HOUSTON – Father John Keller repeatedly sexually abused a teenage boy at St. Justin Martyr for more than a year, an accuser said Tuesday.
Justin Davis is now the third person to publicly accuse Keller of abuse. He was a 15-year-old altar boy at the time, and Keller was supposed to be his mentor.
“The church was my family, it was the only place where I felt safe. It was the only place where I wasn’t emotionally or physically abused in my life,” Davis said. “I ran into the arms of my pastor, and he took advantage of that.
“There was a lot of time when the only people in that building were me and the pastor, and that’s when it happened. He fed me alcohol, and then he would, you know, grab me, and place my hand on him, and accuse me of being sexually turned on. Lean on me, rub himself on me. It happened weekly, if not daily, I mean, we were there a lot together, alone.”
Davis stopped going to church a little over a year later and tried to block out the abuse for 35 years until the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston published a list of accused priests.
When he saw Keller’s name on the list, with a single accuser, he wanted to help.
“All I wanted to do was to lend credibility, credence or support to the other victim who had come forward,” Davis said. “I figured another voice saying, ‘no, this also happened to me,’” would be helpful.
Davis spent hours detailing the abuse to a representative at the archdiocese. Months later, he said, he hasn’t heard back from them.
On Sunday, Keller’s replacement at Prince of Peace Catholic Church was announced and, according to people in the congregation, Keller was repeatedly praised.
“This guy was just allowed to retire, and praised from the pulpit after being removed,” Davis said.
“They started praising Father Keller and how grateful we are for his service and all the wonderful things that he’s done and all the wonderful characteristics of his personality,” said Eduardo Lopez de Casas, another abuse survivor who was in the congregation.
“Sitting there and hearing someone being praised that has victimized other people, it was incredible to me,” said Lopez De Casas, who also works at Prince of Peace. “I started shaking. I could not believe what I was hearing.”
“I don’t hate (Keller),” Davis said. “I do hate the church because of the way that they’ve reacted and the way that they continue to allow the children in their care to be abused, and they protect the abusers.”
KPRC reached out to the archdiocese several hours before this article was published, but did not hear back.