John Keehan: Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor Have Been Admitted, Established or Determined to Be Credible

John Keehan

Ordained: 1967

  • 1966: St. John Berchmans, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1967: Ordained
  • 1967-1974: St. Basil, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1974-1979: Our Lady of Good Counsel, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1979-1980: St. Benedict, Blue Island, IL (CHI)
  • 1980-1983: St. Thomas of Canterbury, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1981-1983: Truman College, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1983-1985: Our Lady of Lourdes, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1985-1990: Queen of Angels, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1990-1991: Holy Innocents, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 1991-2004: St. Ann, Chicago, IL (CHI)
  • 2004: On Leave
  • 2005-2010: Other Assignments (CHI); Cardinal Stritch Retreat House, Mundelein, IL (CHI)
  • 2011-2019: Unknown
Fr. John James Keehan Documents
Fr. John James Keehan Timeline

Allegations involving Fr. John James Keehan’s sexual abuse of children were first made in the 1960s. In the 1990s, Fr. Keehan was placed on monitoring then placed back in ministry. In 2002, a survivor’s sister accused Fr. Keehan of sexually abusing her minor brother from approximately 1967 to 1974 at St. Basil in Chicago and on one occasion holding the minor at gunpoint while he sexually abused him. Fr. Keehan was removed from public ministry in 2002. Fr. Keehan is included in the Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of Archdiocesan Priests with Substantiated Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with Minors. Fr. Keehan was believed to be living in a Catholic Charities nursing home in Palos Park, as of 2012, however, his whereabouts, status as a priest, and whether he has access to children are unknown.

More than 20 years after allegations first surfaced, a priest who allegedly held a gun to a child’s head is still causing problems for the Archdiocese, including perusing children’s websites and not adhering to monitoring protocols.

Allegations against Fr. John Keehan date back to the late 1960s. When the Archdiocese learned of the allegations in the 1990s, Keehan agreed to be monitored. His monitors included two priests who lived with Keehan full-time, and a nun. He was not to have any unsupervised contact with minors. Parents at the school and parishioners were not notified of the allegations or the fact that their priest was under 24-hour surveillance.

The monitoring lasted until 1995 when the Review Board determined it was no longer necessary, although board members wondered what their civil liability was in these matters and asked if they could be sued.In 1998, Keehan was awarded a new term as pastor of St. Ann’s. In 2002, a woman came forward and said that Keehan had raped her now-deceased brother at gunpoint. While the review board did not consider the allegations credible, Keehan was removed from ministry.

In 2005, Cardinal George removed Keehan’s faculties.

By 2009, investigators for the Archdiocese said that they believe that Keehan did not act violently towards minors, but found several witnesses who claimed that he was inappropriate around children. The Archdiocese implemented monitoring protocols, including keeping tabs on the priest’s internet activity.

In 2010, Keehan’s computer was searched and he was discovered frequenting children’s websites. His only punishment was the requirement to take a computer class, so that he would not make that “mistake” again.

Keehan is still a priest and lives at a Catholic Charities nursing home in Palos Park, IL.


6/01/1966        Deacon, St. John Berchmans

4/27/1967        Ordained

1967 – Administrator at St. Basil’s (Parish school had approx. 1,071 children)

1974 – Our Lady of Good Counsel (Parish school had approx.197 children)

1979- Associate, St. Benedict Parish

1980 – St. Thomas of Canterbury (Parish school had approx. 158 children)

1981 – Chaplain, Truman College

1983 – Our Lady of Lourdes (Parish school had approx. 450 children)

1986 – Queen of Angels (Parish school had approx. 405 children)

1991 – Holy Innocents (Parish school had approx. 215 children)

1991- Pastor, St. Ann (Parish school had approx. 300 children)

11/1992           Placed under monitoring. His primary monitor was Rev. Tom Millea who moved into St. Ann’s Parish as a full-time monitor. Principal of St. Ann’s, Sr. Michael Marie Franzak, was asked to help monitor as well (AOC 016481). This included no unsupervised contact with minors. (AOC 016488-016489)

7/14/1992        Letter from Keehan to victim apologizing for what he did (AOC 016507)

