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For six years, three Wisconsin brothers allegedly sexually assaulted their underage sisters—and police say the siblings’ father did nothing to stop the incestuous abuse at the family’s filthy South Milwaukee home.
James Keene, 29, Elijah Keene, 27, and Josiah Keene, 20, were charged this month with eight counts of child sexual assault, according to a criminal complaint obtained by Oxygen.com. Their father, Brian Keene, 62, has been charged with four counts of failure to act on the sexual assault of a child, and four counts of child neglect.
Police said that James, Elijah, and Josiah had performed a litany of sexual acts on three of their younger sisters for years. They told police the brothers openly masturbated in their presence, molested them, forced them to perform oral sex on them, and sometimes attempted vaginal penetration.
The brothers would often enter their sister’s rooms in the middle of the night while they slept, the complaint stated. The household abuse had become so routine that one of the victims told police that “she often wakes up naked in rooms, other than the rooms that she fell asleep in.”
The father, Brian, blamed the abuse on his sons’ “raging hormones.” He suspected the assaults were happening but didn’t act to stop it, according to the criminal complaint.
The abuse began around six years ago, investigators said, around the time the family’s mother left the 62-year-old father. One of the victims, who are now between 10 and 19, told authorities, “she was touched on her vagina and breasts … since she was in diapers.”
The state of the home where the alleged sexual assaults took place, police said, was horrific. In the criminal complaint, investigators painted a horrendous picture of the the family’s living conditions in South Milwaukee.
Authorities described a dysfunctional den of grime and garbage that was “caked with dirt,” smelled like a “backed up sewer,” and was reportedly overrun by mice and pests. There was mold, exposed wires, and “nails sticking up in the kitchen floor.” Children told authorities the father he urinated in plastic bottles and used a makeshift toilet out of cat litter in the garage, which he forced his children to clean.
The family’s Australian Shepherd was also allegedly in poor health, completely hairless, and infested. The dog “had fleas and would bite its hair off, even if the fleas were gone,” the complaint stated.
The house wasn’t heated, had little food, and police noted the children’s clothes had holes and were unwashed. Children living in the house hadn’t been to school in years. The father told police he hadn’t taken them to a doctor in a decade, either. It’s unknown exactly how many children were living in the house at the time of the Keene family’s arrests.
One of the children, an 11-year-old boy, purportedly stepped on a screw in the home, cut himself deeply, and let a pus-filled infection fester that police observed during their forensic interview with the victim. He now has a limp.
Eventually, the children were forced to run away because of the “unsafe” conditions. When the father reported them missing, police investigated, and learned of the chronic abuse.
Elijah, the middle brother, confessed to the abuse during police interviews. He told police, he began sexually assaulting his sisters “by accident” when he was 12 or 13, but that the abuse had ended about a year and a half ago.
“He stated that at the beginning he didn’t realize what he was doing was sexual intercourse,” the criminal complaint said.
“He tried to stop, but by this time he was addicted,” police said.
The 27-year-old told investigators that he had assaulted his three sisters “multiple times.” He’s being held on a $100,000 bond.
The Keenes will appear in Milwaukee County court for a preliminary hearing on April 23. The three brothers, James, Elijah, and Josiah, face a total maximum of 380 years in prison if convicted on all counts, according to court documents obtained by Oxygen.com. Their father, Brian, could be sentenced to 93 and a half years in prison if he’s found guilty on all charges.
Nathan Opland-Dobs, one of the public defenders representing the Keenes, did not respond to Oxygen.com's request for comment.
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