Bail denied: Alleged abductor had booked hotel room

A judge denied bail Friday for James Kevin Key, the Palmyra man charged with attempted abduction of a toddler at Charlottesville Fashion Square mall on November 24. At issue was his rental of a hotel room for that evening.

Opposing bond, Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford repeatedly told Judge Frank Somerville that Key had a hotel room booked for the same night that he allegedly attempted to kidnap a two-year-old girl who was with her parents at Charlottesville Fashion Square.

If Lunsford was attempting to imply unspeakable horrors, defense counsel Bonnie Lepold offered a far more benign reason for the hotel– that he didn't want to make a post-party drive from Charlottesville back home to Palmyra, a Fluvanna County village about half an hour away. And she also explained Key's presence at the mall.

"The reason he was at the mall was to purchase clothing for a party," said Lepold, without offering any details about the alleged party during a videolink hearing at Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail before a Culpeper judge.

Lepold also argued that Key, 46, has a medical condition that may have caused his alleged criminal actions. She says he has been under a doctor's care since 2002 for seizures that render him "functional but not rational and reasonable."

"Many members of the community have witnessed these seizures," said Lepold, noting how Key had once been at a basketball game when a seizure left him "catatonic and staring" and– forgetting that he was the referee– trying to play defense in the game.

While Lepold requested that Key be granted house arrest in the residence in which he lives with his father, Lunsford disagreed.

"Immediately after the incident, he's saying, 'I was trying to move her out of the way,'" said Lunsford, disputing Lepold's description of Key as being "catatonic" and not remembering what happens when he has a seizure. "He's a danger to the community," said Lunsford.

"Even without the medical issue," said Judge Somerville, "the court would be holding Mr. Key. I do that in these conditions because I don't know how to protect the community."

The defense can return in a few days with a doctor's medical opinion to help inform the level of supervision Key needs, said the judge.

More than half a dozen of Key's family members gathered outside the jail after the November 30 hearing. While none would speak to a reporter on the record, one spoke earlier on condition of anonymity.

"Abduction is a very strong word," said the relative. "For those that know Kevin, they know this is out of character."

The family member says that Key has worked as a housekeeping supervisor at UVA since 1986 and has coached and refereed youth softball and basketball for Fluvanna Parks and Recreation for at least 10 years.

A preliminary hearing is set for January 7.

Correction 6:40pm on Key's date of employment with UVA.


"The family member says that Key has worked as a housekeeping supervisor at UVA since 1982"

If now 46 years of age (thus b. 1966), then he would have assumed that role at a mere 16 years old. Unlikely.

Also: a janitor getting new clothes and a hotel room (in this economy!) for a big party in order to avoid a thirty-minute drive home? And then putting hands on a kid? What jury member is going to believe that?

He needs to have a seizure alright, a .22 behind the ear

His attorney argued that he is "functional but not rational and reasonable."
Sorry, if he is "not rational and reasonable" he shouldn't be out running around scott free because he poses a danger to the community and to himself. Sorry, you can't have it both ways!

Next question for his attorney: you said that he had the hotel room because "he didn't want to make a post-party drive from Charlottsville back home to Palmyra". If he has seizures and is "not rational and reasonable," why does he still have a car? You are not supposed to drive if you have a seizure condition. Sorry, you can't have it both ways!

Next question is for the relative who stated, ""For those that know Kevin, they know this is out of character." So what is his character? Is he "not rational and reasonable," as his attorney has said, or is he a fine upstanding responsible citizen? Sorry, can't have it both ways!

I know Mr. Key personally he is a very good hearted man. If people do their research they would know you are still able to drive if you have siezures

No, you cannot drive for 6 months after having a seizure... Even the smallest seizure. Incorrect.

@Tega: It looks like my colleague Lisa Provence, the author of this story, has amended the date that Key was said to have begun working at UVA, to 1986 instead of 1982.--editor hawes spencer

I am so incredibly grateful, thankful, and just beside myself with gratitude that this young child was not hurt. I just become overwhelmed thinking about any and all the possibilities here and I just want to go and hug my teenagers again, pray for their safety, and just be thankful. As parents and a community we all just have to be vigilant gatekeepers of our children.

......waiting to hear from the childs parents............. don't you think they would have required that police come and take care of the situation, rather than have a "security guard" handle it?

Something is very strange about this situation.......

Not defending anyone here but epileptic seizures are still a mystery medically in some cases and they can change and come out in the oddest ways. Most think a seizure is when the person drops to the floor and is uncontrollable. That is a grand mal seizure. There are also Petit mal seizures which are defined as: "An epileptic seizure characterized by lapse of attention and awareness, and failure of subsequent recall, but without convulsing and unconsciousness." I have a brother-in-law that once during a peitit mal seizure tried to bring a lawn mower into a house and start mowing. Medication changes can sometimes bring them on but also stress, diet, etc. anything.

Before you post something about putting a bullet in this guy's head, you should perhaps understand this could be a real medical condition. You can drive with epilepsy and having had a seizure - it is up to the doctors to evaluate the seizures - not DMV. If seizures are "controlled" on medications, they can drive.

