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San Antonio Four jubilant following release
QSanAntonio.com, November 20, 2013

Three lesbian women, imprisoned for more than a decade on child sex abuse charges, were released on bail at a hearing in the 175th District Court in San Antonio on November 18. Supporters of the women packed the courtroom and cheered loudly when the judge announced the terms of their release.

Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassie Rivera and Kristie Mayhugh along with a fourth woman, Anna Vasquez, were convicted in 1997-98 of abusing two girls, then 7 and 9 years old – both nieces of Elizabeth Ramirez.

Known nationwide as the San Antonio Four, all were sentenced to long prison terms; Ramirez to 37-and-a-half years, the others drew 15 year sentences. Vasquez served 13 years of her 15 year sentence and was paroled last year under severe restrictions.

The four women refused plea offers and always asserted their innocence. A 2010 front page investigative report by Michelle Mondo of the San Antonio Express-News spotlighted serious problems with the convictions.

In 2012, one of the victims publicly recanted her allegations, giving a big boost to the fight to clear the women’s names.

Recently, Bexar County prosecutor Susan D. Reed conceded publicly that key evidence, a pediatrician’s testimony for the prosecution claiming evidence of trauma on the children’s genitals --crucial to the convictions—was based on outdated and discredited scientific research, so-called junk science.

The case, with dubious evidence, and sex abuse, sexual orientation, and race issues swirling, has drawn attention from national media outlets including The New York Times.

The San Antonio Four have found increasing community support as Texans, including LGBT community members, have rallied to their defense.

The campaign to free the women got going by chance: A man in the Yukon stumbled across the case online, spent time to learn more and took up their cause. Searching widely for expert help he contacted National Center for Reason and Justice. Debbie Nathan, a board member, reviewed the trial record and case files – which contain a sensational reference to Satanism—and concluded the women were wrongly convicted.

The NCRJ was first to uncover the role of junk science in the case and got lawyers Jeff Blackburn of the Innocence Project of Texas along with IPTX board member Michael Ware of Fort Worth, and Keith S. Hampton of Austin, to take up what has become a years-long legal fight.

Photos of San Antonio Four press conference by Esperanza Peace & Justice Center

On Wednesday morning the women spoke publicly for the first time at a press conference. It was unbelievable," Rivera told KENS-TV. "I was able to meet my grand-baby. I mean, it was overwhelming. It was almost unreal."

According to a report in the San Antonio Express-News, "The decision to release the three women now wasn't surprising because District Attorney Susan Reed and the women's defense team had already agreed to the terms of the release. Their case will now wind its way through the court system, which could take years, while they remain free."

The case now goes to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. "This isn't over," an attorney for the women told KENS-TV. "The San Antonio Four haven't been exonerated, and they deserve to be."

What happened in San Antonio is not unique. In a press release, the NCRJ says it has noticed that many people falsely accused of abusing children have been lesbian or gay, or presumed to be so.

Freedom for 'San Antonio Four' overdue
Editorial, San Antonio Express-News, November 22, 2013
fter years of imprisonment, three of the “San Antonio Four” have finally stepped back into the world, returning into the arms of friends and family.

'S.A. 4' release just the beginning, lawyers say
MySA.com, November 21, 2013
This week's release of the final three members of the “San Antonio Four” is the first concrete example of how Texas' new “junk science” law might shake up the criminal justice system, lawyers said Wednesday as the women held their first press conference together.

DA drops 'S.A. Four' cases
MySA.com, November 18, 2013
Three of the four San Antonio women fighting to clear their names in a 1994 alleged sexual assault of two girls could be released on bond by a state district judge Monday.