Fran Keller to be freed in satanic abuse case
Fran Keller, a former Austin day care owner who said she was swept up in a national hysteria over satanic ritual abuse, is expected to be freed Tuesday afternoon after spending 21 years in prison for sexual abuse of children in her care.The Travis County district attorney’s office agreed not to oppose Keller’s release but stopped short of endorsing her claim of innocence, said her lawyer, Keith Hampton.
The agreement will allow Keller, 63, to post a personal bond and be freed from Travis County Jail Tuesday afternoon, Hampton said. Her husband, Dan Keller, could be released from prison under similar conditions as early as next week, Hampton said. Dan Keller turns 72 Friday.
Hampton vowed to continue efforts to establish the Kellers’ innocence. In the meantime, he said, Tuesday was a day to celebrate Fran Keller’s freedom in time to spend Thanksgiving with her family.
The Kellers, tried together in 1992, were sentenced to 48 years in prison after three children from their home-based Southeast Austin day care made allegations of sexual abuse that included strange and horrific rituals.
For those who believed in the prevalence of ritual abuse, the allegations were powerful proof that secret societies and dangerous cults — often protected by top politicians, business leaders and law officers — engaged in depraved attacks on children who could be dominated and indoctrinated through pain, humiliation and terror.
But for Hampton and other skeptics, the Kellers were the victims of an investigation run amok, featuring poor fact-gathering and interview techniques that spurred three young children to devise ever-more fantastic claims of abuse that should have raised doubts. Instead, in the hysteria over similar claims at day cares nationwide, the case spiraled out of control, Hampton said.
I can remember there was a slew of “Satanic ritual abuse” cases from the mid-80s and into the 90s and a lot of people went to prison as child abusers so I can’t imagine what hell they went through.
Even at the time I thought these cases sounded like BS. If a children denied being abused they were obviously suppressing memories of said abuse which so-called “experts” helped them recover.