Ex-Homeland Security employee convicted of molesting young girls in Southern California
A former Department of Homeland Security employee was convicted Thursday, March 23, of molesting two girls in Irvine, inappropriately touching a third girl and destroying evidence prior to his arrest.
An Orange County Superior Court jury found Terry Edward Keegan, 59, guilty of a felony count of lewd acts with a child and misdemeanor counts of child annoyance, sexual battery, battery and destruction of evidence.
The jurors acquitted Keegan of a half-dozen other felonies, including continuous sexual abuse of a child and multiple other counts of lewd acts with a minor. Keegan — who had faced more than 20 years in prison if convicted as charged — now faces up to eight years behind bars.
One of the girls lived with Keegan and his girlfriend, according to prosecutors, while the other two were her friends. One was 8 years old when the abuse began.
The first accusation surfaced in 2016, according to court documents, when a girl told a doctor that Keegan would inappropriately touch her when she visited her friend. Those allegations were apparently not investigated at the time.
In 2021, the girl who lived with Keegan and another friend, both of whom were 16 at the time, were hanging around Keegan during Spring Break, according to prosecutors. The friend told her mother that Keegan had made inappropriate comments, touched her buttocks and insisted on taking the girls shopping for bathing suits.
When contacted by authorities, the girl who lived with Keegan said he routinely slapped her “jokingly” on the buttocks and photographed her in bathing suits, prosecutors said, and recalled that years earlier he had slipped his tongue into her mouth on one occasion while kissing her goodnight.
During her closing arguments earlier this week, Deputy District Attorney Juliet Oliver told jurors that Keegan groomed the girls in order to “normalize” his sexual behavior.
“The defendant knew exactly what he was doing each and every time,’ the prosecutor said.
Keegan denied the allegations, prosecutors said, but after being contacted by police began to routinely check a law enforcement database for any warrants taken out against him. Police later found a broken hard drive and broken USB memory sticks in a trash can outside Keegan’s home, prosecutors added.
Keegan’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Jay Moorhead, denied that Keegan’s behavior was sexual. Keegan loved to shop, loved photography and would playfully throw the girls around when they were in the pool, the defense attorney said.
“He is a quirky guy,” Moorhead said. “Could that be misinterpreted? Sure, of course it could.”
Keegan couldn’t recall ever kissing the girl with his tongue, his attorney said, and denied destroying any evidence.
Authorities — at both the time of his arrest and in court records — did not specify what duties Keegan carried out during his tenure with the Department of Homeland Security.
Keegan is scheduled to return to court for sentencing on April 19.