Frank Keller Lost 21 years of her youth because people did not question a myth

Texas pair released after serving 21 years for 'satanic abuse'

Dan and Fran Keller, sentenced in 1991 for child sexual assault during US 'Satanic panic' era, released after district attorney conceded trial jury was probably swayed by faulty testimony.

Dan Keller has left an Austin jail, a week after his wife was released – and 21 years after the pair were given a 48-year sentence for sexual assault during America's "Satanic panic" era. 

Fran Keller, 63, was released on bond last week after the Travis County district attorney agreed that the trial jury was probably swayed by the faulty testimony of an expert witness. 

To supporters of Dan, 72, and Fran Keller, 63, their 1992 trial was a modern-day Texas witch-hunt that recalled the hysterical delusions of seventeenth-century Salem. 

The fuse was lit in August 1991, when a three-year-old girl on the way to a behavioural therapy session told her mother that Dan Keller had spanked her at the preschool he ran with his wife in Austin.

The girl told the therapist that Keller had sexually assaulted her using a pen and "pooped and peed on my head".

In subsequent months, two other children made similar claims about the Kellers. [Ed: following disclosure questioning by feminerapists] . By the time the couple went on trial in November 1992, the allegations were significantly more lurid and involved allegations of ritual abuse, murder, dismemberment and animal sacrifice.

The Kellers were found guilty of aggravated sexual assault of a child, even though the three-year-old girl at the centre of the case recanted her claims in court.

A modern-day witch-hunt 

The only physical evidence against the Kellers was the testimony of Dr Michael Mouw, who examined the girl in the emergency room of a local hospital after the therapy session and said he found tears in her hymen that potentially indicated that she was molested.

Mouw signed an affidavit last January in which he affirms that he now realises his inexperience led him to a conclusion that "is not scientifically or medically valid, and that I was mistaken."

In an appeal filed on behalf of Fran Keller earlier this year, her lawyer, Keith Hampton, also argued that the state presented misleading evidence about the cemetery, relied on a false witness confession and the testimony of a "quack" satanic abuse "expert", and that suggestive interview techniques had encouraged the children to make "fantastical false statements".

According to police reports and trial records, the children said that Dan Keller killed his dog and made children cut it up and eat it, "baptised" kids with blood and disembowelled pets, forcing children to drink the blood.

The Kellers were also said to have decapitated and chopped up a baby, put the remains in a swimming pool and made the children jump in. In one account, the Kellers were said to have stolen a baby gorilla from a park and Frances cut off one of its fingers.

The pair, who apparently liked to wear robes, were said to have dug graves in a cemetery to hide dead animals and a passer-by who was shot and carved up with a chain saw.

The children were supposedly taken to military bases and on secret aeroplane trips, including to Mexico, where they were abused and returned to the centre in time for their parents to pick them up as normal. They said they were coerced into videotaped sex acts and drugged so they would forget what they had seen.

In court, the jury heard about the extensive attempts by Austin police to substantiate the stories – and Hampton believes that lent them credibility. Police conducted inquiries at nearby airfields, took the children to a cemetery and examined graves from a helicopter using an infrared camera that they said could detect "hot-spots" on decomposing corpses.

In a letter of support for the Kellers dated March 17 this year, James Wood, a psychology professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, wrote: "There is now general agreement among reputable scholars that the Daycare Abuse Panic was a twentieth-century manifestation of 'witchcraft fever' of the same kind that swept Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 and Western Europe in the centuries before that."

A nation panicked over 'rampant' Satanism

A nationwide alarm over apparent widespread child sexual abuse at daycare centres was ignited by the McMartin Preschool case in the 1980s, which attracted vast media attention. An initial allegation that the owner of the preschool near Los Angeles had molested a boy snowballed into a seven-year investigation that unearthed tales of ritualistic animal mutilation in secret underground passageways. More than 200 charges relating to the sexual abuse of dozens of children were levelled at seven people but no one was convicted.

In 1988, Geraldo Rivera interviewed the heavy metal singer Ozzy Osbourne as part of a prime-time two-hour NBC special called Devil Worship: Exposing Satan's Underground.

"The very young and the impressionable should definitely not be watching this programme tonight. This is not a Halloween fable, this is a real-life horror story," Rivera said at the start in front of a studio audience of "devil worshippers and law enforcers, experts and victims."

The show claimed that satanism was rampant across the US.

In this paranoid context, Hampton said, the allegations against the Kellers "did not seem outlandish. People were believing this stuff because it was on national TV," he told the Guardian. [Ed: See the British equivalent of this 'watershed' programme, The Cook Report's Devil's Work here.]

