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Jailed For 'Satanic Abuse' Few Believe Happened, Fran & Dan Keller Free After 21 Years

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News
Jordan Smith's 2009 article on the Keller case set the couple’s appeal in motion.";

Update: Dan Keller walked out of the Travis County Jail this afternoon after 21 years in prison. He was greeted with an embrace from his wife Fran, released from her own imprisonment last week.

As the two left the jail, Dan Keller denied any bitterness over his two­-plus decades in prison. 

“I forgave everybody,” Keller said. “It’s no use to hate somebody … man ain’t supposed to do that. Lord didn’t hate anybody when they put him on the cross. He said ‘I forgive you,’ and I forgave them. It’s an experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody.”

Original story (Nov. 27): A Central Texas woman is now free after spending more than 20 years behind bars.

Fran Keller and her husband Dan were both sentenced to 48 years for so-called “satanic ritual abuse” at their Austin-area day care.

But it’s a crime most say never happened.

The Kellers’ attorney Keith Hampton filed an appeal in January arguing that key pieces of the case have now been discredited. A medical expert now says he was wrong in connecting some physical evidence to the case.

Investigative reporter Jordan Smith with the Austin Chronicle shed new light on the case in an article that’s been credited for Fran Keller’s release. In the audio player below, she recounts the Kellers’ trial, her own involvement in the story, and what’s next for the couple.

Texas Public Radio has more background on the case:

In 1991 Fran Keller and her husband Dan were accused of sexually abusing a three-year-old girl who attended their day care center in Oak Hill, a community in Southwest Austin. After a six-day trial in 1993, the Kellers were convicted and given sentences of 48 years each. But immediately there were calls of injustice as the child has now said no abuse had taken place, but she had been instructed to make that claim.

Fran Keller was released on personal recognizance in Travis County yesterday.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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