Sunday, December 21, 2008

Texas Pilgrimage 2008

On December 11, 2008 I flew out of Whitehorse and started my second (annual?) pilgrimage to Texas. I had been looking forward to visiting with Elizabeth and the others, as well as their families, and making other contacts in the State while I was there. Maintaining contact with the four women is important for a number of reasons. For Elizabeth, with another 25 years on her sentence, losing herself in the Texas prison system and her connections with the "free world" is a very real threat with disastrous consequences. Because of the distance I travel I am able to get a "special visit" consisting of two four-hour sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Normally visits are for two hours once per weekend. Since I am a non-family member visits are made with a sheet of plate glass between us talking through a telephone receiver. Having this face-to-face communication is important. Virtually all of my contact with the four women has been through letters sent in the mail. Because of the distance between Marlin, Texas and Whitehorse, Yukon that entails up to 3 weeks for a set of letters, and any questions and answers, to be exchanged. Clarity of communication becomes paramount in that situation. After the patience required of snail mail, instant communication feels like a luxury almost too good to be true. Inmate telephones are scheduled to be installed in Texas prisons in 2009, but there are questions whether or not they will be able to call into Canada.

This year I only got to visit with Elizabeth and Kristie. Texas inmates are only allowed to make a change to their visitor's list every six months. Unfortunately Cassie had just made a change to her list back in September when I first informed her I was coming. I went to Mountain View on Saturday morning on the chance they might let me in anyways. To his credit the officer at the gate did his job, stuck to the rules, and refused the visit. Anna and Elizabeth are both at the Hobby Unit near Marlin, Texas. For some reason I was under the impression that it was against the rules to visit two people on the same Unit. Because of that I didn't send Anna my information so she could put me on her list. I was later informed that it is permissible to visit two people on the same Unit, but it was too late to get me on the list. Felt bad about that because I really would have liked to have met Anna, and Cassie as well. It was poor planning on my part and next year I will have this all sorted out.

It has been almost 3 years since Elizabeth and I started exchanging letters. Finding her letter in my mailbox every Tuesday or Wednesday night when I get home from work has become an important part of my life. Through those letters we have developed an incredible ease and depth of communication. The strange thing that happened is that on the first day of the visit there was this sense of disconnect, and I found my self trying to reconcile that the person in front of me was the same person behind the words on those pieces of paper in my mailbox. I was frustrated and found the conversation remaining more superficial than I had imagined or wanted. On Saturday night I was able to work that through in my mind, and on Sunday we had a much more substantive chat. How 4 hours could possibly go by so quickly I will never know.

I knew from my experience last year that the absolute worst part of the entire trip comes on Sunday evening when visitation ends, and I start my journey back to San Antonio. The elation and month of anticipation leading up to getting to talk to Elizabeth in person is followed by a cruel and sudden jarring back to reality. Having to leave them behind in that awful place, knowing full well they are completely innocent of those crimes fills me with gut-wrenching sadness and outrage. The knot in my stomach didn't start to ease until I was south of Austin. At the same time the emotional impact is what renews my energy and commitment to help them uncover the truth and find the justice they so deserve

The good news I was able to give to the women was the the National Center for Reason and Justice (NCRJ) Board of Directors had voted unanimously on their innocence and a commitment to sponsor their case. We had submitted an application back for sponsorship in August and they spent almost four months vetting the information we supplied them. Having NCRJ onside is a definite step forward for the case, and will hopefully open some doors for them in their pursuit of truth and justice. This was very important because there had been no forward momentum for nearly a decade. Psychologically this will give everyone hope and something to believe in once again.

Spent my last three days in San Antonio and did the tourist thing visiting the Alamo and downtown San Antonio. Maria Vasquez, Anna's mother, very kindly put me up at the La Quinta hotel in the center of downtown SA. From my 14th floor room I had a great view of downtown San Antonio. On my last day in SA Mrs. Vasquez took me and Anna's friend, Melody, out to dinner at an old Mexican restaurant. It was great food and a really Mariachi band that walked around playing. A side benefit of my advocacy is that I have been able to explore and discover Tex-Mex or Tejano culture. It is all very new and interesting to me.

