Former state trooper sentenced on civil rights charge

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

A former Alabama State Trooper will spend one year in federal prison after he was sentenced by a federal judge on March 28 on charges of depriving a woman of her civil rights by coercing her to perform sex acts.

U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Hopkins sentenced 51-year-old Helena resident Keith Wilson Kelley to one year in prison followed by one year of supervised probation after his release. The term was the maximum allowed for Kelley’s misdemeanor charge of depriving a person’s civil rights under the color of the law or while acting in the official capacity of a police officer.

The charge was tied to a 2007 incident in Pelham, according to court documents. U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance gave this account of the incident:

“Kelley was behind the young woman in line at a self-service check-out at a discount department store in Pelham in 2007.

He saw that she did not scan and pay for all the items she took from the store. Kelley followed her to her car, showed his badge then took her name and phone number. Kelley told the woman that he would see how the store wanted to handle the matter, and would be in touch. He later called her, said the store was leaving the matter to him and that he wanted her to meet him at a gas station.

Kelley was in his patrol car when the woman met him. He searched her for a wire, told her she would be convicted of a felony, but that he could make the case go away. He then coerced her into performing sex acts.

The woman reported the incident to Pelham police.”

Kelley was fired from his position with the Alabama Department of Public Safety shortly after the incident was reported.

According to court documents filed by the prosecution, Kelley “brazenly propositioned at least four other women after issuing them traffic tickets in his capacity as a public official.”

Kelley’s case was investigated by the FBI and the Pelham Police Department, and was prosecuted by U.S. Attorney Staci Cornelius.

According to Shelby County Circuit Court documents, Kelley pleaded guilty in 2011 to one count of misdemeanor sexual misconduct related to the 2007 incident, and was sentenced to two years of probation.