TULSA, Okla. – A Pryor man was convicted Thursday in federal court for repeatedly sexually abusing two of his daughters for approximately 10 years, announced U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. In 2020 when the two victims were adults, they came forward to report the abuse.
A federal jury found Keith Duane Parnell, 49, guilty of three counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a minor under 12 in Indian Country and four counts of sexual abuse of a minor in Indian Country.
“For years, Keith Parnell violated the trust and innocence of two children,” said U.S. Attorney Clint Johnson. “This week, a federal jury evaluated the evidence and convicted Parnell of these grievous crimes. I am thankful for the jury’s service and for the exemplary work done in this case by the Pryor Police Department, FBI, and federal prosecutors Reagan Reininger and Chantelle Dial.”
“The details of this case are stomach-turning and serve as a prime example of how children can be victimized in the safety of their own homes,” said Edward Gray, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Oklahoma City Division. “We must do better as adults in protecting innocent children because even one being victimized by a predator is too many. A first step in helping someone who may be a victim: Call 1-800-CALL-FBI if you, or someone you know, has suffered sexual abuse.”
Parnell began sexually abusing the two minor victims at approximately 5 years of age. The victims described Parnell as a good dad who was trusted and was always “nice about the sexual abuse.” Over the next ten years, the abuse escalated and included Parnell repeatedly forcing the victims to perform oral sex on him and also penetrating the victims’ genitals with his penis and fingers. Neither child knew the other was also being abused. They had hoped by enduring the abuse, they were protecting their siblings. As a teenager, one of the victims tried to tell a relative about the sexual abuse. A witness for the prosecution, who was there the night the disclosure occurred, corroborated the victim’s account. At trial, the victim testified that multiple relatives told her it was too late for police to do anything and that it was a family embarrassment, eventually resulting in her recanting the allegations.
The two victims struggled to cope with the abuse they endured from Parnell, and as teenagers, each attempted suicide. Neither victim reported the abuse to authorities until they were adults.
Often in cases of child sexual abuse, victims may not come forward when they are young to disclose the abuse. Victims may not report for various reasons that may include: feelings of shame, fear of being blamed, fear of their abuser, fear of the break-up of their family, fear of others not believing them, pressure from others not to report the crimes, or they may look up to their abuser.
In August 2020, one of the victims described in detail the abuse both victims endured as children in a Facebook post. A Pryor Police detective was alerted about the post, began an investigation into the allegations, and interviewed the two victims and others.
In closing, the defense called into question the victims’ motives and surmised the claims were lies and mudslinging made up in an attempt to get back at Parnell due to a recent rift that was forming between Parnell and one of the victims. He also questioned why they did not go to authorities and why they maintained a relationship with their abuser.
Prosecutors argued in closing statements that the victims could be believed– that their first sexual experiences, starting at the age of five, were sexual assaults committed by their own father. They stated that much of the victims’ testimony was corroborated by witnesses for both the defense and prosecution. Prosecutors further described a home in chaos where the victims did not feel safe and lived in constant fear of losing their family or being punished. They were afraid of their parents but also afraid to lose their siblings, the parents they did have, and their home. Prosecutors stated the victims’ accounts were credible and asked the jury to find Parnell guilty.
The FBI and Pryor Police Department conducted the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Reagan V. Reininger and Chantelle D. Dial are prosecuting the case.