Baseball writer Jonah Keri sentenced for assaulting, threatening wife

“The repetitive nature of the violent acts is an aggravating circumstance. This is not a case involving an isolated act,” Judge Alexandre Dalmau said.

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Jonah Keri, a former journalist who covered baseball and authored a book about the Montreal Expos, was sentenced on Wednesday to a 21-month prison term for repeatedly assaulting and threatening his ex-wife during their brief marriage.

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Quebec Court Judge Alexandre Dalmau said he had to weigh Keri’s efforts at rehabilitation since he was charged over the importance of denouncing the crimes Keri committed over a long period of time. Keri admitted to committing 14 incidents of violence against the victim between July 5, 2018, and Jan. 27, 2019, a period of just under seven months.

“The repetitive nature of the violent acts is an aggravating circumstance. This is not a case involving an isolated act, but rather recurrent conduct by the offender over a long period. This observation must absolutely be taken into consideration in sentencing. The court is therefore in the delicate situation where the appropriate balance must be struck between the objectives of denunciation and deterrence and those related to the rehabilitation of the offender,” the judge said.

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Much of the abuse occurred while the victim was pregnant with their child. Last year, Keri pleaded guilty to simple assault, armed assault, and assault causing bodily harm to his now former spouse, as well as to having threatened and harassed her.

“During these incidents the offender punched the victim in the knees, hit her on the head and on her ears, pushed her, dragged her on the ground, slapped her, bit her, spat in her face, head-butted her, shook her , pulled her hair and grabbed her by the shoulders while threatening to throw her off a balcony,” Dalmau said. “During one incident he threw various objects at her. During another, he took a knife and threatened to remove the baby she was carrying in her womb.”

The woman’s nose was fractured when Keri head-butted her.

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“In (a statement made in court in January), she describes the portrait of a woman who is a prisoner of the cycle of conjugal violence: the isolation, the control exercised by the offender over several aspects of her life, the manipulation, the loss of self-esteem, the shame, and the difficulty she now has trusting others,” Dalmau said. “The offender’s violence has caused her intense and chronic stress, leading her to suffer from panic attacks, hair loss, rashes, eating disorders, sleep disorders, nightmares, flashbacks, and hyper-vigilance. Still today, she fears for her safety and that of her child.”

Keri presented more than a dozen letters of support when sentencing arguments were made in January. But the judge said the letters did little to affect his decision.

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“Several describe how they were shocked when they found out about the charges because they did not believe the offender was capable of such violent behavior towards a spouse. That statement leads to three disturbing observations. First, it shows how the offender is able to construct an image of himself that is very different from reality,” the judge said while reading from his 20-page decision. “Next, one wonders who would have believed the victim if she had not carefully documented the violent incidents. Finally, (the letters) are also a perfect illustration of the insidious nature of marital violence; it is a tragedy experienced in private by women from all walks of life that is unfortunately all too infrequently reported.”

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Keri, 47, kept his eyes fixed to the floor of the courtroom as the judge read from his decision. He was taken into custody after Dalmau delivered the sentence.

The Crown had asked for a prison term of at least 12 months, while defense lawyer Jeffrey Boro argued for a sentence his client could serve in the community.

Boro pointed to how, shortly after his arrest in 2019, Keri underwent an eight-week intensive psychiatric treatment program. He followed that up with weekly psychotherapy sessions from December 2019 to June 2020 and successfully completed the YMCA’s 30-hour Living without violence program.

pcherry@postmedia.com

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