“Goodbye, [expletive]. You deserve it.”
Those were the parting words of one of the preteen girls to a Waldorf man at his sentencing hearing on Tuesday for sexually abusing her and her friend in 2017. Former county substitute teacher Keith Allan Krikstan, 32, received a 25-year sentence from Judge H. James “Jay” West, with an additional 16 years of suspended time and lifetime registration as a sex offender upon his release.
Krikstan was first convicted of the sex abuse of one 12-year-old girl in April 2019, after it was revealed in January 2018 that he’d been conducting an inappropriate relationship through text messages and social media with a girl whose classes he sometimes substituted in at John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf. While detectives were investigating his offenses against the first girl, he was found in possession of naked photographs of another preteen girl he’d frequently babysat — a friend of the first victim — along with pornographic videos of other young girls not known to him. Krikstan was convicted of the offenses against the second girl in November.
At the hearing, the court heard from both victims, one of their mothers, Krikstan’s mother and Krikstan himself. In their victim impact statements, both girls recalled all the different ways their lives were affected by what had transpired.
“I was a vulnerable 12-year-old, and you took advantage of that,” said the girl who had ended her statement with a bang, whose abuse he was convicted of in April. “The thing that will always be with me ... is that I learned I can’t trust every person who comes into my life.”
“After this happened, I changed my whole life. I couldn’t do anything the way I did it before,” said the other, recalling how even her tastes in food and drink have changed since the investigation began. She’s distrustful of people in general now, the girl said, but especially of male authority figures. She once had a love of roller skating, but has lost that as well: It was her mother’s job at the skating rink in Waldorf that brought Krikstan into her life.
The incident left her with post-traumatic stress disorder, she said, for which she requires a service animal.
“I’m 15. I shouldn’t have a service dog. This shouldn’t happen to anyone,” she said.
The second victim’s mother, who uses a wheelchair, also has a service dog who sat at her side in court through the proceedings. As she began her statement Tuesday by saying how she’d considered Krikstan a close friend, her dog began whining softly: The woman explained that was her dog alerting her of pending distress. The dog continued making similar soft noises throughout their time in court.
“I never thought that I’d bring this into my household,” the woman said. As Krikstan had placed a secret camera in their bathroom, she said, both she and her daughter are now deeply afraid of using the restroom. It’s affected her son as well, she said, and indeed their whole family has felt some of the impact.
“I trusted [Krikstan] and I can’t believe he had different intentions,” the woman said. “... I can’t even go to the bathroom and feel safe.”
Assistant State’s Attorney Sarah Proctor spoke of the “unsung hero” in this case, a fellow student of the girls who had overheard a conversation he’d found concerning and decided to tell school administration. That boy’s decision, Proctor said, set the chain of events in motion that led to Krikstan’s arrest and indictment. She recalled the events of both cases, from the sexually explicit text messages and photos exchanged between Krikstan and the first victim to the discovery of the contents of his electronics that led to his other indictment.
“He is 30 years old, and this is not normal,” Proctor said before asking West for a 61-year sentence for Krikstan. “What else is there to call Keith Krikstan but a predator of children?”
In her statement in defense of her son, Krikstan’s mother, Joan, recounted to West and the court Keith’s life story. Keith has no prior record, she said, and is “kind and patient” and had “dated some very nice young ladies” prior to his arrest. She then said she wanted to address “some comments” made by other parties in the case. Over Proctor’s objections, West permitted her to speak.
“I did notice when my son walked in that [the victim] started giggling,” Joan Krikstan said, pointing to a security camera. “The camera is right up there, and you can see what I say is true. And then she came right up and started crying. So, I just wanted to make that comment.”
“How old is she?” West asked the woman.
“Oh, so you’re saying because she’s a child,” she responded.
Joan Krikstan then went on to say she came to believe her husband had had a relationship with the second victim’s mother during the summer of 2017, “when my son told me how much time he had been spending with [the victim’s mother and the family].... My feeling is if she was truly traumatized, why did she not resign from her position at the skating rink? She continued to work there for two weeks after she set my son up.”
In his first case, Krikstan was represented by private defense attorney Rudy Carrico and in his second by public defender Gerald Riviello, both of whom appeared in court with him Tuesday. Carrico played video clips of the first victim’s interview with police that he said show her demeanor as unbothered, as did her conduct in the courtroom that day. He reminded the court that of the 19 counts he had originally faced in the first trial, 18 had been deemed nolle prosequi, which is Latin for “we shall no longer prosecute.”
Juries are more emotional than those who work in the court system, Carrico said, as they’re not used to seeing many of the upsetting things those who work there see day in and day out. While he conceded that Krikstan had been “a pure dummy” in how he conducted himself with the youth, the pictures found in his possession in the first trial “are not pornographic photos.”
“This past summer at the beach, you probably saw more skin,” Carrico said of the photos.
Riviello emphasized that there had been no physical contact between Krikstan and the victims. Echoing Joan Krikstan’s statement, he also questioned why the family came to the skating rink after the original arrest if they were traumatized.
Krikstan said people who know him would call him “blunt, caring and big-hearted.” He cares about people, he said, and tries to console people who seem upset whenever possible.
“If I wanted any sort of sexual relationship with [the first victim], I would have gone to extensive lengths to substitute for her on a regular basis,” Krikstan said. “... [She] was not even present in every class.”
In regard to the second girl, he said, he’d placed a hidden camera in the home that he called “a phone charger” in the family room of the home in an attempt to catch his father, Gerald, having an affair with the victim’s mother that he suspected was going on. Krikstan said he had no idea how the camera ended up in the bathroom, much less with naked photos of the girl on it, and he destroyed them as soon as he knew they were there. Of a video of him coaching her through a sex act on a piece of fruit, he said her mother was there in the home that whole time.
“I don’t even know where to start,” West said before delving into announcing the sentence, holding up a photo of Krikstan in his police academy uniform given to the court. “I don’t know who this person is, or what happened to him, but he’s not who’s here right now.”
West said he’d been struggling with how to sentence Krikstan appropriately. On one hand, the judge said, there wasn’t physical contact between him and the victims. On the other, it was “criminal in its design” how he used one young girl to gain access to another, exploiting both all the while. He took exception to Joan Krikstan’s comments on the girls giggling, noting it’s very common for people who are exceedingly nervous to laugh or smile.
Ultimately, West said, Krikstan used technology “to surveil, exploit and prey upon young girls in the community.”
“I think the whole thing was wrong,” West said.