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Doctor pleads guilty in child porn case

Could face term of up to 6½ years

Richard Keller, 57, of Andover could face six years in prison on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

Richard Keller, 57, of Andover could face six years in prison on charges of receiving and possessing child pornography.

A doctor who worked at Phillips Academy, Andover, and at Boston Children’s Hospital pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Boston to possession of child pornography.

Richard Keller, 56, of Andover had pictures and video of boys from ages 7 to 16 engaged in sexually explicit conduct, and Keller had some of it shipped to him at the student health center at Phillips, where he worked for 19 years as medical director, prosecutors said.

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Keller faces up to 6½ years in prison, followed by seven years of supervised release, under an agreement with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography and two counts of receiving child pornography, which carry a five-year minimum mandatory sentence. He is slated to be sentenced on Feb. 27.

Keller’s lawyer, Max Stern, said after the court hearing Monday that he considered it “a particularly sad case.”

“Here’s a guy who had a brilliant career and did many good things for a lot of people, but he had this obsession of collecting this stuff, and that’s his downfall,” Stern said.

He added, “I think he’s much relieved to have this over, to no longer have this [obsession] hanging around his neck.”

Keller resigned from Phillips Academy in April 2011 after school officials said they would not renew his contract. John Palfrey, head of school at the academy, said in e-mail to students and parents after Keller’s arrest in September 2012 that the decision not to renew Keller’s contract was based on professional misconduct unrelated to the federal case.

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Palfrey said in the e-mail that Keller had been reprimanded in 1999 for using a school computer to get access to adult pornography and had shown an inappropriate cartoon to students in 2002. Palfrey said he had no reason to believe that students were affected by Keller’s crimes.

Tracy M. Sweet, a spokeswoman for the academy, said in a statement that the criminal charges do not involve any Phillips Academy students.

“Richard Keller left Phillips Academy in April 2011 for reasons unrelated to this case,” she said. “At no time during his employment or during the subsequent investigation has anyone alleged criminal behavior by Richard Keller relating to his former role with Phillips Academy.”

Keller also worked as a pediatric endocrinologist at Children’s Hospital in Boston and taught part time at Harvard Medical School. He voluntarily surrendered his state medical license after his arrest in 2012. Children’s Hospital did not respond to calls for comment.

Federal prosecutors have increased enforcement of child pornography laws under Project Safe Childhood, an initiative started in 2006 to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Keller’s case originated in an investigation into an unnamed Toronto company suspected of making child porn movies. Authorities found Keller’s name and $2,695 in orders for more than 50 titles sent to two addresses for him: a post office box he rented and the student health center at the academy.

Keller made purchases on a total of 19 occasions, prosecutors said.

Authorities later searched Keller’s house and found 500 high-gloss printouts and more than 60 dozen DVDs of child pornography.

Milton J. Valencia can be reached at mvalencia@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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