"The local news had a [recurring] segment called 'cult crimes'. The Exorcist III was a blockbuster; Satan was everywhere." [Ed: See here about the Cult Crimes Impact Network, an organisation of  fundamentalist police officers who 'massaged' the threat of SRA at the time]

The Kellers' freedom comes only a couple of weeks after the release on bail of a group of friends known as the San Antonio Four. They spent more than a decade in prison after being convicted of child sexual assaults that were said to have taken place in Texas in 1994. Their case also featured claims of wild, ritualistic molestation and expert medical testimony that was later exposed as incorrect.

In Arkansas in 2011 a trio dubbed the "West Memphis Three" were set free after high-profile campaigns backed by Hollywood celebrities. The men, then teenagers, had been convicted of murdering three boys in 1993 after prosecutors claimed the defendants were members of a satanic cult. [Ed: see  how Youth Culture and rebellious youngsters were falsely demonised by fundamentalist troublemakers such as crusading policeman Kobus Jonker who  impregnated a British case with Satanic claims. here.Devil's Knot, a film based on the events and starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon, is scheduled for release in the US next year.

And in Florida, a Cuban immigrant named Frank Fuster is serving a 165-year sentence handed down in 1985 for child molestation but doubts have been raised as to the validity of the evidence against him.

Elizabeth Ramirez, 38, and Cassandra Rivera, 37, were recently released after a decade in prison along with the two other members of the San Antonio Four.

The Keller investigation was one of the last examples of the daycare panic but "very typical of previous cases" according to Mary deYoung, a sociology professor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan who has published extensively on moral panics and sexual abuse. Cultural shifts in the 1980s combined to foster a climate of fear, she said.

"There was a huge rise in Christian  fundamentalism that made the devil very real and insinuated the devil into a number of social problems ... and a rising interest in the country in the whole issue of trauma."

DeYoung said that suggestive and insistent interviewing strategies prompted children to make up stories and start to believe what they were telling the adults, and that the received wisdom was that children would not lie about such serious crimes. Media and parental pressure obliged the police to give credence even to risible allegations.

"There has been a kind of grudging acknowledgement [from the authorities] that things got out of hand," she said. "I'm not sure that we've learned anything that could prevent a similar moral panic springing up... for example over cyber threats."

[Ed: Disingenuous! Kenneth Lanning published the definitive official FBI report on 'Satanic Crime' in 1989 see 'Satanic, Occult, Ritualist Crime: A Law Enforcement Perspective'  by Kenneth Lanning of the National Center for the Analysis of Violet Crime at the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia.HERE:    which reviewed all then known cases and concluded that:

 "After all the hype and hysteria is put aside, the realisation sets in that most satanic or Occult activity involves the commission of NO crimes and that which does, usually involves the commission of relatively minor crimes such as trespassing, vandalism , animal cruelty and petty thievery."

This guidance paper was meant to educate ALL U.S. law enforcement personel. Why therefore should we not expect them to have avoided their own prejudices in future years?

In the U.K. the SAFF campaigned more forcefully for the truth about SRA and contributed to the government's definitive report on SRA published in 1994 -  THE EXTENT AND NATURE OF ORGANISED AND RITUAL ABUSE (Prof. J LaFontaine)  ISBN 0113217978 H.M.S.O. which concluded that satanic or ritual abuse was not present in any of the cases in Britain where 84 children were taken into care in dawn lifts during the panic here. ]

The Kellers, who are no longer married but remain close, plan to lead a quiet life in the Austin region, Hampton said.

Though they are free, they have not been formally declared innocent and in theory the state could still pursue a re-trial. As with the San Antonio Four, the case will head to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. There is no timeline for the court to examine it. Hampton said he will push for an exoneration that would allow the Kellers to pursue a claim for compensation.

He added that he is "absolutely convinced" that others have been imprisoned in similar cases based on questionable evidence. "It's the problem with basing convictions purely on the testimony of children," he said. "These cases will not stop. The problem is, how do you prove innocence?"

Source:  Tom Dart, in Houston, The Thursday 5 December 2013 21.39

Failed! not SRA_ Failed! not SRA _ :Failed! not SRA

A Catalogue of Hundreds of FAILED cases which the Satan-Hunters told you were real.

How the Guardian reported the exoneration of the Kellers

Key USA Satanic Ritual Abuse Case is overturned after 21 years.

Latest Miscarriages of Justice prove SRA never really existed in the first place.