It was sad to get on the plane to come home on Thursday morning but I was glad to have made the trip. It definitely renews my commitment to the case. My plane was held up on the tarmac in SA and I missed my connection in Phoenix. I got rerouted on a flight to Salt Lake City full of overly-polite Mormons, and finally got into Vancouver at 11 p.m. I had missed the last flight to Whitehorse so I had to overnight and get the first flight out Friday morning. I grabbed a cab downtown and was able to get a hotel and catch the last set at the Yale. Ironically it was a Stevie Ray Vaughan cover band called "Texas Flood". I don't get to see a lot of live music living up here, so maybe it wasn't such a bad day after all.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Harmless Error

The controversial term "harmless error" is often used by Texas appellate judges in their opinion response to criminal trial appeals. In Elizabeth Ramirez' appeal to the COURT OF APPEALS OF TEXAS, FOURTH DISTRICT, SAN ANTONIO Justice Alma L. Lopez describes comments made by prosecutor Phillip A. Kazen during his cross-examination of Elizabeth as "harmless error".

From the text of the appeal response:

In her fourth issue, Ramirez argues that the trial court erred by failing to grant a mistrial because of an improper comment by the prosecutor. Ramirez is referring to a remark that the prosecutor made in response [*7] to her testimony denying culpability. After Ramirez testified that she loved V.L. and that she would not hurt V.L in any way, the prosecutor remarked: "So says O.J., Ma'am." Ramirez's attorney then asked for a mistrial and the trial court denied the request.

In front of the jury, Kazen made a comment that made a direct comparison between Elizabeth's relationship with V.L. and that of O.J. Simpson with his murdered ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson.

Later in the appeal response, Lopez describes the evidence against Elizabeth as being "overwhelming". This statement directly contradicts Prosecutor Kazen who tells the court that the crux of the evidence presented at trial consists of Elizabeth's word against her niece, V.L. There was no physical evidence or corroborating adult witness to the girls claim, only her statement and testimony.

Elizabeth's trial took place in February 1997, less than two years after O.J. Simpson's highly publicized murder trial and subsequent acquittal. The stark and powerful image of Nicole Brown Simpson's body lying on her doorstep with her throat slashed, spattered with blood, contrasted with her former husband's smug, self-assured attitude at a trial where he was defended by the best lawyers in America. These images had been repeatedly broadcast in both print and television media shortly before Elizabeth's trial. Those images had, and continue to have, a profound emotional effect on the general public. The belief that O.J. Simpson "got away with murder" was widespread.

For appeals justice Lopez to call Prosecutor Kazen's direct comparison of Elizabeth Ramirez with O.J. Simpson "harmless error" is colossal error. That Kazen's statement was, in fact error at all, is questionable. The magnitude of the visceral response that comparison and its associated images elicited in the general public, and therefore the jury, would have been tremendous. Taking into account Elizabeth's only defense was the credibility of her testimony before the jury, this statement becomes more than enough to inflame their minds, and grossly prejudice the verdict. In Elizabeth's cross-examination, Kazen's primary goal was to destroy her credibility. It seems unlikely he made this statement in error. Considering how quickly he responded to Elizabeth's claim that she loved V.L., it is seems more likely to have been premeditated and intentional. A more likely scenario is that Kazen had been waiting for Elizabeth to express her feelings for V.L., and had preplanned his response.

That statement in caused tremendous harm, and appears unlikely to have been made in error.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Portraying Liz as a Liar

Elizabeth's defense lawyer Freddie Ruiz decided to put her on the stand as part of her defense. In fact she was the only witness for the defense. This meant that prosecutor Kazen was able to cross-examine her. Since the only real evidence the prosecution had was the testimony of V.L. the trial would come down to her word against her aunt Elizabeth's. Kazen's goal was to destroy Elizabeth's credibility by portraying her as a liar. He used several points from her sworn statement to attempt to do this in front of the jury. However, Kazen has no solid evidence of mendacity on Elizabeth's part, his arguments are taken out of context, to intentionally achieve his goal. The fact of the matter is that Elizabeth's statements are very consistent and credible; her alibis are supported by her work schedule.

