A Montreal judge today sentenced former baseball journalist Jonah Keri to a total of 21 months imprisonment on five separate counts related to domestic abuse of his ex-wife. Keri pled guilty to multiple counts of spousal and child abuse involving injury, following a sentencing hearing that took place on January 20, 2022. Judge Alexandre Dalmau said today that the repetitive nature of Keri’s violent acts was an aggravating factor in determining his sentence, and that a sentence that resulted in no incarceration was not supported by the facts of the case. Keri was sentenced to consecutive sentences of 18 months for each of the five counts in which he wife was the victim, with an additional 3 months adding on consecutively for the harm caused to his minor child.
Following an emotional victim impact statement from his ex-wife at the sentencing hearing in January, Keri spoke at length about the abuse that landed him in front of a judge, saying repeatedly that he accepted full responsibility for his actions, which included hitting and choking his then wife at various times, while also blaming a host of other factors, including his mental health medication, intermittent explosive disorder diagnosis, a lack of “tools” for dealing with life, and even his former profession, for his “complete inability to handle stress.” Keri detailed moments of lying on the floor crying, banging his head against the wall, while also claiming that he’d never been violent with any of his other partners. While Keri said that a combination of his mental health and other factors led to his violent behavior, it’s probably worth noting here that we have no reports of Keri ever exploding at work, at the ballpark, or around anyone other than those he lived with.
Upon cross examination, Keri admitted to putting on “a facade that I regret” in his former profession, going so far as to ask his ex-wife not to disclose any of the abuse she suffered, while blaming his “deep shame,” and denying the prosecution’s point that he did so to protect his image. At times, Keri also downplayed his former career, claiming that he was only a “well-known person locally,” rather than an international media personality practiced in appearing affable before others while hiding a relationship in which he terrorized his victim. In her victim impact statement, Keri’s ex-wife noted that she feared the strong stance he took about domestic violence in baseball would cause others not to believe that Keri was violent at home, saying:
“If someone who was so vocal about conjugal violence could be simultaneously abusing me, how could I trust that anyone else’s words and actions would be consistent?”
Keri made it a point, no doubt after much prepping by his lawyers, to say over and over that he, and he alone, was responsible for the abuse he inflicted on his ex-wife and child, but insisted that it wasn’t his very public arrest that caused him to seek help, but the gravity of the incidents of abuse that he perpetrated. That exchange prompted the Crown to list several other times Keri perpetrated serious physical, emotional, and verbal abuse on the victims and did not seek additional help. Keri also admitted that multiple members of his immediate family, including three of his four sisters and his 12-year old son from a previous marriage, no longer speak to him.
Keri’s responses to his lawyer’s questions were measured, often with Keri appearing emotional and sniffing back tears. But when the Crown prosecutor began to press Keri on specific incidents of abuse, he became agitated at the suggestion that he should have sought serious help sooner. At one point, Keri claimed the allegations of abuse against his child were caused by “playing too rough,” prompting the judge to ask about marks that were found on the child.
But in an agreed statement of facts, both parties acknowledged that Keri committed many violent acts over a specific six-month period, including head-butting his ex-wife and breaking her nose, threatening to cut their child out of her stomach with a kitchen knife, and threatening to throw her off a balcony. In his defense, Keri stated, “I wasn’t intending to kill her, I wouldn’t kill anyone. I haven’t killed one person.”
Prosecutors asked the court for a sentence of not less than a year in prison, asking the court to take notice of the fact that the agreed statement of facts contained no less than 17 paragraphs worth of incidents, several of which contained multiple incidents of abuse. Prosecutors also pointed out Keri’s ability to present one face to the public, while displaying a very different one at home, saying Keri was more preoccupied with hiding the abuse than seeking treatment. The prosecution also detailed several more incidents of violent abuse that Deadspin has chosen not to report on to protect the privacy of the victims. Keri’s attorney argued that he was “totally rehabilitated” after two years of mental health treatment, and that the former journalist had done everything in his power to ensure that his victim lives “in peace,”and that he had already been significantly punished by losing his former career and relationships, though it’s worth noting that Keri apparently presented 14 letters referencing his alleged good character to the court.
In laying out the reasoning behind his sentence, the judge commended Keri for seeking therapy and attempting to learn other methods of reacting to stressful situations, but also pointed out that Keri only sought help for his violent behavior “after his arrest and indictment.” The judge also rejected Keri’s argument that his social ostracization should lessen his ultimate sentence. Judge Dalmau also rejected Keri’s argument that he was “fully rehabilitated.”
Keri’s five separate prison sentences are to be served concurrently. He will also serve two years of probation following his release.