Thursday, August 29, 2013

(New post following seasonal break): Fran Keller; Texas. Austin Chronicle asks if her conviction of ritual sexual abuse can stand without physical evidence, in a story on the appeal;

STORY:"Can Keller conviction stand without physical evidence? Hearing in Austin ritual abuse case questions evidence of sexual abuse," by Jordan Smith, published in the Austin Chronicle on August 27, 2013.

GIST: "When a child is sexually abused, there isn't necessarily physical evidence to prove any abuse happened. But whether the lack of any physical evidence of abuse is significant in the case of Fran Keller, convicted of sexually assaulting a child left in her care back in 1991, is a central issue in an appeal of that case currently pending in a Travis County court. Fran Keller was sentenced to 48 years in prison for allegedly sexually abusing a 3-year-old girl, Christy Chaviers, who in 1991 was an infrequent drop-in at the home-based daycare Fran and her husband Dan Keller ran out of their Oak Hill home. (Dan was also convicted and sentenced to 48 years. The current appeal has been filed on Fran's behalf, but will impact Dan's conviction as well.) .........The Kellers were among hundreds of daycare workers across the country accused in the Eighties and early Nineties as being part of satanic cults that abused children taken by their parents to daycare facilities. In 2008, the Chronicle began a reinvestigation of the case against the Kellers and found that there was, in fact, scant evidence that any children had been abused by the Kellers, let alone any evidence of satanic ritual abuse. Indeed, the only physical evidence that suggested Christy had been abused came in the form of testimony from a then-novice Brackenridge emergency room doctor, Michael Mouw, who examined Christy in August 1991. In the fall of 1992, Mouw testified in court that in examining Christy he found deformities to her hymen and to her posterior fourchette – a tender fold of skin on the rear of the vagina near the anus. Those deformities – described as possible lacerations to the hymen and a tear of the fourchette – could be signs of sexual abuse, he said. That determination was confirmed by pediatrician Beth Nauert, a local expert in child sexual abuse who expounded on Mouw's findings in her trial testimony. Notably, Nauert examined Christy some two weeks after Mouw and found no signs of any deformities......... When he was contact by us for what eventually became our 2009 cover story on the case ("Believing the Children," March 27, 2009), Mouw said that not long after he testified at the Kellers' 1992 hearing he realized that what he thought were injuries were in fact "normal variants" of female genitalia. "At the time, in good faith, I saw something [I thought] was abnormal" about Christy's hymen, he told us for that story. But with more experience and education, that is not what he now concludes. Mouw's about-face, meaning he provided during the 1992 trial what he now knows to be erroneous medical testimony, is among the claims for relief included in an exhaustive writ filed in January on Fran Keller's behalf by Austin defense attorney Keith Hampton. Put simply, Mouw's more erudite consideration of the case has not only eliminated the only piece of physical evidence to suggest that Kellers abused Christy, but also the only concrete evidence that any crime ever happened. Mouw's changed opinion took center stage at a hearing Tuesday afternoon before retired District Judge Wilford Flowers, who as an elected judge presided over the Kellers' original trial."

The entire story can be found at:

See KUT story:  "Texas couple appeals sentence for satanic ritual abuse."  "The Kellers steadfastly maintain their innocence. An alleged child victim denied her claim of abuse. And Doug Perry,  an associate of the Kellers, recanted his story  to investigators that he and two friends had participated in sexual activities at the Keller’s day care center – claiming he’d been coerced by the police. Nearly two dozen years after their conviction, the Kellers have filed a Writ of Habeus Corpus that could lead to the end of their prison sentences. A path to exoneration may require another hearing, but the Kellers’ attorney Keith Hampton hopes to have the couple released – and moved back to Travis County within the next few months. If he is successful, Fran and Dan Keller may see one another for the first time in 23 years."

Dear Reader. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog. We are following this case.
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The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:

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Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.

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