The constant Satanic Ritual Abuse allegations from pro-SRA lobbyists, ( like Valerie Sinason an her RAIN [Ritual Abuse Information Network] group) can mislead the ordinary person into thinking that the existence of Satanic Ritual Abuse has been proven beyond doubt when in reality the facts of history show failure after failure in all the past cases where SRA has been claimed (see timeline below).  Despite the tremendous human suffering that this poisonous myth has caused to innocent parents and their kids over the past 25 years Valerie Sinason and RAINS and their buddies in the Child Scare Industry still continue to be given air-time by wicked media people who cannot resist the sensationalism of the subject in order to keep their ratings figures.  Of such is the evil of human history made.


The battle has become a propaganda war very similar to the one Josef Goebbels used to justify exterminating the Jews in Nazi Germany, where the masses of people who want to believe in their worst fears, focus in today's world, only on the outlandish and largely inaccurate, certainly unproven allegations from a close-knit band of trouble-making feminerapists whose madcap theories and accusations are used by the perennially voracious child care charities who seek to present an ever present epidemic of abuse which requires YOUR money to cure.

 The disgusting moral blackmail of the latest child-charity TV adverts which break all bounds of decency by showing starving children in the third world (scheduled for broadcast at mealtimes  in order to maximise viewer's guilt?) , most of which will go into the charities' multi-million pound advertising bill ;  is a sub-text of the Satanic Ritual Child Abuse Myth.  If you'll believe in SRA you'll believe anything they say.


Their conclusion is that children everywhere are at constant risk from abusers.  It's not true. In reality official statistics over the past thirty years show that only a relatively small and surprisingly stable percentage of the child population are  'at risk'  at any one time. Analysis indicates, sadly, that despite what any charity or campaigners promise you, this relatively small percentage of children will ALWAYS be at risk.  No child charity, including 'Britain's favourite charity' the NSPCC, can guarantee any relation between the amount of funding you give and how effective that might be in reducing the core 'at risk' population.

The Child Scare Industry relies upon astronomical statistical claims to persuade YOU the populace that there is a 'rising tide' of undiscovered abuse and that they (the child charities) could actually stop it if they had enough resources.  This is a downright lie and a national scandal to boot, but it will only stop when people stop trusting these organisations and start to question every claim they make.  

A classic illustration of this sequence is the NSPCC's new 'Baby P' fund where the public is asked to contribute money on the tacit understanding that it will somehow avoid any future cases like that of  'Baby P', a notorious case of child murder by dysfunctional parents.   The  NSPCC do not mention that in the equally notorious case of the long-term abuse and killing of Victoria Climbie her continuous abuse and death occurred whilst the poor girl was already registered with the NSPCC for help! (see nspcc.htm here for full details)

It is impossible for any of the child protection charities to equate an increase in donations with lives saved yet that is the tacit promise they constantly make to get public funding for their juggernaut organisations which waste millions on executive pay, mass advertising for more funds, and speculative projects,  not one of which can categorically be said to have improved protection for children pro-rata to it's cost.  However  laudable their aims may appear, it is just not cost effective, yet every year these glutinous charities demand more, and more, and more from the public.

With the tragic outcome of the Keller Case, where two innocent people were incarcerated for 21 years due to false Satanic Ritual Child Abuse allegations, the SRA myth can now clearly be seen in hindsight as a complete fabrication by radical feminerapists to aggrandise themselves and grease the cogs of the Child Scare Industry it is now time for a re-appraisal  so that you the public can get some distance on this issue and stop falling for their misrepresentations.

failed SRA casesHow much longer will the British Public sucker-in to this absurd myth before telling its promoters to push off?

In the face of this catalogue of mickey-mouse jurisprudence which has robbed completely innocent people of irreplaceable parts of their lives, the constant cacophony of  claims that SRA EXISTS by Valerie Sinason and her chums in RAIN can now be seen not as some moral crusade but as a social evil which preys consciously or unconsciously on vulnerable and misguided people to further the insatiable ends of the wealthy child scare industry.   We nominated a solution for this scare back in 1990.  We said that instead of allowing troublemakers in the UK social services to be covered by professional indemnity insurance and get off scott free they should be publicly tried in private prosecutions by the very people whose lives they had viciously destroyed.

In America they did this and new cases virtually stopped dead; 

 But in the U.K. various governments have dodged the issue and allowed the Satan Hunters in Social Work  to continue to cause trouble and tragedy. Their professional bodies who are supposed to police standards turned a blind eye.  The police, initially sceptical thank goodness, have now jumped on the bandwagon and liaise with the troublemakers.  After all this, anyone who thinks that Jimmy Savile was a Satanic Abuser should have their heads tested.

