Dan and Fran Keller spent more than two decades in prison for charges of sexually abusing children during satanic rituals at South Austin day care. But soon, they will not only have their names and reputation cleared, they will also stand to receive $3.4 million from a state fund meant for those wrongly convicted of crimes.
The couple will get two checks with a total amount of $3.44 million on Wednesday at the state comptroller’s office which manages the compensation fund. Dan Keller is 75 years old while Fran Keller is 67. The Kellers received their piece of good news on Tuesday via their lawyer Keith Hampton.
The wrongful conviction compensation fund by the state pays $80,000 for each year in prison , plus a matching annuity that gives annual payments.
The Kellers happily welcomed the news as they said it will allow them to “start living” and put an end to their nightmares of destitute existence unable to find jobs at their age, constantly worrying about pinching pennies on Social Security, nd contending with late bills.
Now, the couple is looking forward to fulfilling their positive to-do list with the compensation they will be getting- among them is to get a house, purchase a vehicle, and acquire health insurance and better hearing aids for Dan.
The 1992 trial of the Kellers was a big national controversy then after three children accused them of participating in satanic rituals that included videotaped orgies, dismembered babies and tortured pets. No evidence of such activities were ever discovered, however, and the case against them met its collapse about 20 years later when the only piece of physical evidence of abuse was recognized as a mistake by the examining physician.
The Kellers were freed on signature bonds in 2013, and from then launched a determined bid to clear their names.
Their counsel Hampton argued that the Kellers fell victims to a
“satanic panic“ that swept the country in the early 1990s- fed in Austin by a mixture of factors including inept therapists, gullible police and a probe that’s gone out of control, eventually resulting in a suspect list of 26 ritual abusers, among them an Austin police captain and many of the Kellers’ neighbors.
The Kellers’ fate changed for the best only in June when Travis Court District Attorney Margaret Moore filed court documents that stated the Kellerswere “actually innocent“ under the law and dropped all pending charges against them.