The Kellers are free and will be compensated $3.4 million for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment. The couple, Dan and Fran, spent more than 21 years in prison after being accused of sexual abuse of children in their care.
Satanic Panic at the Day Care
In 1991, the Kellers ran an in-home day care facility. Three children accused them that year of a series of sordid and nigh unbelievable crimes. They were alleged to have forced the children to participate in ghastly rituals that included grave desecration, videotaped orgies, dismemberment of infants and torture of pets. A physician went on record saying that there was evidence at least one of the children had suffered sexual abuse. However, he later recanted his statement. This was due to a discovery that what he thought were signs of abuse were in fact normal variations in the physical development of children.
The case received national attention as it devolved in more and more inconceivable directions. By the end of it, there were 26 accused of being ritual abusers, including an Austin police captain. Other children in the couple’s care asserted that nothing unusual went on at the day care. But, perhaps fueled by “Satanic Panic,” psychologists, criminology professors and the police continually extracted false testimony from the accusing children to push this outlandish story.
The couple is overjoyed to be free and to no longer rest on the brink of destitution. They were unable to obtain jobs due to their convictions, no matter how incorrect those turned out to be.
If even 1 percent of convictions are false, that means that 20,000 Americans are in prison wrongfully. The best defense against a wrongful prison sentence is to seek an attorney if police accuse you of a crime. As seen above, even the most preposterous accusations could lead to a serious loss of your freedoms.