Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Another Explanation

At this point I have read through over a thousand pages of documentation, and spent several hundred hours researching, and talking to those involved in this case. I think I am starting to get a clear idea of exactly what went on.

The most common belief of everyone involved in this case is that Javier Limon coached his daughters into making allegations of sexual abuse against Elizabeth and her friends as retaliation because she refused his offer of marriage. Based on Javier's character and history that scenario is easy enough to believe. He certainly had motive and he also had a history of making false allegations of sexual abuse against his daughters as a method of intimidation. He had earlier accused Rosa's new boyfriend of molesting the girls when he wanted to get custody and take them back to San Antonio. However, in spite of all that he still deserves the presumption of innocence until there is direct evidence of his having actually done the things people are accusing him of. Just because he is capable of doing something doesn't make him guilty.

The possibility that has not been considered in any depth is that the girls spontaneously made up the story. As I continue to learn more about this case that option becomes increasingly plausible. Remember that they had previously been sexually assaulted by a 10-year-old boy who was babysitting them, several years previously in Colorado. These girls were by no means naive about details of what sexual assault entailed. Also, while in Colorado they had seen their father threaten their mother by holding a gun to her head. The two major elements of their allegations against Elizabeth and her friends, the sexual assault and being threatened with a gun, had been part of their life experience. When their grandmother caught them acting out sexually with their dolls she scolded them for their behavior. In her statement the grandmother says the first thing she asked the girls was "Did something happen to you at Aunt Liz' house?" That was certainly a leading question, and is probably homophobically motivated and related to the fact that most of the family did not approve of Elizabeth's friends or her "lifestyle". As a guilt response to their behavior the girls could well have responded to their grandmother's leading question by making up a story about being sexually assaulted by Elizabeth and her friends. Despite their innocent appearance, these two little girls were street-wise and grew up in a very dysfunctional home with a father who was a chronic liar. According to their mother both girls were persistent and accomplished liars for their age.

This certainly wouldn't be the first time that children have made up stories about being assaulted. Oftentimes in follow-up interviews children are "helped" with the details of their fabricated story by well-meaning interviewers, until the child can no longer distinguish the truth from the story. It is now standard procedure in these cases to videotape initial interviews with children to ensure that no leading questions are asked. Unfortunately in this case the initial interviews were conducted by the San Antonio Police who stated at Elizabeth's trial that videotaping interviews was not their policy. So we may never know what happened in that crucial first interview.

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