The charges laid against the four women were ambiguous with respect to time, and stated that the sexual assault occurred “on or about July 24....” During the initial police interviews, the crimes were alleged to have occurred in the evening. During the initial interview of Elizabeth Ramirez, Detective Matjeka asked her for her whereabouts during the evenings when there was a possibility for all of the alleged perpetrators as well as the "victims" to have been present in the apartment. Elizabeth was able to provide a work alibi for those times. Matjeka then changed the time that the assault was to have happened to daytime, or as prosecutor Kazen states, “when he found out that it happened during the day, you changed your statement”(Vol. III p. 428). Because she worked as a floating manager at Arby’s restaurants, Liz also happened to be working days at the newly alleged times. During cross-examination prosecutor Kazen used this ambiguous information to infer that Liz had lied to Matjeka in her statement by first saying she worked nights, and then saying she worked days. It was in fact not Elizabeth, but rather Matjeka, who had changed his story to attempt to get the time and date to coincide with a possible time for the assault to have occurred. Liz says that during question "(Matjeka) kept telling me different stories". The reality is that Liz only answered the questions she was asked. The assault was also alleged to have occurred on July 24, but Liz had medical records showing that she was in hospital that day. The investigators weren't even sure what week the alleged assaults were supposed to have happened at the outset, and that is why they used the "on or about" language in the formal charges.

When Liz had a solid alibi for the crime, Matjeka simply picked a different day.

Both Elizabeth and Cassandra claimed that Detective Matjeka repeatedly told them that he would have their children taken away from them by Child Protection Services if they did not fully cooperate with him in the investigation Although Elizabeth had no children, she was 4 months pregnant at the time the investigation began, and she says that Matjeka repeatedly threatened to have her child taken away the day it was born if she didn’t admit to the crimes. Matjeka denied these allegations during the trial. During Elizabeth's trial prosecutor Kazen makes a point of asking why this threat of taking her child away was not included in the statement and calls Liz a liar because it is not there. The reality is that it was Matjeka writing down the statement, and no police officer would ever include any evidence of the psychological pressures they put on a suspect to get them to "confess" to be put in a sworn statement.

These "inconsistencies" would not have been available to prosecutors if the women had known to exercise their constitutional right, and said the 7 magic words - "I want to speak to a lawyer." When a suspect being questioned exercises this right police will say "why, do you have something to hide?" But if the police are operating above board, they should have no concerns about the presence of a lawyer during interrogations.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A History of Unfounded Allegations

In addition to the claim of sexual assault made against Elizabeth Ramirez and her friends there are a number of other similar claims made by Javier Limon the girl's father, and Serafina Limon, the girls paternal grandmother. These other claims all bear a number of similarities to the description of the assault Elizabeth and her co-defendants have been convicted of, and all these claims of sexual assault lack any physical or corroborating evidence, whatsoever. In every one of these instances there is evidence of a family dispute or custody battle.

The first unsubstantiated claim occurred in Denver, Colorado and involved allegations against a 10-year-old boy the girls claim their mother left them with while she went out with her boyfriend. In the course that event they claimed that the boy took them into the bedroom and that he and the younger girl, S.L., were naked from the waist down and that the boy had been “sticking his thing” into S.L. The girl’s father, Javier Limon, claims that shortly after bringing them back to San Antonio from Denver in 1992, his daughters were caught acting out sexually with dolls, which led to their disclosing these events to him. Mr. Limon took his daughters to the Children’s Advocacy Center where they underwent a physical examination for evidence of sexual assault. This was some time after the alleged events and the results of the examination were that there was no evidence of sexual assault.

Although the medical report from this examination were in the possession of the District Attorney’s office, they were never introduced at Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial. Elizabeth’s defense attorney, Freddie Ruiz, claims the report was not among the discovery materials. Prosecutor Philip A. Kazen Jr. claims the report was in the file but that “Freddie missed it”.

The second unsubstantiated allegation of sexual assault was made against a man named Oscar Aguirre Sr. in Denver, Colorado. Javier Limon and Rosemary Camarillo, the girl’s mother, had been involved in a long-term common-law relationship, which ended in 1991. At the time of the breakup Rosemary and the girls had been living with the Aguirre family in Colorado. Rosemary and Javier had known the Aguirre family from San Antonio and had gone to school with some of their children. After Javier took the girls back to San Antonio Rosemary ended up marrying Oscar Aguirre Jr. and returned to San Antonio to be closer to her girls. This occurred sometime in 1993. When Javier found out that Rosemary had married Mr. Aguirre, he was very upset and made accusations that his father, Oscar Aguirre Sr. had been sexually assaulting S.L. and V.L. According to Rosemary there was a heated confrontation between Javier and Mr. Aguirre’s family members regarding these allegations. The family made it clear that there would be serious consequences if Javier did not have substantial evidence to support his claims against their father. After this confrontation no more was heard from Javier with respect to these allegations against Mr. Aguirre. Shortly after this event Rosemary and Mr. Aguirre Jr. had their home raided by police an Mr. Aguirre was charged and convicted of selling marijuana and received a 10 year prison sentence. Rosemary believes that Javier Limon had been part of this police raid. Once Mr. Aguirre Jr. was in prison Javier became very attentive to Rosemary with offers of money. Rosemary refused these offers and eventually moved back to Colorado to evade constant harassment by Javier Limon. I have an email from Rosemary Camarillo giving a general outline of these events. She has stated that she would be willing to sign an affidavit if requested to do so.

