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Pediatrician arrested on child porn charges also worked at summer camps

SMALL FILE SIZE: Richard Keller, MD
Dr. Richard Keller

A Massachusetts pediatrician who was arrested last week on charges of receiving child pornography was involved for nearly three decades with Camp Joslin in Charlton, a beloved camp for boys with diabetes, and served at a summer camp in the Berkshires. Leaders of one camp planned to publish statements online in an effort to alert parents to the investigation.

Dr. Richard Keller, 56, former medical director of Phillips Academy in Andover and a Boston Children’s Hospital endocrinologist, was arrested Thursday at his Andover home, where prosecutors said they found at least 60 DVDs and 500 sexually explicit photographs of minors. Prosecutors say Keller placed orders totaling $2,695 between July 2009 and January 2011 from a foreign production company, including 50 movies, some of which were shipped to him at the Phillips student health center.

As authorities searched Keller’s home and worked to determine whether photographs found there were created by him or by a third party, prosecutors last week notified leaders of Camp Joslin and Camp Mah-Kee-Nac in Lenox, along with other organizations where he worked, of the arrest.

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Joslin Diabetes Center posted a statement on its website Sunday. The specialty hospital sold the camp in 2010 to the Barton Center for Diabetes Education, which has managed the facility since 2008 and runs a nearby camp for girls with diabetes.

Keller has been associated with the camp on and off since he trained in pediatric endocrinology, and for years he was a medical director there, said Joslin spokeswoman Mariellen Burns.

“This position involved working on-site and remotely, overseeing and acting as a resource to the doctors in the rotation covering various shifts at the camp,” she said in an e-mail.

The hospital was not aware of any complaints about Keller, Burns said.

Keller spent about four weeks at camp during some summers, sleeping in the doctor’s quarters, according to a former camper who later worked at the camp and asked not to be named because he remains involved in the camp community.

The doctor was a “lovable oddball-type” and “kind of a mainstay” at camp, said the former employee. He had never heard of Keller being involved in anything inappropriate.

David Kowal, a spokesman and former board chairman for the Barton Center, said the group was taking calls from any concerned parents. Neither Barton nor Joslin Diabetes Center had plans to reach out to families directly beyond posting a statement online explaining Keller’s involvement at the camp.

“We don’t want to hide anything from parents, but we also don’t want to make them alarmed over nothing,” Kowal said in an interview Sunday.

Kowal described Keller’s role since 2010 as “marginal” and declined to comment on Keller’s involvement before then, saying it was a matter for Joslin Diabetes Center to address. Keller worked at the camp for a three-day event this winter and for one week this past summer, Kowal said. The camp has a policy that no adult may be alone with a child.

“We do everything possible to protect the safety of the kids,” he said. “Their health and welfare is our number one priority.”

The former employee learned about Keller’s arrest from another alumnus and said he was dismayed by administrators’ failure to reach out more directly. He noted that few people look at the camp’s website this time of year. Because of its health focus, Camp Joslin keeps thorough records of campers, he said, and it frequently e-mails alumni during fund-raising drives.

Camp Mah-Kee-Nac director Walter Synalovski said in an e-mail Sunday that prosecutors had contacted the camp about Keller’s arrest and that he was not aware of any concerns regarding Keller’s time there.

Campers’ safety is “our first and most important priority, said Synalovski, who did not respond to requests for further comment Sunday.

Phillips Academy officials have sent multiple schoolwide e-mails, including to parents, students, and alumni, urging them to contact investigators with any pertinent information. Head of school John Palfrey sent a notice on Friday providing some explanation of why Keller had been dismissed last year from his role as medical director, a position he held for 19 years.

Keller had been disciplined several times starting in 1999, when he was reprimanded for accessing adult pornography on a school computer, Palfrey said. His contract was not renewed last year, Palfrey said.

Keller also has been placed on leave from his position as a part-time Harvard Medical School instructor and as a part-time doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital, where he saw patients with diabetes, growth disorders, and other conditions, mostly at satellite locations.

The hospital said Friday it had rescheduled patients who had appointments with Keller, but a spokesman would not say whether the hospital was contacting those treated in the past.

Christina DiIorio-Sterling, spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office, said the organizations contacted Thursday about Keller’s arrest were cooperative.

Keller is scheduled to be in court Wednesday for a hearing on whether he should be detained until trial.

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