Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

November 7, 2013

Former Phillips doctor pleads guilty in child porn case

By Bill Kirk
bkirk@andovertownsman.com

---- — Dr. Richard Keller, an Andover resident and former longtime medical director at Phillips Academy in Andover, had pleaded guilty in federal court to child pornography charges.

Keller, 57, of 10 Cyr Circle, faces five to six years in jail on two counts of receiving and one count of possessing child pornography following his guilty plea on Monday to charges dating to September 2012.

He remains in the custody of U.S. marshals and is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 27 in Boston.

According to a plea agreement presented before U.S. District Court Judge Dennis Saylor IV, Keller admitted buying child pornography from a Toronto company and having some of it sent to the student health center at Phillips.

Keller, who was also a longtime pediatrician at Boston Children’s Hospital, worked as Phillips Academy’s medical director for 19 years until the academy failed to renew his contract in 2011.

John Palfrey, the head of school at Phillips, said in an email to students and parents after Keller’s arrest last year that the decision to not renew Keller’s contract was based on professional misconduct unrelated to the federal case.

Palfrey said Keller had been reprimanded in 1999 for using a school computer to access adult pornography and had shown an inappropriate cartoon to students in 2002.

On Monday, a spokeswoman at Phillips issued a statement reiterating that Keller left his position in April 2011 “for reasons unrelated to this case.”

She added that “at no time during his employment or during the subsequent investigation has anyone alleged criminal behavior by Richard Keller relating to his former role with Phillips Academy.”

As part of the plea agreement, Keller acknowledged that he has had a sexual interest in adolescents since the early 1970s. In a written agreement filed in court, Keller also acknowledged viewing child pornography on the Internet and “that he has previously tried to stop, but failed to do so.”

According to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s office, information about Keller first surfaced after foreign law enforcement officials seized the customer database of a Toronto company that sold child pornography. The database revealed Keller as a customer. Specifically, between July 2009 and January 2011, Keller purchased and ordered videos and images from this company on 19 different occasions. Those orders included more than 50 separate titles totaling more than $2,695 in purchases.

In addition, more than 500 high-gloss print-outs of child pornography and approximately 60 to 100 DVDs of child pornography were seized from Keller’s bedroom. Those materials depicted naked boys between the approximate ages of 10 and 14 engaged in lewd and lascivious displays of their genitalia.

Keller also possessed a DVD containing child pornography, including images and videos depicting naked boys from approximately ages 7 to 16 engaged in sexual activity, including oral and anal sex, as well as sadomasochistic conduct.

Keller did not speak during the court hearing Monday except to answer questions from the judge.

He kept his hands folded under his chin as Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Dawson Belf described the charges against him.

Keller’s lawyer, Max Stern, declined to comment after the hearing. Prosecutors also declined to comment.

In addition to his work as a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston, Keller also taught at Harvard Medical School. Keller has surrendered his Massachusetts medical license.

New Hampshire suspended his license to practice medicine in that state.

Keller had only been living in the 10 Cyr Circle house since September 2011, according to an affidavit filed in the case.

He previously resided at 48 Phillips St., which is on the campus of Phillips Academy.

Under the terms of the agreement, Keller’s attorney and federal prosecutors recommended a sentence of between five years, three months and 6 1/2 years.

The press release issued Monday said that Keller faces a mandatory minimum sentence of five years and up to 20 years in prison, up to lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the charge of receipt of child pornography; and up to 10 years in prison, lifetime supervised release and a $250,000 fine on the charge of possession of child pornography.

Members of the public who have questions, concerns or information regarding this case should call 617-748-3274.

The case is brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative created in 2006 by the Department of Justice designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse.

Led by the U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the Criminal Division’s CEOS, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children, as well as identify and rescue victims.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.