Hupp denies bail for accused child molester

Richard Keller

WOODSTOCK – A Strasburg man charged with five counts related to child molestation was returned to the Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail on Wednesday after Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp denied the man’s request for bond.

The defendant, Richard Owen Keller, 40, of 481 Stover Ave., was convicted in July 2013 on eight counts of failing to register as a violent sex offender. Keller was sentenced to serve one year and three months in prison on one of those counts and received suspended sentences of three years on each of the remaining seven counts.

A Shenandoah County grand jury indicted Keller earlier this month on two counts each of aggravated sexual battery and taking indecent liberties with a child and a single count of sodomy, all allegedly with children.

Strasburg Police Chief Timothy Sutherly said in a written statement that the victims were two boys, ages five years old and nine years old. Sutherly said the offenses were committed in March 2012 at a Strasburg residence where the boys were living with their mother.

“The mother of the boys was unaware at the time that Richard O. Keller was on the sex offender registry, and he frequented her at the home with the boys,” Sutherly wrote. “Only in October of 2015 was the oldest boy (now 13), able to tell the story of the incident from three years earlier, and the case was opened and brought to a grand jury in January of 2016.

Keller first entered the sex offender registry in 2005, but didn’t renew his status until December 2015.

Keller’s defense attorney, Varinder Dhillon, of Staunton, proposed that Hupp set a $10,000 secured bond and require the defendant to wear a GPS tracking device if freed on bail.

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said Keller’s earler convictions for sex offenses and failure to register as a sex offender required that he continue to be jailed while awaiting the outcome of the case.

Campola said Keller committed the alleged crimes before the 2013 convictions for failure to register as a sex offender. The victim in the current case reported his accusations to police after Keller had served his prison term for failing to register as a sex offender.

“The commonwealth believes no amount of bond would safely ensure the safety of the community,” Campola told Hupp.

The state sex offender registry lists Keller’s initial sex offense convictions as indecent assault and aggravated indecent assault, both against minors. The convictions were recorded in Pennsylvania in May 2000.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com