By Alex Ward
Published: 12:23 EST, 27 November 2013 | Updated: 01:08 EST, 28 November 2013>
A Texas day care center owner who spent more than 20 years in prison for sexually abusing children in satanic rituals has been released after it emerged medical testimony that helped convict her was wrong.
Frances Keller, 63, was released on bond late Tuesday night and her husband, Dan Keller, 71, who was convicted at the same time, will be released within a week in a deal reached with lawyers for the two, the Travis County district attorney's office said.
'There is a reasonable likelihood that (the medical expert's) false testimony affected the judgment of the jury and violated Frances Keller's right to a fair trial,' Rosemary Lehmberg, the district attorney for Travis County, which is located in central Texas and includes the city of Austin, said in a statement.
Freed: Frances Keller, 63, pictured, was released on bond late Tuesday night
Dr Michael Mouw, the doctor whose testimony helped convict the Kellers in 1992, said in an affidavit presented to court this year that he had little training at the time on how to examine sexual abuse in children and came to the wrong conclusions in examining a child in the Keller case.
'While my testimony was based on a good faith belief at that time, I now realize my conclusion is not scientifically or medically valid, and that I was mistaken,' he said in the affidavit, which was obtained by Reuters.
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The Kellers were convicted of sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl in their care and faced accusations of dismembering corpses, putting blood in drinks served to children and flying children to Mexico, where they would be sexually abused.
Mouw told the jury lacerations on one of the alleged victims was indication of abuse. This was the only physical evidence in the case and he has now recanted his testimony, saying what he thought were lacerations were actually normal physiology.
According to Texas Public Radio, the child in the case now also says no abuse took place and that she had been instructed to make that claim.
The couple have always maintained their innocence and yesterday Fran Keller walked out of Travis County Jail in Austin a free woman.
Fran Keller's attorney, Keith Hampton, said: 'The case was a true witch hunt because the investigators actually believed that this was part of a wide satanic conspiracy.'
Free: Dan Keller, 72, was released from jail on Thursday after spending 21 years behind bars for child abuse which he claimed he never committed. His ex-wife was released from her charges last week
He said the therapist's techniques — which were used to convince the children, parents and investigators that the Kellers committed human sacrifices, flew the children to Mexico and dismembered human bodies in cemeteries — have been debunked.
Prosecutors put two constables on trial in connection with the Keller case, but the judge dismissed those charges a year after the Kellers were convicted.
Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg issued a statement saying she agreed to release the Kellers on bond after learning of Dr Mouw's testimony.
She said: 'I agreed that there is a reasonable likelihood that his false testimony affected the judgment of the jury.
'The Court of Criminal Appeals will review both cases. No further action or decisions on the case will be made until that review is finalized.'
A judge still has to sign off on Dan Keller's release. Hampton said he did not expect prosecutors to seek a retrial.
The jury convicted the Kellers after prosecutors obtained convictions in 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 the cases.
Day care center: Here is the home and former day care center owned and run by Fran Keller, who was swept up in a national hysteria over satanic ritual abuse
Hampton said after both of the Kellers are released, he will file court papers to have them exonerated and declared innocent.
In the appeal he filed in January, Mr Hampton accused the Austin police of withholding evidence that would have cleared the Kellers and said the judge allowed prosecutors to introduce unscientific psychological evidence at trial by an unqualified witness.
The Kellers were sentence after just a six day trial, according to KUT. The couple were among hundreds of childcare workers who were accused of being part of a group of Satan worshipers who engaged in ritual child abuse across America during the 1980s and 1990s.
These cases were triggered by sensational accusations of widespread sexual abuse at a California preschool in what was known as the McMartin case.
'The Keller case is definitely about the panic back then,' Keith Hampton, a lawyer for Frances Keller, told Reuters.
Hampton filed a 128-page writ earlier this year in which he sought to refute the accusations leveled against the Kellers as well as describe the panic about daycare in that era.
Free: The couple have always maintained their innocence and even the children who initially claimed the couple sexually abused them and served them blood-laced Kool-Aid have retracted their testimony
Daytime talk show hosts stoked the fire with segments describing horrors inflicted upon children at daycare.
Between 1984 to 1989, some 100 people nationwide were charged with ritual sex abuse and 50 were put on trial, according to Debbie Nathan of the National Center for Reason and Justice, which works to free those wrongly imprisoned.
Many have since questioned a number of the cases, which they said were based on faulty testimony coaxed out of children from purported experts on recovered memories and backed by dubious medical testimony on signs of sexual abuse.
Most of the charges were dismissed in the McMartin case. Hampton sees more people falsely convicted being set free.
'You are soon going to see a flood of exoneration on these sexual abuse cases,' he said.
The release also comes hot on the heels of four San Antonio women imprisoned for sexually assaulting two girls in 1994 being freed last week after a judge agreed with their defense attorney and prosecutors that their 1998 convictions for sexual assault 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.
Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2514245/Woman-freed-spending-20-years-prison-satanic-ritual-child-abuse-evidence-ruled-faulty.html