Theatre director arrested in 1991

Island resident and executive director of the Youth Theatre Northwest has been accused of raping one young woman last month and groping her sister. Court documents also show that he pled guilty to a similar charge 16 years ago for an incident that occurred with his then-girlfriend’s niece.

Benjamin David Keylin, 57, was charged by the King County Prosecutor’s Office with third-degree rape of an 18-year-old and communicating with a minor, who is 16, for immoral purposes on Tuesday, Dec. 11.

In 1991, Keylin was arrested for the attempted rape of an ex-girlfriend’s niece. Keylin had been dating the victim’s aunt sporadically for some time before the incident occurred at an anniversary celebration for a local radio station in March 1991.

The victim refused his demands for a kiss and sex, but he persisted. The victim fought back and told a friend and her aunt about the assault right away. Keylin was arrested and charged with third-degree rape. He made an Alford plea, however, and the charge was amended to fourth-degree assault. An Alford plea is when a defendant does not admit guilt but concedes there is enough evidence that a jury would probably convict.

Keylin received a deferred sentence and was ordered to spend 15 days in the county jail, complete 240 hours of community service and stay out of trouble for a year. He also had to pay $259 in fines. Becky Gifford, who works with the county prosecuting attorney’s office, said Keylin did not have to register as a sex offender because fourth-degree assault convictions do not require it. If convicted of the current charges, however, Gifford said Keylin would have to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

Court papers in the current case state that Keylin had been dating the victims’ mother. The rape victim’s name has not been released by authorities, but she is a resident of Bellevue. According to the charging papers, the rape happened in Keylin’s Island condo in mid-November.

The young woman was sitting on Keylin’s couch watching TV when he sat down next to her, pulling her close to him. Keylin then suggested that the victim “let him do this” and that he said he would get her text-messaging privileges back, court documents allege. The young woman had apparently lost those privileges from her parents recently.

The victim, who is diagnosed with a mild form of autism, did not immediately tell her parents about the rape but did later when she found out that her sister had also been the focus of unwanted attention from Keylin. The man had been harassing and touching both teens for some time before the rape occurred, documents allege.

The victim’s father then took her for a medical exam. The young woman told the nurse she had sexual intercourse with Keylin though she had tried to push him away. The case was forwarded to Child Protection Services, which later contacted the Bellevue police.

The victim’s mother called it off with Keylin on Dec. 2 after she heard what had happened, telling him he’d gone to far.

A phone conversation recorded by investigating officers indicates Keylin showed some remorse for what he had done, promised it would never happen again and asked the victim to forgive him.

“It just wasn’t a good idea,” Keylin reportedly stated over the phone to the victim the afternoon he was arrested. “That’s all I’m going to say, and it’s never going to happen gain. And I apologize.”

“Sometimes people make bad choices. And they’re very sorry for it, and we can only hope that people who are really spiritual like you can forgive them and that it’s not a permanent thing. That’s what I’m asking you, to please forgive me.”

Keylin was arrested around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 6, and later booked into King County Jail. He was later released on $100,000 bail.

Youth Theatre Northwest staff stated and Bellevue police confirmed the victim’s were not theater students or actors.

Keylin was immediately put on administrative leave after his arrest and later fired by Youth Theatre Northwest on Dec. 12.

Islander John Gordon Hill, who works with the theater, said everybody was shocked by the news. A routine background check on Keylin at the time he was hired in January 2003 failed to report the previous charges, he said.

“It’s kind of alarming,” Hill said. “I didn’t even realize that was a possibility,” he said of the results of the background check. “The system let us down.”

King County court records show 15 civil and criminal cases associated with Keylin. The cases include the previous rape charge from 1991, divorces in 1991 and 2002, a civil lawsuit regarding domestic violence in 1991, three traffic infractions and a lawsuit against the management of his condo’s building in 2006.

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