In 2005 S.L. had been living with her aunt Christina in Colorado. S.L. had been in the care of CPS due to severe behavioral problems and Christina had threatened to put her out of the house because of her actions. S.L. then returned to San Antonio and moved in with her mother for a year. Some time after arriving at her mother’s house S.L. told her mother that Christina’s boyfriend had repeatedly raped her during the day while Christina was at work. There were no witnesses or corroborating evidence of these assaults, and although S.L. was 17 at the time she sought no medical attention, nor did she file a police report. When Rosemary confronted her that this was another false claim initiated as retaliation because Christina had asked her to leave, there was a heated argument between Rosemary and S.L. After approximately one year Rosemary asked S.L. to move out of the house. The primary reason for give for this by Rosemary is that S.L. is a liar and very manipulative.

The other claim of sexual assault was the one that S.L. and V.L. made against their aunt Elizabeth and her friends. These allegations followed directly on the heels of Elizabeth refusing to marry their father Javier Limon. During her testimony at the second trial V.L. acknowledged that she was aware of her aunt Elizabeth’s bisexuality and that her father strongly disapproved of this. She was also aware that Javier had asked Elizabeth to marry him and she had refused his offer.

All of these reported sexual assaults seem to be associated with a family dispute where claims of sexual assault closely follow a custody dispute, divorce or other family disagreement. There are never any witnesses, corroborating or physical evidence. Only the claims of the "victims".

Friday, March 7, 2008

East End of a West-bound Dog

I have been remiss in my blogging lately. Unfortunately all of my spare time that I usually devote to researching and writing about this case is being consumed trying to get my dog team whipped into reasonable physical condition to take them racing at the end of this month.

We have been doing 80km.(50 mile) runs in weather that is really too warm but they all come home with their tails wagging, so I am encouraged by that.

I have a race 220 mile that starts in Dawson and runs to Eagle, Alaska and back on March 27, and after that we immediately pack up and drive over to Denali Park in Alaska for a 300-miler that starts on April 1. After that is over I can get back to working on the case. I have electronic copies of all of Liz' transcripts now which will allow me to pursue some new leads. Believe it or not, for the last 12 years she has never had a full set of transcripts to use for her appeals!!

Meanwhile I spend much of my time staring at the east-end of west-bound dog team, or the west end of an east-bound dog team.

Can you tell the difference?

It takes many years of experience..... look closely at the pictures.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Expert Testimony

"I'm going to show you what comes out of Nancy Kellogg, prosecution witness, testifies for them repeatedly, repeatedly, repeatedly. I'm going to show you that she can turn anything -- anything into sexual abuse. God, if you have a C grade and you drop from an A to a C .... that could be child abuse. That's how ridiculous. I'll show you through vicious cross-examination of her what this case is about."
Freddie Ruiz - Elizabeth's Defense Lawyer

At Elizabeth Ramirez' trial, and the trial of the other three women, no expert witnesses were called to testify for the defense. The only expert witness called by the prosecution was Dr. Nancy Kellogg, a pediatrician who had examined the girls on September 28, 1994, approximately 8 weeks after the alleged incidents. As Freddie Ruiz pointed out in his opening statement at Liz' trial Dr. Kellogg testifies as a prosecution witness on a regular basis. She was the medical director of the Alamo Children's Advocacy Center. Dr. Kellogg is what is referred to in legal circles as a "child saver", for whom the business of providing favorable expert testimony for the prosecution is a lucrative source of income. Questions have been raised in other trials regarding the quality and objectivity of Dr. Kellogg's testimony.

At Elizabeth's trial Dr. Kellogg was fully prepared to testify this was a case of cult-related or Satanic-related sexual abuse as she concluded in her written report. It was only a written objection to the Judge that prevented her testifying as such in front of the jury.

