Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trial

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The Oak Hill satanic ritual abuse trial occurred in Oak Hill, Austin, Texas. Fran Keller was the proprietor of a small day care, taking care of preschool children out of their own homes with the assistance of her retired husband, Dan. In the summer of 1991, the therapist of a three-year-old child being treated for behavioural problems due to her parents' divorce alleged that the Kellers had sexually abused her. The child's mother contacted the police, who alerted the case's eventual prosecuting attorney, who contacted a friend whose child was also enrolled in the day care and being treated by the same therapist. The second child also eventually alleged abuse. An adult who had recently recovered memories of childhood ritual abuse claimed the abuse was an example of satanic ritual abuse, and parents began to contact each other, eventually launching a legal case. With information gathered from Believe the Children, an organization created by the parents involved in the McMartin preschool trial, children enrolled in the daycare were repeatedly questioned by parents, therapists and law enforcement officers as part of the investigation. Suspicion expanded to include public officials, including police officers; one officer's ex-husband was interrogated for several hours and submitted to two polygraph tests, eventually confessing child, but not ritual, abuse; although he retracted the confession the following morning. Following this confession, the Kellers fled the state, later explaining that their decision was based on the draconian sentences imposed on other, similarly-accused day care providers. The children were diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder.[1]

The Kellers faced a six-day trial, during which the original child claimed no abuse had taken place but she had been told to say it had. Despite this retraction, the Kellers were given sentences of 48 years each. Later investigation of the case revealed serious problems: There was no physical evidence of abuse, a retracted confession that the investigating officer did not believe, flawed medical exams of the children, testimony by a dubious "expert" on satanic ritual abuse, and the prosecution withholding information from the defence.[2]


  1. ^ de Young, Mary (2004). The Day Care Ritual Abuse Moral Panic. Jefferson, North Carolina, United States: McFarland & Company. pp. 107–9. ISBN 0-7864-1830-3. 
  2. ^ Smith, J (2009-03-27). "Believing the Children: It's likely Fran and Danny Keller were innocent of charges of child sexual abuse, but they're still in prison after 17 years". The Austin Chronicle. 

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