witnesses, and he noted that the complainant’s criminal record, which includes convictions for theft and fraud, shows he has a history of committing “crimes of dishonesty.”

In his written decision, Tufts notes that it would have been impossible for the complainant to be in Keyes’ home in Gypsum Mines in 1999, as he testified, because Keyes, who the judge deemed to be a believable witness, did not purchase the home until April 2000.

In summarizing his decision in court, Tufts said the evidence laid out in the case suggest the complainant embellished the facts to make it seem as though he was younger than he actually was when he visited Keyes’ home, and allegedly travelled to Halifax with him. The judge also concluded the complainant’s description of Keyes’ home was not consistent with the testimony provided by other witnesses who had lived with Keyes at the time of some of the alleged incidents.

Tufts continued, saying the complainant, who admitted to turning to Keyes for money when he was in need of cash, had a clear motive to “fabricate testimony” in an attempt to get money from the accused.

Before closing the case, Tufts said he accepted Keyes’ testimony, and acquitted Keyes of all charges as the Crown failed to prove Keyes was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Keyes was present for the proceeding, but hurried past reporters without commenting while exiting the courthouse.

Crown attorney Bill Fergusson agreed there were inconsistencies in the complainant’s testimony.

“I can’t really argue with the judge’s decision on this one,” he told reporters, following the adjournment.

Fergusson is now tasked with studying case law and deciding upon a suitable sentence to recommend to the judge in relation to Keyes’ pleading guilty to the misusing public office charge. The sentence can range from a fine to jail time, Fergusson said.

Keyes’ lawyer, Joel Pink, said the court case has significantly impacted Keyes’ life.

“He was under house arrest basically almost for the last two years with a few exceptions and, needless to say, it’s affected his career,” Pink told reporters, on his way out of the courthouse.

Pink, who was not surprised the judge found the complainant’s testimony to be unreliable, could not confirm if Keyes will be trying to reclaim his position as principal at the Avon View High School. He said that is up to Keyes and his union.

Pink said it is tragic Keyes was targeted by someone who wanted something from him.

“It’s a hazard of the teaching profession today that you never know if you have a disgruntled student as to what he can do to you and I think this is a prime example. We had an unhappy student who wanted certain things, didn’t get it, and as a result of that he lodged a complaint with the police.”

 

Background on the charges

The charges against Keyes that were sexual in nature stem from a string of alleged incidents that the complainant claimed occurred between 1998 to 2002 in Hants, Lunenburg and Halifax counties.

When the complainant testified on Oct. 26, 2012,he alleged thathe first had sexual contact with Keyes when he was about 14, during a wrestling match at Keyes’ cottage in Chester.

The complainant alleged that he regularly visited Keyes at the cottage and Keyes’ home in Gypsum Mines after that because Keyes would give him money if he asked for it.

The complainant also claimed that the pair would occasionally drink, watch porn and engage in mutual masturbation. He alleged he once received oral sex from Keyes at a hotel in Halifax when, by his estimation, he was “15 or 16.”

Two young men who had previously lived with Keyes both took the stand following the complainant, and testified that they had never consumed alcohol or drugs in Keyes’ presence, watched porn with him or engaged with him sexually.

Keyes vehemently denied the complainant’s accusations against him, stating the complainant’s claims were “absolutely not true” when he took the stand in his own defense Jan. 4, 2013. He said he helped the complainant, and the other two young men who lived with him, by providing them with a place to stay, help with homework and cash when needed. 

Keyes said the complainant filed the charges laid against him shortly after he refused to give him more money.

ASHLEY THOMPSON - THE HANTS JOURNAL

Organizations: Avon View High School, RCMP, Windsor Regional High School

Geographic location: HALIFAX, Gypsum Mines, HANTS Lunenburg Chester

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