Nunavik performer facing charges of sexual assault, interference

Historic charges against Charlie Keelan stem from 1995, 1997

Charlie Keelan, who performs under the stage name Saali, is pictured here performing at Kuujjuaq’s Aqpik Jam in 2019. (File photo)

By Sarah Rogers

A well-known Nunavik singer and songwriter faces charges of sexual interference and assault of a minor, stemming from a series of incidents that took place more than 20 years ago.

Charlie Keelan, better known under his stage name Saali, has long headed the Montreal-based Saali & the Ravenhearts, and continues to perform shows across the North.

Keelan is facing a charge of sexual interference, which entails touching a minor, linked to at least one incident that took place in Quaqtaq between March 1 and March 31, 1995.

He faces another charge of invitation to sexual touching of a minor linked to the same period.

And Keelan faces a third, related charge of sexual assault of an underage person, this one stemming from sometime in April 1997 in both Quaqtaq and Kangirsuk.

All three charges come with a possible penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment.

The victim’s identity is protected by a publication ban.

These charges against Keelan date from April 2017; he pleaded not guilty in November of that year.

Then, in December 2019, Keelan was charged with breaking a condition not to communicate with the same alleged victim.

A date for a trial has not yet been set; lawyers in the case are due back in court in Kuujjuaq on July 13.

Keelan’s defence lawyer, Julien Lespérance Hudon, declined to comment on the case. The Crown prosecutor overseeing the case, Geneviève Lamontagne, said she could not respond to Nunatsiaq News’ questions about the case for reasons of confidentiality.

Keelan, 45, is originally from Kangiqsualujjuaq. He worked for a time as a Kativik regional police officer and was stationed in Quaqtaq for a period during the 1990s.

In 2000, he faced another charge of sexually assaulting a minor, stemming from a 1999 incident in Kuujjuaq. Keelan pleaded guilty, was fined $2,000 and was suspended from the force.

Nunatsiaq News has been unable to view Keelan’s criminal record due to COVID-19-related restrictions at Quebec’s courthouses.

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