Dr. Kellogg took a "history" from the two girls that was in fact nothing more than their story of the alleged incident. The version they told Dr. Kellogg differed on several key factors from what they had told the outcry witness, their father, in the police report and at the trials. Based on their demeanor, which Dr. Kellogg described as "guileless", she accepted their story at face value and testified to the jury that she found them very believable. Although Dr. Kellogg specifically names Elizabeth and the other women in her report, she made absolutely no effort to contact them to verify this information. By doing so she has in fact made a diagnosis on someone she has never seen.

The point of contention focused on during cross-examination by Freddie Ruiz was Dr. Kellogg's claim of finding a "scar" that was 2-3 millimeters in length at the 3 o'clock position on V.L.'s hymen. Kellogg claimed this was evidence of penetration, although she could not date the time that the alleged scar was formed, or the object that might have created it. Outside of those with scientific training or some aspects of the military, most Americans are completely unfamiliar with the metric system. Describing a scar as being 2 to 3 millimeters would have little or no meaning. To give that description a frame of reference using everyday objects; a quarter has a thickness of 2mm. and a pencil lead 3mm. This was a very small scar Kellogg claimed to have seen.

What no one bothered to question was whether the scar in fact actually existed. Dr. Kellogg claimed she took photos of the examination using a colposcope, but when requested, failed to produce copies of those photos for a defense' medical expert to verify her findings. It is not uncommon for medical professionals to disagree over a diagnosis such as this one. There have also been serious disagreements with respect to exactly what constitutes normal anatomy in prepubertal children, and what is indicative of sexual abuse. There are also questions as to whether a pediatrician is the most appropriately trained medical professional to make this type of diagnosis. A pathologist would be considered better trained for this type of analysis. Yet Liz' defense lawyer did not bother to hire a medical expert of any description to contest Dr. Kellogg's testimony. Dr. Kellogg herself must have had some doubts about the "scar" she claims to have seen, as during the actual examination she describes it as an "irregular white area" and only on the final page of her report does this finding morph into a "hymenal scar, consistent with vaginal penetration".

Another aspect of Dr. Kellogg's medical testimony that was not revealed at Liz' trial was the fact that Javier Limon, the girls father, had brought them to the Alamo Children's Advocacy Centre several years previously, claiming that they had been sexually molested by a 10-year-old boy while living with their mother in Colorado. He demanded that the girls be examined by a doctor for physical evidence. The doctor who examined the girls found no evidence of sexual abuse. Javier had previously claimed that another member of the boy's family had sexually abused the girls while trying to get custody of them from their mother. He backed down on that claim when vigorously challenged by family members to provide evidence for those claims.

The prosecution had a copy of the medical report from the first examination of the girls, but this was never introduced at Liz' trial. This evidence could have established several things. First, that the girls knew what sexual abuse was, and that they may have been sexually abused previously. Secondly, it could have established to the jury that the girl's father had a history of making unsubstantiated claims of sexual abuse against his daughter's when he had a dispute with someone. Prosecutor Phillip A. Kazen Jr. claimed that the report of the first claim of sexual abuse was in the file of discovery materials, but that "Freddie missed it". Defense lawyer Ruiz claims the report was not in the file. Regardless, this was information that could have discredited Dr. Kellogg's testimony, and had a significant impact on the outcome of Elizabeth's trial. Had the case been properly investigated, and had the appropriate expert witnesses testified on Liz' behalf as part of a vigorous defense, she may well have been found not guilty. Instead of providing these resources Freddie Ruiz told Liz' not to worry because the onus was on the prosecution to prove that she was guilty, and he relied on his ability to effectively discredit witnesses through cross-examination - despite the fact he had no experience in criminal trials.

It is profoundly sad to think that Liz may be spending 37 and-a-half years in prison because the cost of hiring expert witnesses and an investigator cut into someone's profit margin.

Monday, February 4, 2008

A Huge Liability

Elizabeth Ramirez was convicted in February of 1997, and sentenced to 37 and a half years. She becomes parole eligible in 2015 - the halfway point of her sentence. The other three women were convicted on Valentine's Day 1998, and sentenced to 15 years incarceration, but remained out on appeal until the summer of 2000. Those three recently passed the halfway point of their sentences, and became parole-eligible. All three have come before the Parole Board over the last while (Cassandra Rivera in November and Kristie Mayhugh just last month). As from the day the accusations first surfaced in 1994, all three maintained their claims of innocence at their respective parole hearings. They are fully aware that in the eyes of Texas Pardons and Parole a claim of innocence is considered failure to accept responsibility for their crimes, that they will not be granted parole, and will serve their full sentences. They effectively now hold the keys to their prison cells, all they would have to do is "confess" to the crimes and go through a sex offender treatment program and they would likely be granted parole. They will be forced to register as sex offenders regardless of whether they parole or serve their full sentences. At this point in time maintaining a claim of innocence has absolutely no strategic advantage - in fact it becomes a huge liability. The fact that they are willing to spend another 7-plus years in prison when they could be home with their families and children makes their claims of innocence that much more compelling. They are not willing to compromise Truth one iota. The truth is, those who are wrongfully convicted and maintain their innocence are doubly punished relative to the guilty.