In Nazi Germany all that was required to murder over six million people was the tacit cooperation by the state in allowing and justifying the demonisation of the Jews.  Evil people could then do their worst.  In the 15 century witch-hunts the church gave credence to and tacit support of Inquisitions manned by evil bigots who killed 13 million innocent women and children across Europe.  If you think that this is all uncivilised history which we have gone beyond and that having an Iphone in your pocket makes you immune from these mass stupidities, think again. 

McMartin Case: - Failed! NOT SRA

In 1983 the McMartin pre-school hysteria began when a stupid dysfunctional mother, Judy Johnson believed her son had been abused using the 'trick' anal-dilation syndrome method of  ascribing  sexual abuse and stampeded the entire state of California into a witch-hunt which  lasted decades and put the innocent owners of the pre-school into prison for years, suffering thru  two trials which involved digging up the entire playground and foundations of the school with JCBs  to  find 'secret tunnels' underneath where the parents believed their kids had been satanically abused! 
There was absolutely no forensic evidence to qualify the ludicrous allegations being made and after numerous appeals the McMartins were released but you will still find voluminous claims all over the internet that it was a cover-up.  The Cleveland Case was the U.K. equivalent of this one and the hysterical act of digging over land for buried evidence had its counterpart in the digging up of the garden and cellars of the Jersey Haute de La Garenne children's home for bodies. An SRA falsity which is even yet ongoing  because those who believe in SRA cannot and will not desist and have hitched Haute de La Garenne to the  imagined satanic activites of Jimmy Savile! 
An official report ( JET report - see Broxtowe Case below) concluded: " In the USA the whole scenario of Satanic abuse started with the involvement of social worker Kee MacFairlane of the Los Angeles Children's Institute International Child Sexual Abuse Clinic in the McMartin Infant School case which erupted in August 1983.  This was closely followed by the Jordan Minnesota case in September 1983 in which the children alleged [Ed:under repetitive leading questioning by SS interrogators who were searching for evidence of SRA] that babies had been stabbed. Following these cases there was a rapid nationwide rash of similar Satanic abuse cases in more than a hundred cities.  MacFairlane and her assistants interviewed over 400 children and told them they could be junior detectives by telling the "yukky" secret but would be dummies if they did not admit they had been molested by their teachers.... in the University of Minnesota Law Review she called for unconventional interviewing methods 'that do whatever it takes to get children to talk' ....  After repeated interviewing produced statements about bizarre sex rituals in airplanes, hot air balloons, underground tunnels, graveyards, MacFarlaine told the press that the McMartin pre-school was part of a national network of kiddy pornographers and Satanists operating out of day care centres.  Criminal charges involving 41 children were eventually made  although the Police initially claimed that they had 36 other suspects and no less than 1200 victims.  A ten year old boy testifying in the case identified everyone from the City Attorney to a Priest and four Nuns as having molested him but later retracted.  The children claimed to have witnessed Devil worship in the Church, been taken by their captors to cemeteries, been given red or pink liquid to make them sleepy, been buried alive, seen naked priests cavorting in a secret cellar below the school, seen one of the teachers fly and observed three abusers dressed up as witches.  Interestingly some of thee disclosures bear a marked similarity to those of the Broxtowe children."

It was all fantasy but fools who have pinned their colours to the mast of SRA still maintain the total lack of evidence is a 'cover-up by people in high places'. 

Cleveland Case  - Failed! NOT SRA

  Those with long memories will remember that the first ever mass lifts of children by Social Workers in Cleveland in 1987 were prompted by over-enthusiastic child care workers fuelled by the anal dilation syndrome method used by two consultant paediatricians , Higgs and Richardson,  to identify cases of  'child abuse'.  (see McMartin above) The completely unreliable ADS caused a massive increase in the 'detection' of  so-called child abuse, the vast majority of which were totally unfounded.  Once in the hands of  the social services mafia, some of the children gave 'evidence' under 'disclosure' and mass child-lifts commenced. The usual clean-up and white-wash operation by the Establishment occurred after it all went belly up.  Much wringing of hands and the inevitable official public inquiry was held and accepted by all, except, it would seem, for Beatrix Campbell and a handful of others who have since fought to repudiate it under the banner of an organisation called C.A.U.S.E.  which kind of morphed into RAIN (Ritual Abuse Information Network)  The campaign was not , now, about whether the size or shape of a child's anus was a reliable guide to whether they had been abused or not, but about the fact that what the children  said in their 'disclosure' questioning, was not believed.  This is of course the KEY fundamental of  all witch-hunts.  Historically the acceptance of Spectral Evidence by courts during the witch crazes of the 15c allowed children to fantasise all manner of obviously ludicrous happenings which were taken as true by the courts and lead to the deaths of thousands of innocent adults. The same mechanic was evident in Salem and is clearly occurring today under the claims of  'ritual abuse'.    It was only when the courts began to reject Spectral Evidence that the 15c witch craze  began to abate.   After a number of court trials and public condemnation cases involving 96 of the 121 children alleged to be victims of sexual abuse were dismissed by the courts. The other 26 cases,  were found to have been incorrectly diagnosed by the crusading doctors involved.  -

