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Former Kentville paramedic gets day parole on sex offences

<p>James Duncan Keats, convicted of sexually assaulting a patient, arrives at the Hants County Courthouse Oct. 26 to hear his sentence.</p>
James Duncan Keats arrives at the Hants County courthouse in October 2015. - Carole Morris-Underhill

A former paramedic convicted of sexually assaulting three women while they were in his care has been granted day parole, but denied full parole.

James Duncan Keats, 54, originally from Kentville, was sentenced to four years in jail in October 2015 after being convicted earlier that year of raping a 71-year-old woman while attending to her in her Hants County home in 2013. 

He was convicted later in 2015 of fondling two other patients in his care in the backs of ambulances earlier in 2013, and sentenced to an extra 30 months in jail.

Those women came forward after the charge involving the Hants County woman was reported.

Keats last applied for day parole in March 2018, but was denied.  

In a decision dated Oct. 10 of this year, the parole board review panel said that Keats' case management team described him as engaged in his correctional plan.

While you initially denied committing your offences, you have since admitted your involvement and have gained insight into your offending behaviour," the panel wrote. "You are currently considered in the action stage of change."

It noted that he has successfully participated in escorted day passes from prison for personal development with a chaplain and support group, and had mostly been of good behaviour in jail except for having a false wall in his cell, stealing a screwdriver bit, accessing a staff computer and manipulating Correctional Service of Canada letterhead.

The decision also said that since his unsuccessful application for parole last year he has told his family that he did indeed commit the crimes for which he was convicted. He had previously maintained his innocence, but his family has remained supportive, the decision said.

The panel said it is "satisfied that his release plan for day parole provides the structure and support necessary for you as you reintegrated into the community. You will continue with maintenance programming, you have clear goals for employment, and you have initiated contacts with various community groups for support."

His day parole, during which he must live at a halfway house, will run for six months.

The board doesn't consider Keats an "undue risk to society and that such a release would contribute to public protection by facilitating your reintegration as a law-abiding citizen." 

But, the panel added, "the board believes your risk would be undue if released on full parole; therefore, full parole is denied."

Keats will have various conditions that will extend into his parole after statutory release, including staying away from his victims and not accessing or having sexually explicit material. 

He was opposed to that, saying it could be a marital aid, but the panel rejected his argument, saying that Keats himself had said that in the time leading up to his offences he accessed and used pornography as one aspect of his "risky sexual behaviours. Any use of pornography could increase your risk to re-offend."

The panel included a condition that Keats' management team hadn't requested, telling him that he is not to be employed in any way that would put him in a position of trust over vulnerable individuals.

"The board believes you have betrayed the public trust by committing your current offences; it is important that you are not in any type of employment which could find you again in a position of ‘power' over vulnerable individuals, the panel wrote." If that were the case, your risk to re-offend could increase."

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