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Shirley official allegedly took lurid photos, bugged offices

By Peter Schworm and Jack Nicas
Globe Staff | Globe Correspondent / June 16, 2010

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SHIRLEY — In stunning allegations that appalled residents and town leaders, authorities accused Town Administrator Kyle J. Keady yesterday of planting a video camera in the ceiling of the women’s restroom in Town Hall, secretly recording conversations in his office, and bugging his assistant and the town accountant.

Keady, a 46-year-old who has been town administrator for seven years, compiled “hundreds, perhaps thousands, of photo images’’ taken with hidden cameras, authorities said. Police said they seized hard drives from Keady’s home and office Monday that contained numerous “close-up photos of various body parts’’ of visitors to his office.

The lurid allegations came to light as Keady was arraigned in Ayer District Court on charges of illegal recording, illegal possession of a recording device, and video recording a person in a state of nudity. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In court records made public yesterday, authorities described the bizarre case as an apparent mix of paranoia and perversion and said Keady had been illicitly photographing and recording people for at least nine months.

They said Keady admitted to placing a recorder in a plant on his female assistant’s desk earlier this month to “educate’’ himself because he did not trust many people. And, authorities said, he confessed to hiding a camera in the women’s bathroom Monday afternoon, saying it “was usually quiet enough to enter the women’s room undetected.’’

Prosecutors also accused Keady of breaking into his assistant’s home to photograph her undergarments and using a hidden baby monitor to record the town accountant.

“We allege that this defendant went to extraordinary extents to commit troubling violations of privacy against his fellow employees,’’ said Middlesex District Attorney Gerard T. Leone Jr., describing the secret recordings as “extremely disturbing violations of his position of authority.’’

Prosecutors said Keady recorded conversations with selectmen and other town employees with pens equipped with a small camera and a recorder. He allegedly hid pens in a flower pot in his assistant’s office and directly above a stall in the women’s bathroom.

Keady was released on $2,500 bail and ordered to stay away from Town Hall and the alleged victims.

Dudley Goar, a Concord lawyer who represented Keady at his arraignment, declined to comment on the charges, but said Keady has close ties to the community and readily cooperated with police.

“He’s been a public servant for a long time,’’ he said. Goar said Keady looked “very upset’’ about the charges.

Goar said Keady worked in the state treasurer’s office in the 1980s, and town employees recalled him as a former selectman.

Keady is divorced and has a 13-year-old son, Goar said. Town Hall stands on Keady Way, named in honor of his father, a longstanding local official.

Kyle J. Keady could not be reached for comment. No one answered the door at his home, and his listed phone number had been disconnected.

He was set to become town administrator in Pepperell in August 2009, but Keady and town officials could not agree on a contract. He applied for the town administrator position in Ayer but was not chosen.

News of the charges quickly rippled through this small town northwest of Boston, and selectmen were scheduled to meet tomorrow in a private session to discuss Keady’s future.

“Quite honestly, I don’t view this type of behavior as any different than child molestation,’’ said Selectman Armand Deveau. “When you invade someone’s privacy on that intimate a level, it can’t be described as anything but molestation.’’

The board had been slated to review Keady’s performance Monday evening, but canceled the meeting after learning of the investigation.

Deveau said he met with Town Hall employees yesterday to discuss the situation. Keady’s assistant and the town accountant came to work but left early.

“They were very distraught,’’ he said.

The town accountant, Bobbi Jo Colburn, declined comment. A knock at the door of Keady’s assistant went unanswered. .

Holly Haase, the town’s collector, said she had worked with Keady since the 1980s, when he was in the assessor’s office.

“It’s totally, completely shocking to turn around and find out this is happening in our small town,’’ Haase said.

Deveau said that Keady had full access to school buildings and that the town planned to changed the locks and electronic pass cards.

Some residents said the allegations defied belief.

“I was shocked,’’ said Legrant Blackwell, a 68-year-old retired mail carrier who has lived in Shirley for 17 years. “I thought the world of him. I still think the world of him. He ain’t guilty till they prove it.’’

But prosecutors said Keady confessed to the secret recordings and showed where he had hidden cameras in Town Hall.

Shirley’s town counsel notified police last week about the suspected recordings, and on Monday police executed a search warrant at Keady’s office. Police confronted Keady with allegations of illegal recordings, including an August 2009 conversation with Selectwoman Kendra Dumont. Keady allegedly told police he had recorded numerous conversations without the consent or knowledge of the other party but said he was unaware he was violating any laws.

“Mr. Keady stated that he did this for his own benefit and ‘education,’ as well as to protect himself, as there were a lot of things going on in town,’’ police stated.

When police searched Keady, they discovered a ring of nine flash drives and two pens equipped with small cameras.

When interviewed by police, Keady’s assistant said she had discovered a digital recorder in a flower pot on her desk June 2. She told police that she had confronted him at his home that night and that he admitted to hiding the recorder, saying he was not sure “about who was on his side.’’

Police went to her home to retrieve the device, and when they returned, found a baby monitor in Keady’s briefcase. When police pressed him on the location of the transmitter, he said it was in the town accountant’s office.

Keady then directed police to the ceiling tile that concealed the recorder. Police found that a power cord ran from the recorder to Keady’s office, where it was hidden by wall maps.

Keady said he had recorded Colburn because he wanted to know if she was discussing his potential job in Pepperell, where she was also applying for a job.

A subsequent search of his home, police said, revealed large quantities of pornography, including covert photographs and logs of illicit observations he made of women and co-workers.

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com; Jack Nicas at jnicas@globe.com.

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