Fran and Dan Keller were released from a Texas prison after 21 years. In 1992, the husband and wife were convicted of the satanic ritual abuse of 3-year-old Christy Chaviers. They were each sentenced to 48 years in prison. Although the couple maintained their innocence, they remained in prison for 21 years.
In the late 80s and early 90s, the Kellers operated a home-based day care for children. Christy attended the day care on an as-needed basis. In the summer of 1991, the little girl told her mother that Dan Keller spanked her while she was in his care.
Christy’s mother eventually took her to see therapist Donna David-Campbell, who determined the 3-year-old was a victim of sexual and satanic abuse. Within weeks, the parents of two other children made similar claims.
As reported by Statesman.com, the accusations against the Kellers were incredibly bizarre. They were accused of performing satanic rituals, mutilating and sacrificing small animals and babies, digging up corpses, and forcing the children to perform sex acts. They were also accused of flying the children to Mexico to allow them to be abused by others.
Texas authorities never found any physical evidence to prove the claims. However, Dr. Michael Mouw testified that he discovered “deformities to Christy’s genital area that could have been caused by sexual abuse.” Mouw later admitted that he was not qualified to make that determination.
In an interview with the Austin Chronicle, Mouw said that he later realized the “deformities” were simply “normal variants” in appearance. Mouw’s admission prompted the Keller’s defense attorneys to appeal their convictions.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg reviewed the cases and determined that the medical testimony was incorrect. Therefore, the Kellers were not given a fair trial. Lehmberg agreed that the 1992 convictions should be overturned. Although the couple could face retrial for the crimes, Lehmberg is not expected to revisit the charges.
In the late 80s and early 90s, hundreds of child-care workers were accused of sexual and satanic ritual abuse. The phenomena became known was the “day-care sex-abuse hysteria.” It is thought that suggestive interview techniques used by law enforcement and mental health professionals contributed to the hysteria. Many children later recanted their stories. However, dozens of convictions were based on the children’s testimony alone.
Dan Keller is now 72 years old, and his wife Fran is 63.
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