Museum of Human Achievement
"...An appeal filed this morning in Travis County district court reopens an infamous chapter in Austin history and sets out to prove, once and for all, that former Oak Hill daycare operator Frances Keller was wrongfully convicted of sexual assault and has spent the last 20 years behind bars for a crime that never even happened...."
"...Keller and her husband Dan were each convicted and sentenced on Nov. 30, 1992, to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual abuse of 3-year-old Christy Chaviers, who in the summer of 1991 was an infrequent drop-in at the couple's home-based daycare near Oak Hill..."
"...Fran Keller was sentenced to 48 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl, Christy Chaviers, who in 1991 was an infrequent drop-in at the home-based daycare Fran and her husband Dan Keller ran out of their Oak Hill home. (Dan was also convicted and sentenced to 48 years..."
"...As he wrote in an unsuccessful request that the Court of Appeals reconsider its limited 2015 ruling, "This case has a legal, historic significance. Applicants' convictions were the clear product of a period of hysteria now identified as the 'Daycare Panic' or the 'Satanic Panic.'" The most notorious relic of that period was the McMartin Preschool case in California, which involved more children, more alleged abusers, and equally fantastic tales..."
"...It was 1994 when those accusations were made – right at the tail end of the satanic ritual abuse scare that had gripped the nation since the McMartin Preschool case took control of the national consciousness in 1983. For those who don't remember the hysteria, this probably seems incredible: Across the country, individuals, many of them daycare workers, were accused of "ritual" abuse of young children left in their care..."
"...The Kellers were convicted in November 1992 for the alleged sexual assault of a three-year-old girl who was then an infrequent drop-in at the couple's home-based daycare in Oak Hill. The girl, Christy Chaviers, initially told her mother that Dan had spanked her, but with the prodding of her mother and a therapist, Donna David Campbell, that allegation quickly morphed into an allegation of sexual assault and then again into allegations that the Kellers had subjected Christy and other children to "ritual abuse." The allegations were fantastic: That the Kellers had taken children on plane rides to Mexico where they were abused by adults, that they filmed the children having sex with adults, that they sacrificed babies and animals...."
"...Michael treads lightly this time around when recounting the circumstances of the trial; that's not the point of his story, which is more about the Kellers' current circumstances. However, interested readers need look no further than attorney Keith Hampton's "Suggestion for Reconsideration," available online with the article, to see how deeply enmeshed in the panic of the day our local justice system was: "In this case, investigators and others were swept up in the hysteria of the times so fully that they scoured the records of at least eight airports searching for a mythical airplane which could land in a residential neighborhood, kidnap children from daycare, deposit them in Mexico where they were molested, then return them with no one noticing..."
"...Keller was sentenced to 48 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl, Christy Chaviers, who'd been an infrequent drop-in at the home-based daycare center Keller and her husband Dan ran in 1991. (Dan was also convicted and sentenced to 48 years; the current appeal only concerns Fran Keller's conviction.) After a day in care at the Kellers in 1991, Christy told her mother, Suzanne Stratton, that Danny Keller had spanked her; that allegation quickly morphed into an allegation of sexual abuse..."
"...Keller and her husband, Danny, were each convicted and sentenced to 48 years in prison for the alleged sexual assault of a 3-year-old girl, Christy Chaviers, who'd been an infrequent drop-in at the home-based daycare center that the couple ran back in 1991. In the summer of 1991, Christy told her mother, Suzanne Stratton, that Danny Keller had spanked her; that allegation quickly morphed into an allegation of sexual abuse, and before too long the allegations expanded again to include wild tales that the Kellers had performed strange rituals while abusing Christy and at least two other children occasionally left in their care – stories seemingly prompted by insistent and repeated questioning by parents, and with the apparent approval of Chaviers' therapist, Donna David Campbell, who concluded that Christy had been a victim of "ritual abuse."..."
"...Fran Keller and her husband Dan were sentenced to 48 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl, Christy Chaviers, who in 1991 was an infrequent drop-in at the daycare Fran and her husband Dan ran in their Oak Hill home. After a day in care at the Kellers' home that summer, Christy told her mother, Suzanne Stratton, that Dan Keller spanked her..."
"...Set ablaze by the book Michelle Remembers and the infamous McMartin preschool trial – which alleged that the family-run daycare was instead a seething nest of unspeakably vile Satanic sexual abuse – this literal witch hunt continued for decades...."