All four of these women have maintained their innocence from the outset. They all passed a lie detector test and none had any drug or alcohol problems, or criminal record. Women who sexually assault young children are very rare, and tend to be seriously mentally ill or have a host of other problems. An extensive search failed to find another verified instance of a group sexual assault by adult females on children. The fact that they were lesbians and therefore predisposed to sexually assaulting little girls, although categorically false, was blatantly promoted to the juries at their respective trials. The simple fact is, there are holes in this case you could drive a truck through, and as claims of innocence go, theirs is very believable. There have been significant doubts about this case from the beginning, and the credibility of their claims only increase with the passage of time.

Elizabeth Ramirez also maintains her innocence of these crimes and will do so at her parole hearing in 2015. She is fully prepared to serve her full sentence which expires in 2034 rather than compromise the truth.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Disproving a Negative

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once."
Charles Lamb
The criminal justice system holds that the burden of proof during a trial lies with the prosecution, and the onus falls on them to provide sufficient evidence to show beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty of the alleged crime. Also, the accused is given the presumption of innocence until they have been proven guilty in a fair trial. Although that is the "theory" of criminal proceedings, there are two circumstances which are clearly exceptions to those rules - instances where no crime has in fact occurred. The first is being found with a large sum of cash in ones possession. The assumption is that the cash was accumulated through illegal means, and it is up to the owner to prove otherwise, or forfeit the money to the government. The second exception to these rules occurs in the case of false allegations of child abuse/sexual assault, where there is no physical or corroborating evidence - only the testimony of the alleged victim. Although the theory of the trial states that the prosecution must prove the accused parties guilty, the reality of these cases is that the defendant is placed in the position of being presumed guilty and having to prove their innocence - that no crime has occurred. This is a very difficult, if not impossible situation; exactly how does one go about producing evidence that will refute an imaginary crime? Disproving a negative is a logical impossibility, but it is also the blunt reality of the accused person's predicament.

In an interesting study by Neil Vidmar, a social psychologist at Duke University Law School (1997), a sample of over 800 potential jurors were questioned regarding their ability to maintain a presumption of innocence in cases of child sexual abuse. A full 36% openly admitted that they would be unable to do so for a variety of reasons, often related to personal beliefs or experience. That 36% was calculated before jurors had heard specific details of the alleged crime. Judges with extensive experience in child sex abuse cases believe it is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to assemble a jury that is able to maintain the presumption of innocence and provide a fair trial for those on trial for child abuse.

In the case of Elizabeth Ramirez and her co-defendants, this difficulty in assembling a non-prejudicial jury was compounded by the fact that the prosecutors at both trials openly attempted to present the women as having a strong proclivity toward sexually abusing little girls because they were lesbians, in spite of the fact that there is no scientifically-based evidence to support that theory. Prosecutorial conduct specifically intended to erode any presumption of innocence of the accused on the part the jury not based in evidence, but rather homophobic fear-mongering, is irresponsible to say the least. It would have been difficult for the four women to get a fair trial under the best of circumstances. There seemed to be little interest in letting justice run it's course, and the prosecutors primary goal seemed to be to demonize the defendants in front of the jury to win the case.

Another factor leading to Elizabeth's conviction was the attitude of her lawyer, Freddie Ruiz, who had never before represented a client in a criminal trial of any description, let alone on the notoriously difficult charges of aggravated sexual assault on a child. Liz was upset that her lawyer failed to produce any defense witnesses. Ruiz told her not to worry because it was up to the prosecution to prove her guilty. Lawyers who have experience representing clients on charges of child sexual abuse are only too aware of the problems of presumption of guilt on the part of the jury members, and agree that the only successful strategy is an extremely aggressive defense, that includes expert witnesses capable of a convincing rebuttal of the prosecution's evidence. Based on experience, defense lawyers usually advise clients, including innocent ones, against going to trial even with a strong case and under favorable circumstances.

