Museum of Human Achievement
"...Fran 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 appeal filed this morning concerns only Fran Keller's conviction.) After a day at the Kellers 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..."
"...Fran and Dan Keller are some of the last innocent people to leave prison after being caught in the satanic child abuse hysteria of the Eighties and Nineties. At least we think they're some of the last – no one really knows who's still behind bars..."
"...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...."
"...The sensational charges against Fran and Danny Keller and their home day care were not unique. By 1992, the year the Kellers were tried, about 100 child-care workers across the country had been charged with ritual sex abuse of children, and 20 day care workers had been convicted in similar cases..."
"...His only role was to help the prosecution travel through uncharted waters and manage the case in a way that reduced cross-contamination and kept things from taking on a hysterical edge or mirrored the unsuccessful outcome of the McMartin Preschool case. There was no mention by Randy of "satanic" abuse..."
"...Lending credence to their madness was “Satanic Panic,” a wave of satanic abuse allegations beginning in the late 1980s that targeted mostly childcare workers and riddled small-town police and courthouses with a fearful, hysterical groupthink, wherein international satanic cults had infiltrated America...."
"...And in fact, the Chronicle's reinvestigation of the Fran's Day Care case has revealed serious problems with the state's case against the Kellers – including questions about the quality and reliability of the state's medical evidence and forensic interviews. Moreover, the sensational nature of the charges themselves, in a period of hysterical national rumors about supposed "satanic ritual abuse" at day care centers, made it virtually impossible for the Kellers to receive a fair or even rational trial..."
"...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 day care near Oak Hill..."
"...Anna Vasquez had no reason to mistrust the criminal justice system. That is, until it put her behind bars for more than a decade for the supposed ritualistic sexual abuse of a friend's nieces – abuse that neither she nor her accuser say ever happened...."
"...When a child is sexually abused, there isn't necessarily physical evidence to prove any abuse happened. But whether the lack of any physical evidence of abuse is significant in the case of Fran Keller, convicted of sexually assaulting a child left in her care back in 1991, is a central issue in an appeal of that case currently pending in a Travis County court...."
"...Thanks to her reporting, wrongfully imprisoned Fran Keller is now free, and Dan Keller should be free before long (see "Freedom for the Kellers," p.30). That's not the end of their legal ordeal, and it cannot begin to compensate for more than two decades of incarceration – but we can celebrate this week that their 1992 convictions on "satanic ritual abuse" charges will almost certainly be overturned, and that the work of Jordan and her colleagues here at the paper has had an important hand in making that happen...."
"...On Monday, Jan. 14, attorneys for Fran Keller filed an appeal of her 1992 conviction on multiple counts of child 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."..."
"...When a child is sexually abused, there isn't necessarily physical evidence to prove any abuse happened. The lack of any physical evidence of abuse is a central issue in the case of Fran and Dan Keller, convicted of sexually assaulting a child left in their care in 1991 – an appeal of that case is currently pending before a Travis County district court...."
"...As a result, the children were able to disclose in their own time without pressure of danger of contamination, and therapists were free to draw their own conclusions without preconceived notions about what may or may not have transpired. Secondly, Randy informed the prosecution of the nature of ritual abuse and the fact that much of it is founded on duplicity – the deceit practiced by perpetrators to confuse the victim and to dupe them into believing that they (the perpetrators) have supernatural powers..."
"...That's the current state of affairs for Fran and Dan Keller, the now-divorced couple sentenced in 1992 to 42 years in prison for the alleged sexual abuse of then 3-year-old Christy Chaviers. The two were freed late last year after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg agreed that then-novice emergency room Dr..."
"...Jordan Smith's story in this issue, "Believing the Children," is the result of several months of her hard and detailed work – reviewing the trial documents and related materials of the 1992 Fran's Day Care prosecution, interviewing as many of the principals she could find who were willing to talk, plus doing a good deal of background research into the period and the decadelong era of "satanic ritual abuse" hysteria of which it was a part. It's one of the longest and most difficult stories we've ever attempted, and we hope readers will see why we did so..."
"...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..."
"...At the tail end of the last gasp of the satanic ritual abuse mania that needlessly ruined countless lives, four women in San Antonio were charged with sexually assaulting two young girls over the course of two days. The year is 1994, the city is San Antonio, and the four women accused were all openly gay, which of course means witchcraft was involved..."
"...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...."