It was all fantasy but fools who have pinned their colours to the mast of SRA still maintain the total lack of evidence is a 'cover-up by people in high places'.

Nottingham Broxtowe Case -  Failed!

Nottinghamshire Social Services investigations showed that the two key social workers involved in the Broxtowe so-called Satanic Ritual Abuse case (Christine Johnson and Judith Dawson ) which featured 20 abused children had come to the wrong conclusions and that there was no satanic or occult connection. This was eventually held to be the case by the court.  Yet this case has since been repetitively quoted as 'proof' of the existence of Satanic Child Abuse in conferences attended by social workers and child welfare professionals as well as police, and was the main feature of the now discredited Cook Report 'The Devil's Work' special which worked closely with the Notts SS team behind the allegations. But there was no evidence to prove that any occult connection existed.  

The Satanic Ritual Abuse aspect was enlivened when "Ms Johnston and Ms Dawson also contacted Dr Russell Blacker, a consultant psychiatrist who is secretary and founder of the Association of Christian Psychiatrists. ''They didn't know where to turn,'' he said.  Dr Blacker, based at a Cornish hospital, believes in the power of exorcism and says he also counsels adult survivors of Satanic abuse.", and he organised one of the early conferences on SRA to promote the idea. ( Source: The Independent  on Sunday August 12, 1990):
saffutube excerpt from Doorways to Danger
Judith Dawson , one of the team leaders of Notts. social work 'Team 4' and major player in the promotion of the link between Satanism and the Broxtowe case astonishingly appears in the Doorways to Danger fundamentalist video tract confirming the totally
unproven satanic abuse allegations and apparently contradicting her professional colleagues.  Click on the Saffutube image right and you can see her doing it in this video extract.  You will hear her saying:

"Jesus said let them not harm a hair on this child's head but Satanists do exactly the reverse. "

and you may question whether what Jesus is reported to have said 2,000 years ago is in any way useful or relevant to professional social services personnel when making value judgements on cases they have to handle today?   Or, in fact, how many Satanists Ms Dawson has actually met to be able to say that ALL Satanists are child abusers.

To see how influential Doorways to Danger became during the Satanic Panic and how it acted as a catalyst for most of the fundie claims about SRA Look Here

The SAFF uncovered evidence to show that another one of the social workers involved had a prior connection with fundamentalist groups who had hyped the satanic child abuse scenario and had appeared on a fundamentalist video quoting scriptural passages.

This 'coterie' of Christian activism at the centre of the Broxtowe case wasn't helped by the fact that the deputy director of Nottinghamshire Social Services (Andy Croall) eventually resigned under massive controversy and went to work with an OTT fundamentalist group holding Satan seminars on SRA for Christians! 

The Controversy over Andrew Croall, evangelical church leader and deputy
director of Nottingham Social Services (the department was heavily involved in
the first claimed Satanic Child Abuse case in 1988) erupted when he stated on
TV that abortion was a form of child abuse. After being suspended and then re-
instated he subsequently resigned to take up a major position with Caring
Professions Concern, a large group of Doctors, psychiatrists and nurses who
are evangelical Christians and who seek to uphold Holy Writ in their work.
Their policy on abortion is much the same as Andrew Croall's and some of their
number believe that patients should be 'exorcised' of demons before being

The report into the internal enquiry which admonished the social workers (The JET report) was initially kept secret but crusading work by  journalists resulted in it being made available on the net for everyone to see how ludicrous the allegations and actions of the social workers had been.  The Jet Report was one of the first landmarks in Internet Democracy and can still be seen here:

It is important to remember that the Broxtowe Case was the FIRST claimed SRA case in the U.K. and became pivotal to those who campaigned to try to convince the population that Satanic Ritual child abuse existed.  It didn't.  When the case came to court there was no satanic evidence and the JET inquiry rightly concluded that the social workers had been influenced by false fundamentalist material and allegations from the U.S.A.   However by the time this happened the Broxtowe case had been used as 'proof' of SRA so many times  in Satan seminars, conferences, news reports, documentaries and right across the internet, that those who had wrongly backed that horse simply continued to follow the fundamentalist line regardless of the facts and it was this which caused the waterfall of subsequent cases such as Rochdale and Orkney and many more besides.  For more on the Broxtowe case see here:

It was all fantasy but fools who have pinned their colours to the mast of SRA still maintain the total lack of evidence is a 'cover-up by people in high places'. 