The effect of prejudice and ignorance amongst jurors is well documented in criminal trials. Black men accused of raping white women have traditionally been virtually assured of a conviction, even when there was considerable evidence supporting their innocence. This was a central theme in Harper Lee's classic novel "To Kill a Mockingbird". A common racist belief amongst many white Americans has been that black men are unable to control their sexual urges and when a white woman claimed she had been sexually assaulted a jury would almost invariably return a guilty verdict regardless of how questionable her claims might have been, or how strong the defense. Ignorance and preconception on the part of the jury meant that there was a presumption of guilt under those circumstances. The recent rash of convictions overturned by DNA evidence has clearly shown these prejudices against black men wrongfully convicted of violent sexual assaults on white women still persist in the criminal justice system

Texas has the highest rate of DNA exonerations of any State in America. Dallas County alone has now had more cases overturned by DNA than any State, except Illinois and New York. It is obvious that Texas has a very serious problem with wrongful convictions sending innocent people to prison or execution. Outside of the small percentage of cases supported by DNA evidence, there seems to be little will within the Texas criminal justice system to acknowledge the full scope of the problem and take measures to deal with it.

In the case of Elizabeth Ramirez and her co-defendants; in addition to Texas' unacceptably high rate of wrongful convictions, the problems involved in obtaining an impartial jury in child sex abuse cases, prosecutor's intimating to the jury that these women should be presumed guilty of sexual assault on two little girls simply because of their sexual orientation, lawyers who did not bother to provide expert witnesses for their defense, and it becomes obvious that they did not get anything remotely close to a fair trial.

For prosecutor's it was an easy victory, and an opportunity for political grandstanding as they were able to play to the fears and ignorance of a homophobic electorate, all under the noble guise of protecting children.


Vidmar, N. (1997). Generic Prejudice and the Presumption of Guilt in Sex Abuse Trials. Law and Human Behavior. 21(1)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

How Rare?

According to the FBI, and a roundup other resources on the subject (Lanning, 1992), outside of the category of female sex offender known as "male-coerced", one of the salient features of women who molest children is that they are always single perpetrators. After enlisting the help of several professional researchers, and reviewing the contents of every database we could access from Lexus Nexus to Google and more, we were unable to identify a single case, outside of this one, where a group of women cooperated in the sexual molestation of a child. Sexual assaults on pre-pubertal children by women are rare occurrences to begin with. If you can provide evidence of a verified case of a "gang" sexual assault against a child by adult women please let us know. We would be very interested.

When the realities of criminal profiles and demographics are brought into argument at a sexual assault trial, lawyers will rebut by saying that "anyone can be a sex offender". In the strictest terms, that is true. An eighty year old woman is physically capable of walking into a bank with a sawed-off shotgun and yelling "stick-em-up"; but it doesn't happen, and common sense tells us it doesn't happen. Bank robbers are almost invariably young men with some distinct personality traits. That is why law enforcement agencies such as the FBI spend so much time and energy developing criminal profiles. Behaviors and personality traits of those who carry out various types of crimes are predictable. A group of well-adjusted and intelligent women are physically capable of getting together and cooperatively molesting a child - but it doesn't happen. Women who molest pre-pubertal children display a distinct set of characteristics. They are seriously mentally ill and/or of limited intelligence and/or have social and interpersonal problems. Also, probably because they are such a rarity, they act alone.

Why was the Texas Justice System and mainstream media willing to accept without question that 4 lesbians would participate in the sexual assault two little girls? The case had more to do with fear-mongering, ignorance and opportunities for political grandstanding, than trying to hold the realities of the situation up to the light of reason. And there was little attempt to do so.

A multi-perpetrator sexual assault by adult women on two little girls is someone's sick sexual fantasy, and not an accurate reflection of reality.


Lanning, K. V. (1992) Investigators Guide to Allegations of "Ritual" Abuse. Behavioral Sciences Unit. FBI Academy. Quantico, Virginia 22135.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Nice People

"All that is required for evil to flourish is for good men to sit idly by and do nothing."
Martin Luther King Jr.

I disagree with that statement. Not primarily because it has become politically incorrect over the course of the last 4 decades. But rather because good people, by definition, are those who refuse to do nothing, and take action against "evil". It is nice people who stand idly by and do nothing, that are the problem.

