In December of last year, we wrote about Robert Earle Keith, a Kalamazoo Township man who was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with three teen boys. Keith was a former karate instructor; he was charged with several counts of criminal sexual conduct, and scheduled to go on trial June 10. Keith was found dead in his home just one week prior to the beginning of his trial; authorities believe he committed suicide.
Keith was alleged to have sexually assaulted the three boys at his dojo. He was charged with one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of fourth-degree CSC. According to news reports, Keith had told the teenagers individually that pleasing their master and joining a “secret society” was part of the process of obtaining their black belts. Keith was previously sentenced to nine years in prison for charges against him in 1995 which involved 59 counts of sexual assault in Florida. Following his release, his parole was transferred to Michigan.
Because Keith was a registered sex offender, he likely would have faced enhanced penalties if found guilty of the charges against him in the present case. Second-degree criminal sexual conduct is punishable in the state by a prison term of up to 15 years. At the time charges were filed against Keith, investigators believed there were likely other victims as well.
On Tuesday June 3, medical responders were dispatched to Keith’s Kalamazoo Township home after someone reported that he was unresponsive. They were not able to revive 61-year-old Keith, who investigators believe ingested a poisonous substance in order to end his life.
Michigan sex crime attorneys understand the impact to individuals’ lives when they are accused of these types of crimes. Regardless of whether the accused is innocent or guilty, the stress of being a suspect can be enormous. Those accused of sexual assault, sodomy, rape, and other sex-related crimes often face ruin of their reputations and careers, and are shunned in society.
First-degree criminal sexual conduct is the most serious of all charges, and leaves the defendant facing a maximum of life in prison if found guilty. Anyone who has been accused of a sex crime, regardless of his or her guilt or innocence, must work with a highly experienced and capable sex crime lawyer in order to protect your reputation and freedom, and avoid criminal penalties when possible.