AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – A man convicted 21 years ago of child abuse involving satanic rituals at a day care he ran with his wife was freed Thursday amid questions about the evidence in the case.
Dan Keller was released on bond barely a week after the release of his now ex-wife, Fran. The couple, who have always maintained their innocence, hope that appeals courts will now exonerate them.
The Kellers were convicted and sentenced to 48 years each in 1992, after therapists testified that they helped three children recover memories of satanic rituals and sexual abuse at an Austin preschool the couple operated out of their home.
The only physical evidence came from an emergency room doctor who testified that internal lacerations on one child were evidence of abuse. But in court documents filed earlier this year, Dr. Michael Mouw says what he thought were lacerations were actually normal physiology.
That prompted prosecutors in Travis County, which includes Austin, to agree that the case’s evidence was faulty and release the couple on bond.
Dan Keller, 72, was met outside the county jail by his ex-wife, 63, who was released Nov. 26. The pair _ who divorced while in prison, but who remain close _ hugged warmly.
Dan Keller told reporters he wasn’t bitter and planned to spend his first moments of freedom grabbing a cheeseburger.
The jury convicted the Kellers after similar cases in California, Massachusetts and Florida that gained national attention. Convictions in many of those cases have been overturned, or prosecutors have petitioned to vacate them.
In an appeal filed in January, the Kellers accused Austin police of withholding evidence that would have cleared the couple and said the judge allowed prosecutors to introduce unscientific psychological evidence at trial by an unqualified witness.
Four San Antonio women imprisoned for sexually assaulting two girls in 1994 were freed last month, after a judge agreed with their defense attorney and prosecutors that their 1998 convictions should not stand due to faulty expert testimony. In that case, another doctor recanted her testimony that what she thought were internal injuries indicating sexual abuse were actually anatomically normal.
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