Manchester Case - Failed! NOT SRA

Rochdale Langley Case - Failed!

Aberdeen/Strathclyde Case:  Failed!

Welsh Case -Failed! NOT SRA

Orkney Case  -Failed! NOT SRA

Epping Forest Case  - Failed!

Derbyshire Case  - Failed!

Ayrshire Case - Failed! NOT SRA

Dan and Fran Keller Case - Failed!

West Memphis Three Case -Failed!

Isle of Lewis Case  - Failed!

San Antonio Four Case - Failed! NOT

Jimmy Savile Case - Failed! NOT

How much longer are we going to listen to the poisonous and destructive lies of this absurd myth, invented by fundamentalist bigots, persued by the child scare charities to suit their own fundraising purposes, and perpetrated by academics and feminerapists on the make to expand their careers?


"West Memphis Three" freed after 18 years

Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET

JONESBORO, Ark. - Three men convicted in the nightmarish slayings of three Cub Scouts went free Friday, nearly two decades after they were sent to prison in a case so gruesome it raised suspicions the children had been sacrificed in a Satanic ritual.

Doubts about the evidence against the trio had persisted for years and threatened to force prosecutors to put on a second trial in 2012.

Instead, the so-called West Memphis Three were permitted to plead guilty to murder in exchange for time served, ending a long long-running legal battle that had raised questions about DNA and witnesses — and attracted support from celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Eddie Vedder.

Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin and Jessie Misskelley entered the pleas under a legal provision that allowed them to maintain their innocence while acknowledging prosecutors have enough evidence to convict them.

"Although I am innocent, this plea is in my best interest," Misskelley said.

Echols had been on Arkansas' death row and in 1994 came within three weeks of execution. All three men were placed on 10 years' unsupervised probation. If they re-offend, they could be sent back to prison for 21 years.

Release "overwhelming" for West Memphis Three

Prosecutor Scott Ellington said it would be "practically impossible after 18 years to put on a proper trial in this case. I believe this case is closed, and there are no other individuals involved."

The victims' families were notified about the pact ahead of time but were not asked to approve it.

After Friday's hearing, Baldwin told reporters that he had been reluctant to plead guilty to crimes he didn't commit. But he agreed to the deal to get Echols off death row.

"That's not justice, however you look at it," he said.

Echols thanked Baldwin and called his release "overwhelming."

"It's not perfect," he said of the arrangement. "It's not perfect by any means. But it at least brings closure to some areas and some aspects."

He said the three would continue to work to clear their names.

Circuit Judge David Laser acknowledged the case was complex, and that both the victims' families and the supporters of the three men had suffered. He said Friday's deal would serve justice "the best we can."

"I don't think it will make the pain go away," Laser said.

One person yelled "Baby killers" as the three left the courtroom.

The killings were particularly shocking. The boys — Steve Branch, Christopher Byers and Michael Moore — were found naked and hogtied, and rumors of Satanism roiled the community in the weeks following their deaths. Branch and Moore drowned in about 2 feet of water; Byers bled to death and his genitals were mutilated and partially removed.

Because Echols wore black and listened to heavy metal music, investigators believed the murders were part of a satanic ritual, "48 Hours Mystery" correspondent Erin Moriarty reports.

More from "48 Hours"
Video: Depp says "Free the West Memphis 3"
Video: Damien Echols interview excerpts
Video: Damien Echols on cult theories

Police had few leads until receiving a tip that Echols had been seen covered in mud the night the boys disappeared. The big break came when Misskelley unexpectedly confessed and implicated Baldwin and Echols in the killings.

(At left, watch a "48 Hours" report on the West Memphis Three)

"Then they tied them up, tied their hands up," Misskelley told police in a statement, parts of which were tape-recorded. After describing sodomizing and other violence, he went on: "And I saw it and turned around and looked, and then I took off running. I went home. Then they called me and asked me, `How come I didn't stay? I told them, I just couldn't."'

