On Wednesday, Fran and Dan Keller were awarded $3.4 million by the state of Texas, after serving 21 years in jail for the alleged crime of subjecting children in their daycare to sexual abuse and torture as part of satanic rituals. They were released in 2013 and their conviction was overturned in 2015, but it was only in June that they were declared “actually innocent” by law.
The Austin American-Statesman reports that the state’s wrongful conviction fund is giving them $80,000 for every year they were imprisoned, plus an annuity for as long as they live. Their lawyer, Keith Hampton, has worked with the Kellers to establish their innocence since their release. Hampton cited the “satanic panic” sweeping the country at the time the Kellers were convicted for abusing a three-year-old at their day care.
Many respected authorities, including their neighbors and the Austin Police Captain, supported the accusations of children and ignored testimony from kids who stated nothing was wrong at the facility. Therapists interviewed the three-year-old, and a taped recording of the interaction is now used as an example of what not to do when interviewing a child:
The Keller case made national news after three children accused them in 1991 of leading ghastly satanic rituals that supposedly included desecrated graves, videotaped orgies, dismembered babies and tortured pets. No evidence of such activities was discovered at their in-home day care facility, and the case against them collapsed about two decades later when the only physical evidence of abuse was acknowledged as a mistake by the examining physician.
Fran Keller told the Statesman that the money has changed their lives, as they’ve been living in poverty since their release, unable to get jobs with a a serious criminal record. “This means we don’t have to worry about pinching pennies on Social Security, and late bills,” she said. “It means we will actually be free. We can start living—and no more nightmares.”