Kellers Released in Texas
FMSF News Alert - December 9, 2013
We are pleased to bring you news of long-overdue releases of some convicted during the early 1990's Satanic Panics.
Each time a case is overturned, the papers seem to report it as the last such case. While we rejoice in each exoneration, we are also reminded of those who still wait.
Reunited after Twenty-One Years:
On Tuesday evening November 26, 2013, Fran Keller finally walked out of the Travis County Jail in Austin, Texas after spending 21 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing children in the day care she and her husband operated. Her husband, Dan, was released nine days later into Fran’s awaiting arms.
Dan and Fran Keller had run a family daycare out of their home near Austin from 1989 to 1991. Two of the children in their daycare had mothers who were undergoing recovered memory therapy at that time - retrieving memories of alleged sexual abuse by their own fathers while reading books such as ‘The Courage to Heal’. The children of these two mothers and one other would come to accuse the Kellers of having sexually and satanic ritually abused them at the daycare.
Following the initial accusations, the children’s parents sought advice from groups such as ‘Believe the Children’, an advocacy group started by parents of the accusing children from the McMartin preschool, and from ‘ritual abuse experts’ such as Corydon Hammond, the Utah psychologist infamous for his Greenbaum Speech and for his part in the maltreatment of Bennett Braun’s patient, Elizabeth Gale.
Two of the accusing children in the Keller case were diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder and said to have been programmed to commit suicide.
At the trial, therapists testified that they helped children recover memories of the Keller’s abuse. Indeed, by the time the trial began in 1992, the accusations went so far as to include such things as that the Kellers committed human sacrifices in which they put chopped-up body parts into the children’s socks , buried the children alive then dug them back up, and that Fran cut off the arm of a gorilla at Zilker Park.
An accusation that the children were being flown to Mexico for prostitution purposes can be traced directly back to a book on the alleged ‘Franklin Cover-Up’, recommended to the parents by Pam Noblitt - wife of Alliant University professor and self-acclaimed ritual abuse expert, Randy Noblitt. Randy Noblitt testified as an ‘expert’ against the Kellers at trial, saying that the things alleged were typical activities in cult abuse.
The case became a cause of the National Center for Reason and Justice, a group that helped shed light on the injustice. Legally, the case disintegrated when Dr. Michael Mouw, who had presented the only physical evidence at trial, recanted his testimony. Mouw was quoted in the Austin American Statesman (November 27, 2013): "Sometimes it takes time to figure out what you don’t know. I was mistaken."
In 1994, journalist Gary Cartwright authored an in-depth investigative article on the Keller case for Texas Monthly Magazine entitled ‘The Innocent and the Damned’. While covering the case, Cartwright became so convinced of the Kellers’ innocence that he continued to visit Fran Keller in prison for several years thereafter.
Lindell, C. (2013, November 27). Fran Keller freed in abuse case. Austin American-Statesman. p. 1
Smith, J. (2013, November 26). Fran Keller Released From Prison. Austin Chronicle. Retrieved on November 27, 2013
Cartwright, G. (1994, April) The Innocent and the Damned. Texas Monthly.
Four Lives Regained:
A week prior to the release of Fran Keller, a group of women known as ‘The San Antonio Four’ or sometimes ‘Four Lives Lost’ were released on their own recognizance after spending 15 years behind bars.
Liz Ramirez and her friends Cassie Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez were convicted of allegedly abusing two of Ramirez’s nieces while babysitting in the early 1990’s. One of the two nieces recently recanted her accusations with a tearful apology.
The only physical evidence was the same sort of flawed medical testimony as in the Keller cases - a misunderstanding of the variants possible on an intact hymen mis-reported as evidence of abuse.
Also as with the Keller case, the plight of the San Antonio Four caught the eye of at least one dedicated journalist who then brought it to the attention of the Innocence Project and Debbie Nathan at the National Center for Reason and Justice.
All of the women are currently out on bail and seeking total exonerations.
One of the four, Anna Vasquez, accepted a deal with the state in order to be paroled in 2012. That deal requires her to register as a sexual offender - a stipulation she is now fighting.
A documentary is underway. Trailer may be viewed here:
A summary of the case can be found here:
J. Bean and Pam