Misskelley, then 17, later recanted, and defense lawyers said he got several parts of the story incorrect. An autopsy found there was no definite evidence of sexual assault. Misskelley had said the older boys abducted the Scouts in the morning, when they had actually been in school all day.

Misskelley was tried separately, convicted of first- and second-degree murder, and sentenced to life in prison plus 40 years. He refused to testify against the others, and his confession was not used as evidence.

Defense lawyers for Echols and Baldwin alleged juror misconduct, saying they heard about the Misskelley confession anyway. Attorneys also said there wasn't enough physical evidence linking the three to the crime scene.

The Arkansas Supreme Court upheld Echols' conviction and death sentence in 1996, saying there was still enough other evidence to sustain it.

A 1996 HBO documentary, "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills," drew the attention of celebrities including Vedder and Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Dixie Chicks. They and other celebrities helped fund a legal team that worked to win the three a new trial.

"Why are they innocent?" Vedder said in an interview with The Associated Press last year. "Because there's nothing that says they're guilty."

On Friday, Echols' wife, Lorri, sat in the front row of a crowded courtroom, next to the Pearl Jam frontman. Vedder put his arm around her during the proceedings.


San Antonio 4' speak out after prison release: 'We're actually innocent'

The San Antonio 4 talk about the pain of missing family while they spent more than a decade in prison.

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – They didn’t get to watch their children grow up into young adults. They missed saying goodbye to grandparents, and in one case, a father, before those loved ones passed away.

But three women who were released from prison on Monday after spending more than a decade behind bars – for crimes they say they didn’t commit – said they relished their new-found freedom and would continue fighting for their full exoneration.

“I got to meet my son for the first time since he was 4,” said Liz Ramirez, 39, who along with the other women spoke with NBC News on Tuesday in their first interview since their release. “It was an amazing feeling, being in his arms.”

Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, 40, and Cassandra Rivera, 38, along with Anna Vasquez, 38, were found guilty of molesting two girls in alleged assaults in 1994 that an expert has described as reminiscent of the Satanic ritual day care abuse cases of the 1980s and early 1990s. The women, known nationally as the “San Antonio 4,” always maintained their innocence. On Monday, after the district attorney agreed the group was entitled to a new trial on the grounds that recent scientific advances undermined testimony pivotal to their convictions, Ramirez, Mayhugh and Rivera were released on bond. Vasquez was paroled last year.

“I couldn’t sleep last night. I couldn’t believe I was here,” said Rivera, a mother of two who met her granddaughter for the first time Monday night. Rivera said she found herself staring at her 20-something son and daughter, who were just 9 and 8 years old when she first went to prison nearly 14 years ago. “I can’t believe they’re with me,” she said.

John Brecher / NBC News

Cassandra Rivera, center, relaxes with her mother and brother on Nov. 19 in San Antonio, Texas, one day after being released from prison.

Other moments have been more bittersweet. Ramirez said her mother told her about her dad’s final moments three years ago when he died at age 84. Ramirez had been on the phone with him from prison, and told him she and the others wouldn’t give up their bid for exoneration.

“My mom told me that a tear came out of his eye, and I said, ‘I love you, daddy’ and he took his last breath,” she said. “I do want to go see his grave and I want to just tell him, ‘Daddy we didn’t give up and that we’re all home.'”

What sent the women to prison – Ramirez received a 37.5-year sentence and the others each got 15 years – were allegations of abuse leveled by Ramirez’s two young nieces, then 7 and 9 years old. The girls accused the four friends of sexually assaulting them twice in late July 1994 while they were visiting Ramirez at her apartment.

The women’s lawyer, Michael Ware, said the trial transcripts showed inconsistencies in the testimony given by the girls. But the crucial witness was a doctor who testified that the older girl’s hymen bore a scar that could only have come from abuse around the time of the alleged attacks, Ware said.

That finding was debunked on Monday, when the Bexar County Criminal District Attorney's office and Ware said that scientific advances undermined the doctor’s testimony, leading to the three women’s release from prison. The women now await a decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on whether to grant them a new trial. If that happens, the district attorney will decline to prosecute them, and their convictions would be overturned, said Rico Valdez, the chief assistant criminal attorney who oversees the office's post-conviction review.

The new scientific information was allowed to be presented under a "junk science" law passed in Texas earlier this year that gives defendants the chance to submit findings that may cast doubt on their conviction.

The agreement between the attorneys was a huge breakthrough for the women, who had felt they were railroaded at trial, partly because they are lesbians.