As for the hotel room, there are many people who use this practice if they are going to be out late or drinking, reserve a hotel room, split the cost with friends and the next day go home in a more sober or less tired state. He could have known he would be tired and not a good idea for him driving at night and that could trigger a seizure!

As for this family - they could have been in shock. I still place the blame upon the "mall security" they should have had the police evaluate this situation. As much as the retailers there pay for the space they rent, they need better security in that mall. I also feel that many of these stores need to hire security or police officers this time of year for the benefit of public safety. But they don't - they are greedy and could care less about public safety.

@C'ville Native..."would have, could have..." If this guy has a medical condition that drives him to abduct children, he needs to be put away...somewhere...for a long time.

@WhoaNelly, I am not excusing an abduction but what if this wasn't an abduction but a Petit mal seizure and he was trying to move the child out of his way? Have you ever had a seizure? Have you ever been around people that have had them?

Under a petit mal or grand mal seizure, they truly are not aware of what is happening or much of the time what they are doing. It isn't the same as someone who claims "temporary insanity" because they found their spouse with another and shot them - this is a condition which is documented and you can find all sorts of evidence out there of others who have had seizures who did similar things - moved people out of their way, picked up people, etc.

Suggest you go to this link and read.

Awareness is key. Also, minds are like umbrellas, useless unless they are opened.

I am the first in line to put away a pedophile - wish you all would put your rage to the boy scout leader - Hook - there is an interesting story there especially delve into the fact that his ex-wife had much to state in divorce documents. Never mind his ties to the upper class in the Keswick area. A Boy Scout Leader who had access to how many young boys?

Or perhaps this guy's wealthy connections are already working to help cover this all up?

Mr. Key is my residential hall's facility manager, and his office is quite close to my room. I personally will vouch for the fact that this seems very out of line with his character, all of my interactions and my friends' interactions with him have been very positive. Especially seeing the children's parents only called the police 6 or 8 hours after the incident, I feel like whatever happened was not outright child abduction, rather a misplaced child situation, and this all was not intentional on part of Mr. Key. However, I could be wrong. In any case, we should not publicly condemn this man before a court finds him innocent or guilty. Remember, as an American citizen, we all have the right to be innocent until PROVEN guilty.

I would have him DNA tested. Out of character or not, he could have had prior transgressions....'re so right. Let's use the government force of the barrel of a gun to take this guy's DNA because he "could have prior transgressions."

R.I.P.: Button Gwinett

It seems easy enough to find out if there was in fact a party he went to... (wasn't he arrested the next day or later?)

@ Liberalace -- C'mon now. Don't need a gun. Just a q-tip swab and a test tube. If all the accused rapists were swabbed, we sure as hell could solve many a crime ... but they all have "rights", don't they? If only women would dig their fingernails into them and save the need for court ordered DNA swab tests......

@Pam...What if I am accused and the charges are discovered to be completely bogus? How about taking the DNA when convicted? What if I refuse to submit to giving the state my DNA because I was only "accused?" Then it indeed becomes force at the point of a gun.
What should we take from the people who falsely accuse others of crimes, resulting in the accused's liberties being forcefully taken away from them by the state? Since there is such a high level of repeat offense by drunken drivers, should we not have a state police website with the photos of DUIs, photos of their cars, their places of work and residence, etc. to protect us from these potentially deadly offenders?

I think rapists should be given at least 10 years, no parole, first offense. DUIs...multiple offenses should be 10 years no parole. Person files maliciously false rape charges? Five years, no parole, pay all legal fees for those charges. Person found not guilty of a crime?? State pays legal fees for the acquitted. Cut down on the number of politically-ambitious CAs and cops who force cases through (look at Culpeper for one local example).

Pam, be careful what you wish for with vigilante justice from the state.

R.I.P.: Raymond Burr

Liberalace:"What if I am accused and the charges are discovered to be completely bogus? How about taking the DNA when convicted? What if I refuse to submit to giving the state my DNA because I was only "accused?"

Then the truth(aka the DNA) will set your free. Look at all the convicted criminals sitting in jail who have been exonerted because they went back and examined the DNA. DNA won't incriminate you if you aren't guilty

This is a good man. Something isn't right. He has always been an integral part of Carysbrook for years. He has a great family and this is obviously a misunderstanding.

Agree with Downtowner. Think of all the serial rapists who don't get convicted because they don't want their rights violated. Once you cross the line you are now in a gray area -- and it's up to us, the sane ones, to take the DNA sample. Quite frankly, I think that when you are born your DNA should go on file. Sure would save a lot of time......

Is it time for the state to collect DNA swabs at birth along with the footprint of each baby?

I am going to wait this one out a bit longer---something doesn't quite seem right about the abduction theory. They should be able to follow up on this party excuse to find out if it was legit and dig up some more background on this guy's situation. Maybe it was an attempted abduction--though it just doesn't read as a slam dunk on that theory yet. His behavior after he left the mall or any previous behaviors like this might give some insight into this guy's intentions.

