Section: News

Campus Safety officer placed on leave after criminal charges

Campus Safety Officer Donald Keeling was indicted for two counts of gross sexual imposition, according to the Mount Vernon News crime log, published Aug. 17 online. Keeling has been on leave since the charges were filed.

Gross sexual imposition, as stated in the Ohio Revised Code, covers issues of consent in sexual encounters. The Mount Vernon News classified the counts against Keeling as potential third-degree felonies.

Incidents of gross sexual imposition are considered third-degree felony charges when those involved are “less than 13 years of age, whether or not the offender knows the age of that person” or when an individual touches the genitalia of an individual younger than 12 years old “with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.”

An offense report filed April 19 by Knox County Detective Sergeant Danial Bobo originally labeled the offense as “Rape – victim < 13 non-forcible.” The indictment later defined the case as gross sexual imposition.

The report also listed three victims, although all identifying details were redacted. Knox County Sheriff David Shaffer indicated that some redactions were due to the involvement of at least one juvenile.

Richland County Child Protection Services worker Julie Eldridge on Feb. 5 contacted Bobo regarding “sex abuse that occurred in Knox county,” according to the offense report.

“Ms. Eldridge provided me with documentation from the victim’s interview at Nationwide Children’s Hospital,” Bobo wrote in the report, referencing a pediatric hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

The report specifies that the alleged incident occurred at Keeling’s home in Centerburg, Ohio.

Keeling’s criminal arraignment occurred on Aug. 12, according to the Knox County Court of Common Pleas, and his criminal jury trial is scheduled for Nov. 1.

Director of Human Resources Jennifer Cabral declined to comment on any individual employee circumstances.

She directed the Collegian to the Staff Handbook, which lists, “Any act of harassment, sexual, racial or other; telling sexist or racial-type jokes; making racial or ethnic slurs” as “unacceptable activity.” The Handbook states that this behavior “may result in immediate dismissal without warning.”

“As soon as we knew about the charges we put him on leave,” Campus Safety Director Bob Hooper wrote in an email to the Collegian.

He declined to comment further.

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