Sexual assault victim recants after 16 years

Woman recants accusation of sex assault – San Antonio Express-News.

Sitting in the prison where she’s spent nearly half of her life, Elizabeth Ramirez is stunned by the words that could help exonerate her and three friends of the sexual assault of her two nieces, a crime she said she couldn’t fathom let alone commit.

It never happened, one niece now says of the debauched, orgy-like nightmare that she and her older sister described to San Antonio police in 1994 when they were 7 and 9.

“I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I’m going to do. I can’t live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”

On and off the witness stand, the sisters changed their accounts of the timing, the use of weapons, the perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities, records show.

It was one of several red flags raised in the Express-News investigation published in December 2010 that also delved into concerns about the scientific legitimacy of medical evidence used against the women, whether anyone looked into a previous rape allegation made by the girls and if anti-gay views prejudiced Ramirez’s jury.


The graphic tale told by witnesses, sparked concerns about Satanism. It occurred at the tail end of the Satanic Panic, a widespread concern largely prompted by a fictional book about Satanic Ritual Abuse. But, it was not true:

A study published in 1992 by Kenneth V. Lanning—a Supervisory Special Agent at the FBI Academy—came to the same conclusion: there is no good evidence for a single case of SRA. Lanning has investigated SRA since 1981.

If there are thousands of baseless accusations, how do they originate? Most of them are said to originate with children. Since there is a widespread belief that children wouldn’t make up stories of eating other children or being forced to have sex with giraffes after flying in an airplane while they were supposed to be in day care, the stories are often taken at face value by naive prosecutors, therapists, police officers, and parents. Yet, the researchers found that children are unlikely to invent stories of satanic ritual abuse on their own. They get lots of help from therapists, district attorneys, police investigators, and parents. There is ample evidence that therapists and law enforcement personnel encourage and reward children for accepting the suggestions of bizarre abusive behavior. They also discourage truth by refusing to accept no for an answer and forcing children to undergo interrogations until the interrogator gets what he or she is after.

Not only that but the physical evidence was lacking since the children were only examined months later. Eyewitness testimony, which clearly helped convict these women, is notoriously unreliable.

What an awful mess was made of all these lives based on what? Potential lies and misinformation? Faulty evidence? If so, chalk up more victims to a manufactured crime. It’s not clear if the recant of the testimony will lead to their exoneration.


  8 comments for “Sexual assault victim recants after 16 years

  1. kiljoy616
    September 17, 2012 at 10:47 AM

    I doubt they will be let go, until some top lawyers get behind this nothing will happen to these women. The sad reality is how much of their lives are gone.

  2. Geoff
    September 17, 2012 at 11:33 AM

    Out of curiosity, I wonder what would prompt the children to spin such a tale? I think the incarcerated women deserve an answer to that though I’m sure they would satisfied just to be exonerated.

    Liberty and justice for all. Yeah.

  3. Massachusetts
    September 17, 2012 at 5:23 PM

    Geoff, the article talks about adults who keep interrogating children, asking them leading questions and putting pressure on them until they start to conform to a given line of inquiry leading towards sexual assault. This occurred during a time when society had just discovered in a broad sense that sexual assaults and molestation occur on a broader scale, and suddenly therapists and investigators were seeing it every where, regardless of the evidence. It’s a lot like the witch trials of the middle ages.

  4. Old Muley
    September 17, 2012 at 7:37 PM

    I just love that you included a picture of “Pitch and Lupita” in the sidebar!

  5. September 19, 2012 at 11:23 AM

    It’s too bad the public’s perception of Satanism is still colored by Satanic Panic, even though no cases of SRA, animal sacrifice, or ritual murder has ever been tied to a practicing Satanist – only pseudo- or delusional “Satanists”. I’m not Satanic myself but have been friends for many years with a man who is a Magister and the Northeast Media Representative for the Church of Satan. I think learning the truth about Satanism and the lives of most Satanists would be a terrible let-down to those who sensationalize them.

  6. September 19, 2012 at 11:32 AM

    I often recommend the Point of Inquiry podcast episode from years back where DJ interviewed a Satanist. I learned a lot from that.

    Satanism really scares the hell into people and what they know is mostly fiction.

  7. November 21, 2013 at 11:23 AM

    I wondered why the apparently exonerated women were not declared innocent, versus the more conservative “vacating” of the verdict. Further reading of one of the news accounts indicates one contributing reason: if they were declared innocent, or retried and found innocent, they would be able to collect money that Texas pays to the wrongfully imprisoned.

    It would be interesting to see what the other, unnamed niece has to say about this.

Comments are closed.