A former recruiter was sentenced Tuesday to a maximum of 60 years in prison for sexually assaulting two minors, according to Michigan county court judgments provided to Army Times.
An Isabella County circuit court judge handed Keith C. McKern Jr., 44, two 25-year prison sentences for two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with victims under the age of 13.
McKern received additional time on his prison term for four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a relation and two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct using force or coercion.
During sentencing, McKern was handed another 16 months for an attempted escape from county jail that was foiled by corrections officers in May.
As it stands, McKern is still technically in the Army. None of the allegations against him involved his work as an Army recruiter.
“Staff Sgt. Keith McKern was immediately suspended from recruiting duties on Feb. 4, 2019, the same day the allegations were made," said Lisa Ferguson, public affairs director for U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
“While he was a Department of the Army selected recruiter, he had no other allegations of misconduct and has not been court-martialed,” Ferguson added. "He is in the process of being administratively discharged from the Army based on the civilian convictions.”
McKern enlisted in January 2005 and was last assigned to the Bay City Recruiting Company, in Michigan.
“If convicted on one of the sexual battery charges, it would have been mandatory life in prison,” one attorney said. “So the stakes were extremely high.”
He deployed twice to Iraq, military records provided to Army Times show. His first deployment was from May 2007 to July 2008 and his second rotation lasted from June 2005 to January 2006.
He received the Combat Action Badge during his time in Iraq. McKern’s other awards include three Army Commendation Medals, Good Conduct Medals and a Korea Defense Service Medal.
He also obtained the Army recruiter badge and the driver and mechanic badge with wheeled vehicle component bar.
William J. Shirley, a criminal defense attorney for McKern, did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday morning.
McKern accepted a plea deal in October, but has been held in jail for nearly a year. In May, McKern plotted an escape attempt along with another inmate, according to local media.
Corrections officers at the county jail said they foiled McKern’s plan after staff found notes on his cellmate detailing the method of escape, the Michigan Morning Sun reported.
McKern told officers that the plan was theoretical and that he was only following his military training to prepare for an escape if ever captured, according to the local newspaper.
The plan was for the cellmate, who was scheduled to soon be released from jail, to scout the location of cameras outside the facility before coming back later to cut a hole in the roof of the jail and lower a rope ladder down to McKern, according to court records reviewed by the Michigan Morning Sun.
Local law enforcement first began an investigation on McKern after one of his victims complained to an adult about being assaulted by the man, according to Michigan Live. That adult then notified the authorities.
The victims’ identities and relationships to McKern are being withheld to protect their privacy. Army officials have stated that none of the victims met McKern as part of his duties as a recruiter.