Ex-baseball writer Keri sentenced to jail for domestic abuse

MONTREAL (AP) — A Quebec judge sentenced once-celebrated baseball writer Jonah Keri on Wednesday to 21 months in jail for repeated abuse of his ex-wife.

Quebec court Judge Alexandre Dalmau’s sentence was considerably higher than the one sought by the Crown, which was for a minimum of one year in jail.

“In the circumstances, the only courage worth highlighting is the victim’s,” Dalmau said, reading from his 16-page ruling. “She had the courage to report the incessant violence she suffered despite the immense pressure on her to remain quiet.”

He said Keri was the greatest source of that pressure because he abused her physically and threatened violence against her if she spoke out.

Before his July 2019 arrest ended his career, Keri was a well-known sports writer in North America who was published on a variety of platforms including Sportsnet and The Athletic. He also appeared as an analyst on radio and television. The court heard he earned $250,000 yearly.

Keri, 47, had no previous record and pleaded guilty last August to seven charges including assault, assault with a weapon, assault causing bodily harm, harassment and uttering threats against his ex-wife and a child whose identity is covered by a publication ban.

The sentences doled out Wednesday were for 18 months and three months, involving two separate cases, to be served consecutively.

The defense had called for a sentence that didn’t include jail time. At sentencing, Keri testified he was deeply sorry for his actions and that he had undergone intensive therapy and anger management courses.

An agreed statement of facts described 14 incidents over a seven-month period between July 2018 and January 2019, during which Keri’s ex-wife was pregnant.

The court heard the woman was punched in the knees, hit on her head, pushed, dragged, slapped, bit and spat at. In one instance, Keri head-butted her, fracturing her nose. One time, Keri threatened to throw her from a balcony. He grabbed a knife during a separate incident and threatened to remove the unborn child from her womb.

Dalmau wrote that while the physical attacks did not leave permanent damage, the psychological damage was significant.

“The court believes her,” Dalmau wrote. “It is undeniable that the process of healing from such psychological injuries is long and difficult. In cases like this, it is much harder for the mind to heal than the body.”

Prosecutor Bruno Menard told reporters Wednesday the court’s message to victims is to speak out. As for the jail term, Menard noted it’s the most serious sentence a court can impose when all other options are deemed not appropriate.

“Sending someone who is free to go to jail after events like that for a period of 21 months, which in my head is a significant period for someone who has never been to jail before, I think it is the kind of sentence that sends the appropriate message,” Menard said.

In his judgment, Dalmau noted that many people had written letters of reference on behalf of Keri expressing disbelief that he could have committed the acts.

Dalmau said those letters brought him to “troubling observations.” He said Keri was able to construct an image very different from reality and he wondered if the victim would have been believed if she had not carefully documented the incidents.

Keri was best known for writing on baseball and for his 2014 book on the history of the Montreal Expos.

Defense lawyer Jeffrey Boro said his client was disappointed with the sentence but knew what he did was wrong.

“It’s a sad story with a sad ending; there are no winners in these types of cases,” Boro said. “The victim, as you heard, has been traumatized. The accused has lost the life that he knew, which was quite exciting, lucrative. He was on top of the heap and he’s no longer there; he’s in jail.”

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