Dan and Fran Keller ran a small day care center in Oak Hill, Texas. Their lives were turned upside down in 1991 when they were accused of engaging in Satanic sexual abuse rituals involving the children under their care. The Kellers maintained their innocence, but in 1991, they were each sentenced to 48 years in prison after a highly publicized trial.
The Kellers never stopped proclaiming their innocence and fighting for their freedom from prison, and in 2013, after having spent 21 years behind bars, they were released after new evidence came forward revealing misconduct in the case by police and the prosecution. Dan Keller, now 75, and Fran Keller, now 67, have had a large chunk of their lives taken away from them.
Now, 26 years after their conviction, the Kellers are finally receiving some measure of compensation for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment. According to My Statesmen, Dan and Fran Keller will be receiving two checks totaling $3.44 million from a state compensation fund. That’s about $80,000 per year behind bars, plus interest. Whether that figure is enough to make up for having to spend more than two decades in prison, not to mention the psychological turmoil and damage to the Kellers’ reputations that came as a result of the entire ordeal, is another matter entirely.
The Kellers were accused in 1991 by three children under their care of performing disturbing and some say rather far-fetched Satanic sexual abuse rituals. The allegations included desecration of graves, orgies, dismembered babies and pets, and other acts of sexual abuse against children. Despite no evidence being found in their homes that such abuse had ever taken place, the Kellers were convicted and sent to prison.
The Kellers’ lawyer, Keith Hampton, argues that the Kellers were victims of a “Satanic panic” that was sweeping the nation in the early 1990s. According to the New York Times, an earlier case involving the McMartin pre-school in California set in motion a nationwide hysteria over Satanic ritual sex abuse of young children in schools. That case resulted in no convictions, but local and national media made a circus out of it, and the idea that children were being preyed upon in schools and day cares by sexually sadistic Satanists became ingrained in the American psyche.
Several of the accusers of Dan and Fran Keller opposed their release in 2013. In June of this year, three years after their initial release and two years after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the couple’s convictions, Travis County District Attorney Margaret Moore filed paperwork declaring the Kellers’ innocence, allowing them to receive compensation from the state for the wrongful convictions.
The Kellers plan on purchasing a home, vehicles, and better health insurance with the money they will receive from the state.
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