Former Echoing Meadows Employee Pleads Guilty To Sex Offense

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A Millfield man pleaded guilty Monday in Athens County Common Pleas Court to a reduced charge in a sex case involving a patient at an assisted-living facility.

Travis Keirns, 21, of Keirns Road, changed his plea in an agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor's Office. He pleaded guilty to gross sexual imposition, rather than the third-degree felony sexual battery charge he originally faced. Gross sexual imposition is a fourth-degree felony charge.

Keirns was charged after an investigation found that he had sexual contact with a 22-year-old for whom he was a caretaker at Echoing Meadows in Athens, according to previous Messenger reporting.

The facility houses patients with developmental disabilities.

The prosecution recommended a five-year community control sentence for Keirns, along with the requirement that he attend the Southeastern Probation Treatment Alternative, a community-based correctional facility.

According to the plea agreement, Keirns must also be evaluated by a community transition center, pay restitution of $484 and be registered as a Tier I sex offender.

"We came to this agreement based on the defendant's lack of a criminal history and after considering what it would take for the victim to testify," said Assistant Prosecutor Elizabeth Pepper. Pepper did not elaborate on the extent of the victim's disability.

The victim's mother attended the hearing, as she has for all hearings in the case, but the victim did not attend.

An 18-month underlying prison sentence would also be imposed as part of the prosecution's recommendation, but that sentence would only apply if Keirns did not complete the requirements of his community control.

Keirns would also receive a lifetime ban from employment with any facilities overseen by the Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 21, when Judge L. Alan Goldsberry will impose the official sentence on Keirns. The victim will also have an opportunity to prepare a statement for a victim's advocate to read to the court, or to make the statement herself before sentencing is handed down. Keirns could also make a statement if he chose to.

Keirns remains out of jail on a $15,000 bond.