Ex-guard convicted of indecent assault

Keefer also found guilty of false imprisonment

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A former Blair County Prison guard was convicted Wednesday of indecent assault and false imprisonment, charges filed after a female co-worker accused him in 2015 of making unwanted sexual advances.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated about two hours before rendering guilty verdicts against Paul David Keefer, a 47-year-old Altoona man who worked 11 years at the prison before losing his job after charges were filed.

Judge Wade Kagarise, who presided over the two-day trial, set sentencing for Dec. 22 and ordered the county parole and probation department to complete a presentence investigation.

Under Megan’s Law, the indecent assault conviction will require Keefer to register his address with state police for 15 years.

District Attorney Richard Consiglio described the woman’s testimony as the strongest evidence in the case.

“No one saw what happened, but I think the jury realized that there was no reason for her to make this up,” Consiglio said after the trial concluded. “Her testimony was clear, and she’s been consistent from the beginning about what happened to her.”

Consiglio presented the jury with a prison video showing the woman, a licensed practical nurse, outside a room where Keefer was stationed to control the electronic door-locking system used to restrict inmate access. The woman told the jury that Keefer invited her to come into the room as inmates were passing.

While inside, she said Keefer pulled her body next to his, touched her breasts, kissed her, made her touch him and prevented her from leaving. She said she was able to get out when Keefer opened the door for another guard who stopped to get a key.

The woman, seated in the back of the courtroom when the verdicts were announced, wiped away tears.

When testifying, she said it had been difficult to pursue the complaint and deal with harassment from co-workers who didn’t believe her or supported Keefer. She said it would have been easier to back away.

Defense attorney Ted Krol said he was disappointed with the verdicts and will consider appealing.

Keefer was not required to testify, and Krol said he saw no reason to put Keefer on the stand. In his client’s defense, Krol called several witnesses who praised Keefer’s work as a prison guard.

“We didn’t think there was strong enough evidence for a conviction,” Krol said.

In his closing, Krol told the jury: “Whatever conduct took place does not fit the definition of sexual assault or false imprisonment.”

Hollidaysburg Borough police officer Allen Fochler, who investigated the woman’s complaint and filed the charges, took a photo of text messages the woman sent to Keefer after the Oct. 2, 2015, incident. In those messages, the woman advised Keefer that what he did was out of line, that it was never to happen again and that she wanted to be left alone.

“Why would she be texting these words to him?” Consiglio asked the jurors in his closing. “You think she sent them for no reason?”