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Crown wants ex-journalist Jonah Keri to serve minimum one year in domestic abuse case

Crown wants ex-journalist Jonah Keri to serve minimum one year in domestic abuse case. Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press

Prosecutors want former Montreal sports writer Jonah Keri to be jailed for at least one year on domestic abuse charges, a sentencing hearing heard Thursday, while his lawyer argued against incarceration.

Keri, 47, pleaded guilty Aug. 30 to charges including assault, assault with a weapon and uttering threats against his ex-wife.

His victim addressed the court via video Thursday, calling her 361-day marriage a nightmare and saying the impact on her and her family was deep and pervasive.

“While Mr. Keri was abusing me, I became overly compliant in an effort to survive,” she said.

“My survival meant I needed to keep Mr. Keri as calm as possible. I completely lost autonomy while I was with him, and it has taken a lot of time to rebuild confidence in making my own decisions or to feel safe alone.”

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An agreed statement of facts presented to the court last year detailed a series of assaults and threats committed by Keri over a period of more than six months beginning in July 2018. They included such acts as striking, biting and threatening her and their unborn child with a kitchen knife.

In October 2018, the document says, Keri held his wife by the head and head-butted her, breaking her nose. “Mr. Keri states that he hopes that her and the baby die,” it recounts. “He then states that there are knives in the apartment and she won’t survive her pregnancy.”

Keri testified Thursday the acts he committed were “not excusable” and that he was deeply sorry to his ex-wife and her family, seeking to assure them that he had undergone intensive therapy and anger management courses.

In a letter to his ex-wife read in court, Keri said he had apologized and promised to do better after each assault but admitted those words were meaningless.

“This was entirely my fault, you did not deserve anything I did to you,” said Keri, who was in tears when his ex-wife gave her testimony. “Now with the passing of 2-1/2 years and the clarity I have as a result of intensive therapy, I’m ready and able to tell you how I sorry I am.” He added that he feels “shame and guilt and remorse.”

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Keri was arrested in July 2019, ending a high-profile sports journalism career that included contributing to Sportsnet and The Athletic and appearing as an analyst on radio and television. He is best known for writing on baseball, including a 2014 book on the history of the Montreal Expos.

During her statement, his ex-wife noted that for a long time, she didn’t think she would be believed if she reported the abuse. Keri presented himself on air as a staunch advocate for women’s rights, arguing that professional athletes who abuse women should receive tough penalties.

“If someone who was so vocal about conjugal violence could be simultaneously abusing me, how could I trust that anyone else’s words and actions would be consistent,” she said.

Prosecutor Bruno Menard called for a jail sentence of at least a year behind bars as well as lengthy probation for Keri, noting his crimes involved several incidents that escalated over time.

“The facts of the case are so serious, the only way to reasonably show the gravity of the events that happened, the only way to denounce these incidents, is pronouncing a jail sentence,” Menard argued.

Keri’s lawyer, Jeffrey Boro, recommended no jail time and called on the judge to take into consideration the considerable steps taken by his client to address mental health and anger issues since his arrest.

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“What I’m telling the court is, this accused is not the same person that could’ve been before the court two years ago,” Boro argued.

He asked the judge to consider a conditional or suspended sentence with a probation order and urged him to take into account the COVID-19 pandemic when deciding on jail time, given the risk of contagion in jails.

Quebec court Judge Alexandre Dalmau will render a decision on March 23.

If you are experiencing domestic abuse, the SPVM has a list of resources available and advice on what to do. In case of an emergency call 911.

For victims and children

S.O.S. violence conjugale
Listening, guidance and referral, in French and English
Multilingual site
1-800 363-9010, 24/7
Text: 438-601-1211, from 2:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Shield of Athena
Support for women from ethnocultural communities who are victims of family violence and their children, and translation and interpretation services
514-274-8117 or 1-877 274-8117 (Montréal)

Fédération des maisons d’hébergement pour femmes
514-878-9757

Regroupement des maisons pour femmes victimes de violence conjugale
514-878-9134

For men

OP+ION
An alternative to domestic and family violence
514-527-1657

PRO-GAM
A professional and confidential therapy program for men who have resorted to violence in their domestic or family relationships
514-270-8462

SAC
Help for men having problems in their couple relationship
514-384-6296

 

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