Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 13, 2014

Former doctor faces child porn sentencing

Keller apologizes for 'obsession' that he says began as teen

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — As he awaited his sentencing this week on three child pornography counts, former Phillips Academy physician Richard Keller apologized for an obsession that he says began as a curiosity in his teenage years and continued into adulthood.

Keller, 57, was due to be sentenced Wednesday in federal court to five to six years in prison for one count of possession and two counts of receiving child pornography. He pleaded guilty to the charges last November as part of a plea deal.

According to documents filed in federal court, Keller, who practiced in Massachusetts for 24 years, could have faced 15 to nearly 20 years in jail under federal sentencing guidelines on the one count of possession and two counts of receiving child pornography.

However, both prosecution and defense attorneys involved in the case agreed that Keller should face 63 to 78 months in prison because he was a first-time offender, had the support of his family and former colleagues, has a strong education and work history and has accepted responsibility for his actions, among other factors.

In a letter to Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV, Keller wrote his obsession began as a teenager “only to worsen with the advent of computers and the Internet.” He said the obsession didn’t define him, and that he has always worked to help people. Even in prison, he said, he has helped inmates seek medical care.

“He is ready to serve his sentence and anxious to engage in all of the appropriate programming and therapy,” according to a memorandum filed by his attorneys, Patricia Garin and Max Stern of Stern, Shapiro, Weissberg and Garin of Boston. He has “accepted responsibility for his actions,” has agreed to resign his medical license, has no prior criminal record and has strong family and community support, their statement said.

Another memorandum, signed by U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf, states, in part, that “a sentence of 78 months’ imprisonment is sufficient but not greater than necessary to satisfy the sentencing goals ... . Imposition of the recommended sentence, jointly recommended by the defendant, is warranted to reflect the seriousness of the offense, the length of time Keller engaged in this activity and the amount of monies paid for the exploitation of children.”

Under the plea deal, Keller, formerly of 10 Cyr Circle, would serve 63 to 78 months in jail, with six years of supervised probation. It is unclear if he will get credit for time served, as he was arrested and has been incarcerated since September 2012, about 18 months ago. If so, Keller could be out of jail sometime in late 2017 or early 2018.

The plea deal has been approved by Saylor, who was expected to formally sentence Keller in U.S. District Court in Boston Wednesday morning.

Keller amassed ‘staggering’ collection

According to the U.S. attorneys’ sentencing memorandum, Keller spent $2,695 between 2009 and 2011 buying videos and images from a Toronto company that specialized in images of young boys.

He put in 19 different orders that included more than 50 separate titles. The transactions seized by foreign law enforcement in May 2011 showed that Keller had the material sent to his residence at Phillips Academy in Andover, where Keller was medical director for 19 years, until 2011. He also had material sent to a post office box he opened in 2004.

When federal agents searched Keller’s Cyr Circle home in 2012, they found 500 high-gloss print-outs and 60 to 100 DVDs of child pornography.

The videos and images showed boys as young as 7 years old engaging in sexual behavior with other boys or displaying their genitals.

A child in one of the videos in Keller’s personal collection said in a victim impact statement that knowing images of him were on the Internet made him feel “embarrassed,” and that he wanted the judge to know he felt “tortured.” When asked what he would like to see happen to those caught sending, receiving or possessing explicit images of him, the victim suggested they be “sexually assaulted themselves, contract a sexually transmitted disease and die.”

The U.S. attorney’s statement went on to say that Keller’s “criminal conduct should be assessed via consideration of the collection of child pornography that he amassed. ... the numbers are staggering.” The collection included “lewd and lascivious posing of young boys, but also included graphic depictions of boys aged 7 to 16 engaged in sexual acts, including oral and anal sex as well as the sado-masochistic abuse of a boy.”

The statement noted that Keller maintained his collection right up until a search warrant was executed at his house in September 2012. Keller also maintained this collection for “more than a year after the birth of his son, including moving the voluminous collection from a previous address on the grounds of Phillips Andover ... to 10 Cyr Circle.”

A sentence of 78 months, the U.S. attorney said, “appropriately accounts for Keller’s role in the market for child pornography ... providing an economic incentive for the sexual exploitation of children.”

Finally, the U.S. attorney said the length of the sentence should serve as a deterrent to him and others from future criminal conduct.

“Keller was not deterred from engaging in this criminal conduct despite his position as a pediatrician for a prominent school, his standing in his family and the community, and the substantial threat of criminal prosecution.”

Given those reasons, the statement said, a sentence of 78 months’ imprisonment, “significantly above the mandatory minimum and within the range agreed to in the plea agreement, is sufficient, but not greater than necessary to reflect the seriousness of Keller’s crime, the nature and circumstances of the offense, the history and characteristics of the defendant, to deter the defendant and protect the community.”

Support from family and friends

An outpouring of support from the former physician’s family members, friends and past colleagues and students, among others, may have helped shorten Keller’s time in jail. About 120 pages of documents containing dozens of letters of support were filed in January by Keller’s attorneys with Judge Saylor as part of a sentencing memorandum.

Richard Parker, chief medical officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Care Organization, pleaded with the judge to “view the entirety of Keller’s life when making sentencing decisions and take into account all the good he has done, and still could do, if given the chance.”

There are similar letters from colleagues at Phillips, including Max Alovisetti, director of the Graham House Counseling Center; Frances Burger, consulting psychiatrist at Phillips; Ada Fan, a former Phillips English teacher; Zachary Fine, a former Phillips student, and numerous others.

Keller’s brother, David, wrote that the “revelation of Richard’s ‘secret life’ has been shattering to my family ... to put it mildly.” Yet he said it would be “tragic” not to let his brother “contribute to society once again given his considerable knowledge and medical understanding.”

Older sister Jan Keller Schultz wrote that “Richard excelled in his studies at Yale and NYU Medical School, and worked extremely hard in his residency at Yale and fellowship at Harvard.” She added, “We are thankful that my father died just before his arrest and, due to memory problems, my mother is unaware of his predicament.”

Another sister, Lisa Keller Lee, wrote that Keller’s family would continue to support him “during his transition back into society.”

Teruyo Shimazu, who identified herself as Keller’s “longtime friend and Phillips Andover colleague and ... life partner,” said he is a “compassionate, kind and generous man who will be a wonderful father to our son and lifelong partner to me. He is ready to fully address his addiction and will succeed in doing so.”

She said she hopes she and their son can visit him in prison. “We will grow together as a family and learn with him ... I am ready to help him every step of the way.”

In his own letter, Keller himself refers to his son, saying “the most pressing to my aching heart and trouble soul, a little boy needs his father, and the woman I love needs her future husband.”