One question I have is do they have enough evidence to convict him of attempted abduction? Maybe all it takes is the fact that he picked up the kid and tried to walk away--that seems like it could be enough. Does intent come into play as in how the degree of a murder charge is evaluated? It will be very interesting to see how the prosecutor moves forward on this--do they offer a plea deal or try to convict him in court?

Shempdaddy, you are so right ... Given the poor man's history of a seizure disorder that causes odd behavior and absence, it is remarkable that there was any rush to accusation by the prosecutor's office. Why, exactly -- does anyone know? -- was a two year old so far away from her parents that a total stranger could pick the little girl up at all? might be a better or at least a more pertinent question. Why didn't one or both of the parents tackle the poor fellow? How far away were they when he picked the child up?

@Pam, @downtowner...In this country it is incumbent on the state to prove your guilt, not incumbent on the accused to prove their innocence. Giving up your rights is a very slippery slope, one I'm not interested in sliding down.

There is nothing wrong with the state asking for a DNA sample, but the involuntary taking of that sample flies in the face of everything this country is supposed to represent, and you don't get to assume guilt based on the fact the accused won't submit to a sample.'re spot on. People who seriously propose the "state" take anything from us at birth or at any other time (like when arrested) had better read some of the founding documents of this nation. It is quite easy for someone to falsely accuse someone of rape or abduction; happens all the time. It is also common for local LE (including the CA) to try to score political points by pushing faulty prosecutions through to add notches to their belts. People in this country who feign outrage need to think long and hard before handing over themselves to the state. are also right. If this guy did indeed pick up the kid to move him or to take a wayward, seemingly lost soul to a security guard, there are lots of unintended consequences to pursuing an abduction charge. For example, next time I see a small child alone in a mall or at a fair, I might likely look the other way. Why jeopardize my being?

Picture this (not so silly scenario)....
I am at a lake. A six year old girl is thrashing in the water, panicking and in trouble. I rush over, grab her and tell her it is okay. She keeps thrashing and panicking and, in the process of picking her up to bring her up to the beach, the top of her swimsuit comes off. I carry her onto the beach and the parents emerge, pissed off (partly due to guilt, partly due to "who is this guy?"), and the girl just says "Where were you? This man got me in the water." No lifeguards, beach not crowded at all. Parents decide not to ask me rationally what I did but, rather, to attempt to punch my lights out or call the police. Now I am trying to explain to PD what happened, but no one saw it.

You know what, next time the kid can keep thrashing. Sad, but could happen.

R.I.P.: Gary Heidnik

Lately, DNA samples seem to be the main way to prove innocence. Funny that you guys see it as a privacy issue. I think everyone should have their DNA recorded at birth. It's not an invasion of privacy, it's a time saver in crimes. If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear to have your DNA recorded. When we all went in the military, we had our blood type recorded on our dog tags. Same same - just better technology.

Since when does blood type identify someone?

What is it with all the excuses? This is the second attempted abduction case at UVA in the last 30 days!!!!!!!!!!

What is it about UVA employees? There was another case of a UVA employee a few years ago being a peeping tom and he got off.

If someone is sick and needs medication to prevent him from abducting people then he shouldn't be working in a place where trust is involved. What if he raped a girl in the dorm he works in? Would he be excused because he was off his meds?

He rented a hotel room!!!! What's wrong with you people who are coming to his defense? What crime will he have to commit next before you are convinced he needs to be locked up? Does some unsuspecting child or adult have to be assaulted and violated before you see the danger?

He tried to pick up and abduct someone's child!!! It amazes me how forgiving people are when it doesn't touch their own skin. God forbid had he pick pocketed your wallet. Then you'd have no problem having him prosecuted. Comparing this to saving a girl from drowning is such a stretch. A drowning girl would be coughing her guts out. Oh let's not forget this perp had a hotel room waiting for him to complete his crime. You apologists make me sick to the stomach. Not your child and hence not your problem!!!!!!

As for UVA, with all the cover ups over the years none of this would be public if they could help it but it speaks volumes that TWO employees in the last 30 days are being accused of abduction!!!!!!!!

Liberalace said: "Person found not guilty of a crime?? State pays legal fees for the acquitted."

If by "the state," you mean my tax dollars, then no thanks. Waaay too many guilty people are found not guilty primarily because they've spent millions on a successful defense. And way too many lawyers would talk their clients into paying high legal fees by saying, "When you're found not guilty, the state will reimburse."

First of all I would like to say that there are so many ignorant people making ignorant and descriminating comments. I appreciate the comments from, "C'ville Native" and "UVA Student." But as for some of the other ignorant comments like, a janitor getting a hotel room and buying new clothes--really, what does that have to do with anything. That "janitor" is a human being and is entitled to buy whatever he chooses.
I know Kevin and have trusted him with my own children. If he was really trying to do something to a child, he has had many opportunities and NEVER HAVE once violated a child or anyone for that matter. He is a smart, intelligent, kind and loving person, whom would never harm anyone. This man has done nothing but good things to help people. He spends many countless hours at the gym working with many kids trying to help them improve and he does it because he cares and want to see all children suceed. And he does not get paid for that. This is outside of his job duties.
I would just like to encourage people to stop making false accusations towards this man and think about how you would handle this if it were your loved one.