The women known as the "San Antonio 4" have been released from prison and are now fighting for exoneration for a crime they say was never committed.'s Miranda Leitsinger joins to discuss.

During their time in prison, they had sent letter after letter to innocence groups and anyone who they thought could help them win exoneration. Along the way, they received many rejection letters and had many false starts.

The women, who weren’t incarcerated in the same facilities, described having to fend for themselves in prison (Vasquez and Ramirez were at the same correctional center for a short time).

Ramirez, the first to go to prison nearly 17 years ago, said she had never been in trouble in her life and was at first scared behind bars. Other inmates knew that she had been convicted of molesting girls and threatened to hurt her. But one reached out. “She took me under her wing and protected me and she kind of schooled me, as they say, about prison and told me, ‘you go do your time, this is how you go do it,'” she said.

Vasquez and Rivera, who entered prison three years after Ramirez, said a woman in their initial unit wanted to jump them until she heard their side of the story: they told her they were falsely accused.

The group ended up doing the same with other inmates, but some still called them child molesters, Rivera said. “I still walked with my head held high because I knew I was innocent. We were innocent,” she said. “We know what happened, and the truth is going to eventually come out.”

The women could have avoided prison. Plea deals were offered, but they refused to accept them on the grounds that they were innocent. Rivera, Mayhugh and Vasquez could have left prison earlier, too, if they agreed to participate in a sex offender treatment program, which they all rejected.

“It was difficult to accept to be put in that same category as … real sex offenders,” said Vasquez, who couldn’t drive near places where children gather – like McDonald’s or church – under restrictions imposed after being paroled one year ago (those were lifted Tuesday morning).

Their imprisonment didn’t just take a toll on the women, their families endured hardship, too.

John Brecher / NBC News

Cassandra Rivera hugs her son Michael on Nov. 19, his 22nd birthday and her first full day out of prison in nearly 14 years. "I made it in time for your birthday," she told him Monday just after her release.

Ramirez is re-connecting with her son, now 18, who grew up with his dad. She said he didn't want to expose him to prison, so her son didn't visit her there.

“Sometimes as a mother you have to give a sacrifice just so that he won't have to go through what we’ve been through over all the years," she said through tears.

But mother and son are swiftly making up for lost time. They had their first interaction on Monday night over pizza for dinner. Ramirez said she tried to make him feel comfortable, but they were both a little nervous.

"He didn’t know how to be around me or even know what to say. It was kind of hard," she said. "But it’s okay, just kind of take it one step at a time."

The women started to make progress getting their story heard in 2008 when a Canadian fish biologist took interest in their case. He then convinced the National Center for Reason and Justice, a watchdog group dedicated to identifying false allegations of harm to children, to get involved. Next was the Innocence Project of Texas and Ware, a former member of the Conviction Integrity Unit in Dallas.

About two years ago, the alleged younger victim, Stephanie Martinez, 26, began to question if the attacks really happened. She eventually recanted her story to the media.

Martinez said she came to realize: “My aunt never hurt us. She was a mom to us,” she said late Monday as she waited in her car for the group to emerge from jail. “It didn’t happen.” She recalled that week in 1994 with her “Tia Lisa” and her three friends: Liz making her and her sister a great breakfast, going swimming and playing with neighbor kids.

“I want to apologize to them. It's hard,” she said, breaking down into tears. “I’m sorry for everything. I should have just spoken out a long time ago when I was a kid.”

Martinez said she would help however she could with the group’s bid to get a full exoneration and hopes she can still have a relationship with her aunt. “If she would want to have one with me after everything,” she said. “I want her to be a part of my children’s life just how she was a part of mine.”

Martinez’s older sister maintains the attack still happened. The four women said they don’t blame the girls and applauded Martinez for coming forward.

“I believe it was a brave thing for her to do. I’m very, very proud of her,” Rivera said.

Ramirez said she would accept her niece with open arms, “because that’s what love does. It’s unconditional.”

The women, who couldn’t have contact with each other in prison, enjoyed re-connecting since their release. They considered themselves family nearly 20 years ago – and that hasn't changed.

“The comfort was still there,” Rivera said. “It’s falling right back into place, because we’re family.”

The next part of their journey will be pursuit of “actual innocence,” which is possible under Texas state law, though Ware said winning such a declaration was extremely rare. But the women said there is no stopping them.

“We want actual innocence because that’s what we are,” said Mayhugh, who spent nearly 14 years in prison. “We’re actually innocent.”


If you Want any more proof of the evil effects of the Satanic Ritual Abuse Myth you are in a complete state of denial.

By John Freedom,

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