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Dublin: 18 °C Tuesday 19 June, 2018

US couple wrongly jailed for 21 years for sexually assaulting children to receive €2.7 million

In 1991, Dan and Fran Keller were accused of abuse and dark rituals that included dismembering babies and torturing pets.

A US COUPLE wrongly jailed for 21 years on charges of sexually assaulting children as part of a satanic cult, are to receive $3.4 million (€2.7 million) from the state of Texas, months after prosecutors acknowledged their innocence.

Operators of a daycare facility, Dan and Fran Keller were at the center of a sensational case in 1991, accused by children of abuse and dark rituals that included dismembering babies and torturing pets.

Ritual Abuse Conviction Challenged File Photo: Frances 'Fran' and Daniel Keller leave the courtroom following testimony in their sexual assault trial in 1992. Source: AP/PA Images

Authorities later acknowledged that the children were improperly interviewed, triggering false memories, amid a climate of fear fueled by a belief around the nation that satanists were preying upon children.

The physician who claimed to have discovered physical evidence of abuse also acknowledged in 2013 that he had made a mistake in assessing the source of one of the children’s injuries.

The Kellers were freed from prison that year, but not fully cleared of the charges against them until last June, when prosecutors finally declared them innocent.

Ritual Abuse Conviction Challenged Dan and Fran Keller pose outside of the Travis County courthouse in Austin, Texas Source: AP/PA Images

By Texas law, both are entitled to $80,000 (€67,000) compensation for each year they spent in prison. They were scheduled to pick up a payment of $3.4 million, the Austin American-Statesman reported. Fran Keller, 67, told the newspaper:

This means we don’t have to worry about pinching pennies on Social Security, and late bills. It means we will actually be free. We can start living — and no more nightmares.

The couple had been living in poverty since their release, unable to find work in their advanced age and with their past legal troubles, the American-Statesman said.

Between 1991 and mid-2016, Texas had paid 101 wrongfully convicted prisoners $93.6 million (€79.2 million), according to the Texas Tribune.

© AFP 2017

Read: ‘I would go so far as to beg them’: Mother of missing Fiona Pender makes heartfelt appeal>

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