In 1994, four young women in San Antonio, Texas were accused of sexually assaulting two sisters who were aged 7 and 9 years old at the time. All four women were convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. Three women were sentenced to 15 year in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, while the girls’ aunt received a 37.5 year sentence. One of the girls (now 25 years old) has recanted her story and has declared that the crime never happened.
In the summer of 1994, the two sisters were staying with their aunt, Elizabeth Ramirez, in San Antonio, Texas. Two months later Ramirez was shocked to learn that her nieces had told their father that Ramirez and three other women sexually assaulted them and their friends. Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera, and Anna Vasquez have stated over and over again that they are innocent. All four women refused to take plea bargains. Ramirez was tried in 1997, while Mayhugh, Rivera, and Vasquez were tried together in 1998.
The trials themselves were a witch hunt full of junk science and homophobia. In the 1980s and 1990s the United States was gripped by a rash of claims sexual abuse and satanic rituals performed on children. All across the country people were accused of horrific acts against minors. Many were convicted on nothing more than the testimony of the alleged young victims. Over the years, it has been proved that many of the accusations were false and many innocent people paid for crimes they never committed.
All four women in this case are lesbians. In the trials of Ramirez and her friends, the prosecution fed into the false stereotype of homosexuals as sexual deviants. Anti-gay views of the jury at the Ramirez trial were made clear by the foreman, a minister, who stated that homosexuality was a sin. Despite the lack of any physical evidence, the Bexar County District Attorney’s Office who prosecuted the case painted these young women as monsters to the jury.
Dr. Nancy Kellogg, the pediatrician who examined the girls, was and is medical director of Child Safe San Antonio, Texas. The girls were examined two months after the incidence and many of the medical evidence was inconclusive. She noted that the attack was probably part of a satanic ritual, but she had absolutely no proof that the girls were involved in a sadistic ritual abuse.
Every time the young girls were interviewed about the incident, their accounts of the incident changed. They could not remember the time of day or how many people were involved. They stated at different times that there was a knife or a gun or no weapon at all.
All four women were convicted on the accusations of two kids. Kids can, and do, lie for a number of reasons. However, in court defendants face an uphill battle because there is a perception that kids will not lie in court – that they understand the seriousness of the situation. Studies have found that most kids demonstrate a conceptual knowledge of lying and truth-telling but they still lie. Just because a person (young or old) understands the concepts of right and wrong does not exclude them from lying.
There was no physical evidence of the alleged abuse and the girls could not keep the details for the crime straight. The youngest niece, Stephanie, has now changed her story and is recanting her accusation.
Recently, with the help of the Texas Innocence Project and defense attorneys, the San Antonio Four have received media attention across the United States. This website is dedicated to the womens’ cases and lists all recent articles and videos with links to the websites.
If you or a loved one has been accused or convicted of sexual assault of a child, it is important that you contact an experienced lawyer immediately. Contact the Law Office of Dayna L. Jones at (210) 255-8525 to schedule an appointment with the attorney. Calls are answered 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.