A Texas couple was awarded approximately $ 3.4 million on Tuesday, decades after they were accused of sexually abusing children during alleged satanic rituals outside of their Austin child care care facility, according to multiple news reports.
Dan and Fran Keller spent more than 21 years in prison after they were found guilty in 1992, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The money they are set to receive is from a state fund to compensate wrongfully convicted people.
The Kellers were accused of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl after children at the day care they operated out of their home told investigators of “satanic rituals, drinking blood laced cool aide, taking children to Mexico by plane to be raped-dismemberment of bodies, there were even stories of putting children in a pool with sharks,” according to local TV station KTBC.
They were each sentenced to 48 years in prison but were freed in 2013 and a Texas appeals court overturned their convictions in 2015, the Statesman reports, writing on Tuesday night:
“The Keller case made national news after three children accused them in 1991 of leading ghastly satanic rituals. … 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.”
In June, the Travis County, Texas, district attorney, Margaret Moore, dismissed the cases against the Kellers and declared them “actually innocent,” citing “no credible evidence” that they committed the crimes of which they were accused, according to station KXAN.
The wrongful convictions have been cited as examples of a widespread “satanic panic” of the ’80s and ’90s.
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“They are now compensated and no longer must fear homelessness or lack of health insurance,” the Kellers’ attorney wrote in an email, KXAN reports. “They are buying a home and can live out their lives in peace and quiet. I am very happy for them.”
The Kellers’ wish list includes buying a house, a car, health insurance and better hearing aids for Dan, 75, according to the Statesman.
Fran, 67, told the paper that she and her husband were ecstatic with the news.
“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.”
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