Melvin Quinney

Time Served: 8 Years

Indecency with a Child
20 Years


In 1990, while Mr. Quinney and his wife were going through a divorce, she contacted authorities claiming her husband was the leader of a cult who had committed multiple murders as part of Satanic rituals. Their son John and daughter Sarah were taken into custody by Child Protective Services and interviewed over several weeks by numerous law enforcement officials and therapists specializing in “Satanic ritual abuse.”

Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s, conspiracy theories about cults committing child abuse spread around the country. The phenomenon became known as the Satanic Panic. Fears were fanned by news programs and talk shows.  A cottage industry developed of social workers, therapists and law enforcement officials specializing in cults and ritual abuse.  Hundreds of allegations of ritual abuse were investigated with many cases collapsing for lack of evidence.  The entire Satanic Panic that resulted in many innocent people, such as Melvin, being wrongfully convicted and imprisoned, has now been thoroughly debunked.

Arrest & Trial

After weeks of coercion from therapists, their mother and other adults, Sarah and John developed “memories” of abuse and occult rituals.  John came to believe that their father was the leader of a satanic cult that had committed murder and sexually abused him and his sister Sarah as part of satanic rituals.  Melvin was arrested in 1990 and charged with indecency with a child.  John testified at trial about his “memories” of his father’s abuse of himself and Sarah.  Like so many other Satanic Panic cases, the outlandish stories of murder and occult rituals from the children were not part of the trial. Melvin was convicted in July of 1991 and sentenced to 20 years in prison.


Melvin was released from prison in 1999 and required to register as a sex offender. For many years, he had no contact with his children.  John and Sarah continued to believe into early adulthood that the “memories” that resulted from their childhood coercion were real.  Melvin did not know how to get in touch with his children and was nervous to try and contact them.

In 2012, he posted a photo to Facebook asking his children to reach out to him.  His youngest son, Matthew, who was only a few weeks old when Melvin’s ordeal began, got in touch.  Slowly, Melvin reconnected with his children and they began to work on healing from their shared trauma.


In 2020, Melvin’s children reached out to IPTX for help in clearing their father’s name.  IPTX and the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office joined in presenting a petition for a writ of habeas corpus to the district court asking that Melvin’s conviction be vacated. An evidentiary hearing in the case was held in June of 2022. During the hearing, the district court heard testimony of Melvin’s innocence from John and Sarah, as well as experts in psychology and the Satanic Panic.

The writ was approved by the court and sent to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in September of 2022.  On February 15, 2023, the Court of Criminal Appeals granted the writ and vacated Melvin’s conviction.

Systemic Failures Have Wrongly
Imprisoned Thousands of
Innocent Texans.

The Generosity of Their Fellow Citizens Can Provide Them
The Freedom They Deserve.

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