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Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Back issues
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Lesbians Convicted on Junk Science Freed

SAN ANTONIO (CN) - The last of the so-called San Antonio Four, lesbians who were convicted based on "junk science" of sexually assaulting two children, were freed Monday.

Judge Mary Roman of the 175th District Court reportedly released Elizabeth Ramirez, 39, Cassandra Rivera, 38, and Kristie Mayhugh, 40, on bond after the defense and Bexar County prosecutors reached an agreement.

"For all those who are here to support the 'San Antonio Four' we appreciate you coming," defense attorney Mike Ware told the crowd outside the courtroom, as reported by the San Antonio Express-News. "The paperwork has been signed and the women will be released on [a no-payment-required] signature bond."

The fourth defendant Anna Vasquez, 38, was paroled last year.

They were arrested in 1994 after two of Ramirez's nieces, ages 7 and 9 at the time, accused them of sexual assault. The attack allegedly took place during an alcohol and drug-fuel rampage at Ramirez's apartment.

Ramirez, the accused ringleader, and was sentenced to over 37 years in state prison in 1997. Her friends were convicted in 1998 and began serving their sentences in 2000.

The cases against the San Antonio Four are some of the first to be questioned in Texas under a law enacted in June that allows state judges to overturn verdicts based on scientific evidence that has since been debunked.

During the defendants' trials, expert witness Dr. Nancy Kellogg testified that one of the victims had a scar on her hymen that was a result of a tear caused by physical trauma. Kellogg now says her testimony was inaccurate and is contradicted by an American Academy of Pediatrics study in 2007 that concluded hymen injuries do not leave scars, according to a petition filed by Ware.

"They were four gay women and I think in Bexar County in the mid-nineties the prevalent belief was probably 'they're gay, they're capable of anything'," Ware told the Guardian. "They were gay and that made them 'the other' and that made these preposterous allegations believable to some people."

Furthermore, one of the victims recanted her claims last year.

"I can't take back what I did, but if I could talk to all of them in one room I would just say I'm sorry," she told the Express-News in 2012. "I'm sorry for ruining them."

After Monday's hearing, Vasquez learned that she was also included in the deal for the bond. After her release last year, she was placed under several parole restrictions for sex offenders that prevented her from visiting her father or seeking relatives, including a niece and nephew.

"I'm exhilarated," Vasquez told the Express-News after the hearing." It was very unexpected."

The defendants' cases are to be reviewed by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the highest criminal court in the state. Possible outcomes include the ordering of a new trial or the dismissal of all charges. Prosecutors filed a motion for new trial in October.

Follow @davejourno
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