Father pleads guilty to locking his child up in her room, depriving her of food and abusing her

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By Tom Wilmoth

    The Bedford County man accused of abusing, assaulting and injuring a 14-year-old child told a Bedford Circuit Court judge he didn’t have anything to say after  pleading guilty Friday to four felony charges in the case.

    “I don’t want to say anything right now, sir,” he told the judge.
    Judge James Updike proceeded to find Wesley A. Keen, 48, guilty of  child abuse and neglect, abduction and two counts of unlawful wounding.
    In laying out the facts of the case, Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Ayers recounted what investigators found when they assisted Child Protective Service on a welfare check of Keen’s Sunnydale Court residence on April 23.
    Ayers stated that while no one was there when investigators arrived, Sherry Ruth Keen, Wesley Keen’s wife, arrived later and opened the home. Ayers said investigators found the teen behind a padlocked door. She said there was no carpet on the floor and there was a strong smell of urine.
    At first, Ayers said Sherry Keen was uncooperative.
    Ayers said the child was “very small” for her age, about 70  pounds, and upon investigation told law enforcement that she had been beaten with a belt and kicked by Wesley Keen with steel-toed boots. Ayers said the girl’s fingers were disfigured because at least one had been bent back and broken by Keen.
    Ayers said the victim had been deprived of food and water—only being fed once a day—and did not have access to a bathroom while she was padlocked in her room. Because of that, Ayers said Wesley Keen punished her when she urinated on the carpet in her room, punching the girl and rubbing her nose in the urine-stained carpet.
    Her daily intake of food usually consisted of a cheeseburger and a bottle of water. She was allowed out of her room to take a shower.
    Ayers said a forensic exam noted that the victim’s body mass was in the bottom 5 percent of where she should have been.
    The girl, who is now in foster care and has gained 23 pounds, turned 14 years old on the day she was freed from the home, according to Ayers.
    Wesley Keen is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 9 at 1:30 p.m. His wife pleaded guilty last week to two felonies in connection with the case.
    In prior court proceedings, Ayers said the Keens said that they kept the teen locked in her room because she stole food.
    Ayers also said during a bond hearing for Wesley Keen that investigators found a notebook in which the girl had written “I will do as I am told or I will be punished.”
    At that hearing, Ayers said the girl, when questioned, said Wesley Keen beat her with his steel toe boots and grabbed her by her hair and threw her around the room. The teen said she chipped her teeth when he hit her in the face with his class ring.
    “She was locked up like a prisoner in her own home,” Ayers said at that hearing.