Ex-Jehovah’s Witness elder from Cork to be jailed for sexual assault

The victim came forward to make the complaint about the historical indecent assault when Keys made a friend request to her 12-year-old daughter via social media.
Ex-Jehovah’s Witness elder from Cork to be jailed for sexual assault

Judge Dara Hayes imposed a sentence of 15 months with the last nine months suspended in the case. 

A FORMER Jehovah’s Witness elder is to be jailed for six months for sexually assaulting a girl aged between six and eight some 40 years ago.

Judge Dara Hayes imposed a sentence of 15 months with the last nine months suspended in the case against Josef Keys, of Hazelwood Close, Glanmire, who faced sentencing yesterday at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

After the sentence was imposed on Keys, aged 81, his barrister Suzanne Lewis returned to court and applied to have the imposition of sentence delayed until next Monday, May 9, for Keys to make arrangements in respect of medications.

Judge Hayes agreed to this adjournment in the circumstances. The accused is to be jailed on Monday for the indecent assault dating back approximately 40 years.

The injured party, who was indecently assaulted as a child, came forward recently to report the 40-year-old offence when the 81-year-old man contacted her daughter on social media.

Garda Caroline Horgan, who investigated the case, said the victim came forward to make the complaint about the historical indecent assault when Keys made a friend request to her 12-year-old daughter via social media.

Ms Lewis described the social media contact made recently by Keys as being “inadvertent”.

In the course of his judgment, Judge Dara Hayes said the contact was an aggravating factor in the case and he did not accept the explanation that it was an inadvertence.

The Probation Service report put the accused at a moderate risk of sexual offending in the future. As well as this new indecent assault conviction, Keys had one previous sexual assault conviction in the 1990s.

Judge Hayes referred to the eloquence of the victim impact statement and the woman being left to feel hyper-vigilant and having issues of trust.

In mitigation, the judge said the actual assault was at the lower end of such offences and did not have aggravating factors such as digital penetration and was not repeated. It was also accepted that by pleading guilty, Keys had spared the complainant the difficulties of having to face giving her evidence ina trial.

Garda Horgan said of the indecent assault back in the 1980s that Keys, who was then aged around 40, offered to teach the child to drive and sat her on his lap in the driver’s seat.

She recalled feeling that he was hard in the groin area, Garda Horgan testified at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, the injured party said: “The legacy of having been sexually assaulted as a child impacts me every single day — I am hyper- vigilant to any risk to mine or my family’s safety. When you tried to friend-request [daughter] on social media I realised you had not changed. That is the reason we are here today.

“I hate the fact that because I was abused as a child this impacts how I am as a mother. I am paranoid about my daughter’s safety. 

"You saw my vulnerability and took advantage of it for your own gratification. I find it hard to trust anyone now because of the fear I have of any harm coming to my daughter.

“Almost immediately after the sexual assault happened, my life changed. The losses in my life began to mount up. I find it hard to be loved, to accept love, and trust love. Even the simplicity of someone looking in my eyes unnerves me. I am so grateful that I am in a loving relationship but that relationship is still impacted… by that early childhood trauma.”

The statement then addressed Keys directly: “I have carried your shame for most of my life. But today I am handing that back to you because it is not mine to carry. 

"I did nothing wrong. I was a young, innocent, and vulnerable child and you, the trusted man in the community, took that from me.”

Ms Lewis said: “He himself was the victim of serious sexual abuse as a child.”

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