Friday, August 25, 2017

Kellers Awarded $3.4 Million Settlement

Back in June, Dan and Fran Keller, two of the last remaining victims of the "Satanic Panic" of the late 80's and early 90's, were exonerated of the bizarre crimes for which they were originally convicted. The Kellers spent 21 years in prison after being convicted of "Satanic Ritual Abuse," which was an entirely made-up phenomenon circulated by evangelical conspiracy theorists. This week, the Kellers were awarded a $3.4 million settlement from a state fund in an attempt to repay them for more than two decades of false imprisonment.

The Kellers had been convicted of sexual assault in 1992. Children from their day-care center accused them — variously — of serving blood-laced Kool Aid; wearing white robes; cutting the heart out of a baby; flying children to Mexico to be raped by soldiers; using Satan’s arm as a paintbrush; burying children alive with animals; throwing them in a swimming pool with sharks; shooting them; and resurrecting them after they had been shot.

They were hardly the only people to be accused by children during the panic. Many were exonerated long ago — like the 20 people wrongly convicted in the infamous Kern County sex abuse cases. Some now blame the phenomenon on “a quack cadre of psychotherapists who were convinced that they could dig up buried memories through hypnosis,” as Radley Balko wrote in a column for The Washington Post. But the Kellers suffered for decades.

They served nearly 22 years in prison before a court released them in 2013, after years of work by journalists and lawyers to expose what proved to be a baseless case against them. And only now — when Fran Keller is 67 and Dan is 75 — has the couple been fully exonerated. Their 1992 case was finally dismissed in June after a district attorney declared them innocent. This week, the Austin American-Statesman reported, they were awarded $3.4 million from a state fund — a belated attempt to refund a quarter-century that they lost to the delusions of other people.

Cases like these are one of the things that make me so incensed when I see people who should know better exhibiting an utter lack of critical thinking skills. I've got news for any fundies who happen to be reading this article - I'm an actual sorcerer, and I can't fly children to Mexico or resurrect people or "use Satan's arm as a paintbrush" - you know, unless that last one is some sort of euphemism. People who "worship Satan" can't do any of those things either. So it should be obvious that none of those "crimes" were ever committed.

With evangelicals on the rise again, we all need to be vigilant. If something sounds like nonsense, it probably is. And understand, I say that as a guy who casts spells.

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