04/03/1993      Professional Fitness Review Board found there was reasonable cause to suspect that Keehan had engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor (AOC 016550)

8/23/1993        Fr. Rosemeyer states that Keehan was “overly friendly with” the girl and he had knowledge of them being alone in the rectory room with the doors shut (AOC 016589)

9/18/1993        Review Board meeting saying, “it is reasonable to allow J.K. to remain in ministry as a pastor” with continuing supervision (AOC 016598)

Penal Report Imposing Restrictions and Directive on Rev. John Keehan, “In order to preclude scandal arising from allegations of sexual misconduct with a minor… He is allowed to remain in his ministerial assignment, but restrictions will continue to be imposed on him.” (AOC 016612)

2/19/1994        Review Board “questioned whether the Board can be sued at all in that it is in actuality a group which advices the decision-maker in these matters . . .” (AOC 016615)

12/12/1994      Letter from O’Malley to Bernardin stating, “[Keehan] says it took place after she had graduated from high school.” “State of limitations has run and her case could be dismissed.” “We have privately talked to Keehan about the possibility of him voluntarily resigning the parish to avoid a public clamor.” (AOC 016628)

11/18/1995      Memo from Review Board recommending the monitoring be discontinued, but that he should continue to be restricted from being alone with minors (AOC 016643)

04/18/1998      Memo from Review Board at George’s request for reconsideration “the Board does not believe children are at risk, and therefore recommends that [Keehan] be reappointed for a second term as pastor.” (AOC 16682)

06/26/2002      Letter dated 06/26/02 written by sister of Victim JH to Cardinal George says Keehan raped her now-deceased brother at gunpoint at St. Basil in the early 1970s while JH was in high school. (AOC 016765)

7/20/2002        Keehan voluntarily resides temporarily at Koenig Hall, not resigned as pastor. (AOC 016772)

9/7/2002          Memo depicting Keehan’s response to the allegation of abuse from the sister of an alleged victim who is deceased. Keehan “categorically denies all allegations of sexual misconduct.” (AOC 016776)

10/5/2002        Review Board’s First Stage Review finds there insufficient information to make a finding of reasonable cause in the claims that Keehan engaged in the repeated sodomization of a minor and threatened him by holding a gun to his head. They request additional information. (AOC 016780-84)

11/7/2002        Letter from Cardinal George accepting the Review Board’s determination. (AOC 016788)

2/1/2003          Review Board’s Second Stage Review recommending that the case be closed because it involves a third party allegation and Keehan is already withdrawn. (AOC 016794-98)

3/7/2003          Cardinal George accepting the Review Board’s determination that they are unable to make recommendations because the alleged victim is deceased. (AOC 016803)

7/31/2003        Letter stating that Cardinal George has forwarded the case of Keehan to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (AOC 016828)

9/17/2003        Keehan’s Individual Specific Protocols. (AOC 016843)

4/1/2004          Memo outlining the CDF’s decision. The CDF will not hold a trial because they cannot determine if the person was a minor when the misconduct occurred. The CDF directs Cardinal George to determine the restrictions to be placed on Keehan’s ministry. (AOC 016868-70)

11/22/2004      Cardinal George letter notifying Keehan his term as pastor of St. Ann Parish has expired. (AOC 016886)

7/22/2005        Cardinal George’s Disciplinary Decree for Keehan. Keehan is prohibited from engaging in public ministry, presenting himself as a priest, or acting as an agent of the Archdiocese of Chicago. (AOC 016907-11)

1/13/2009        Investigative report detailing Keehan’s time at St. Basil’s. The investigator finds no evidence that Keehan acted violently towards minors, however there are some questionable behaviors attributed to Keehan by witnesses. (AOC 16939-48)

9/2010             Individual Specific Protocols reviewed. Keehan had his computer taken away after accessing numerous social networking sites on a regular basis. Most sites were child oriented. (AOC 016980-86)

1/2013             Individual Specific Protocols reviewed. It is recommended that Keehan enroll in a technology course so he cannot continue to rely on his “ignorance” of technology to avoid accountability for his internet and computer use. (AOC 017014-36)