Wrongly jailed for 21 years ‘satanic’ daycare couple gets USD 3.4 million

Chicago: A US couple wrongly jailed for 21 years on charges of sexually assaulting children as part of a satanic cult, were to receive $3.4 million Wednesday 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.

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.

By Texas law, both are entitled to $80,000 compensation for each year they spent in prison. They were scheduled Wednesday to pick up a payment of $3.4 million, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

“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,” Fran Keller, 67, told the newspaper.

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, according to the Texas Tribune.