There are far too many nice people in the world, and not enough good people. When you talk to nice people they will generally agree with your opinions, and right on cue harp on about the injustices in society and piss and moan about the government and have all the "right" insights and arguments. But if you ask them "What are you going to do about it?" they stop, and give you a look of total bewilderment. They have no intention of "doing" anything about it - rocking the boat- because, well, that just wouldn't be nice. Nice people are vapid mental masturbators oblivious to their own moral impotence.

As kids we are told "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Apparently it is important not to offend, or hurt people's feelings. But what about when we are faced with those who distort truth and manipulate or harm others for their personal gain? Do we continue to smile politely because we are nice people and don't want to offend? Are their feelings more important than the truth? The blunt reality is there are people in this world who are so devoid of personal ethics that they will continue to serve their own purposes at the expense of others until they are faced with serious consequences for their behaviors. They will persist until we take the initiative to stop them.

We live in a democracy. If we fail to participate actively in the democratic process there are those who will hijack and use political machinery for personal and professional gain. Democracy only works when the government is afraid of the people. But there is no reason to be afraid of nice people, they will continue to eat shit endlessly. Our governments are increasinngly no longer afraid of us. Over the course of the last four decades they have become extremely proficient at managing us, and seem do so with little or no impunity. Nice people complain, but do nothing, and eventually many even stop complaining.

Nice people do have their merits. In daily life they lubricate social interactions and make our days more pleasant - nobody wants to interact with the abrasive and the obnoxious. But when their days are numbered and they leave this world what have nice people accomplished? They leave no legacy and have changed bugger all, because they lack the courage to fight to raise or maintain the moral integrity of their society. They disconnect from the community and sit hypnotized in front of their big screen televisions, overeating and expecting someone else to do something about society's problems. They are pathetic and apathetic.

The criminal justice system has increasingly become a refuge for scoundrels. Police and prosecutorial misconduct have become far more commonplace than most people imagine. While there are many honest and ethical people working in the justice system, there are those whose career and political ambitions supercede their desire to seek justice. They have appear to have no qualms about convicting and imprisoning their fellow citizens wrongfully. Their only goal seems to be to win cases and improve arrest and conviction records to further professional aspirations and bolster their egos.

In the past there was widespread denial regarding the number of citizens wrongfully convicted. The ever accumulating numbers of DNA-driven exonerations has fully exposed the extent of this horrible problem. But wrongfully convicted people who are able to prove their innocence through DNA represent a very small minority of the total number of wrongfully convicted in prison or on death row today. They are merely the tip of the iceberg.

The question now is, how will society address this problem? What will we do knowing full well that a substantial number of the claims of innocence being put forward due to wrongful convictions are legitimate? Innocent fellow citizens have been illegally deprived of their freedom or their lives. To protect personal interests, the immoral or "evil" in the system will continue to deny the existence of wrongful convictions through nonsense rationalizations. The nice will gripe about the injustice but do little or nothing, and effectively allow the problem to persist.

Evil people may be the enemy, but nice people are the problem. We need to stop raising our children to be nice people and start raising them to be good people if we are to address these problems and improve the quality of our society.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Lesbian Pedophiles

"...I want to cover something and I'm not going to mention it again. The alternative lifestyle. The only significance that has in this case is to show why we would have female abusers and female victims".
Mary Kay Delavan -prosecutor at second trial.

The above statement implies a direct link between lesbianism and the sexual abuse of girls.

That idea is patently and categorically false.

During the 1980's the media regularly reported that boy's were being sexually molested by "gay priests". The notion being that Catholic priests who molested (usually adolescent) boys were homosexuals. By definition a homosexual is an adult whose sexual interest is adults of their own gender. These priests were not homosexuals but rather pedophiles, as their only sexual interest was in children, and they had never had any sexual interest in either male or female adults. The tabloid media gave extensive coverage to these cases involving "gay priests" and the connection had been made in the minds of a large portion of the public.

Those who are morally opposed to homosexuality have long asserted a connection between homosexuality and child molestation. That belief has had many effects including the Boy Scouts of America barring gay men from scouting, and attempts to bar gay men from positions as school teachers. A 1970 survey showed 70% of Americans believed homosexuals were inclined toward sexual abuse of youth and should not be allowed to work with them. That percentage has decreased steadily, and by 1999 the numbers of people still holding that belief had dropped into the mid-teens with respect to gays, and approximately 7% for lesbians.(Herek, G. 2008)

There have been published reports claiming to show a positive correlation between homosexuality and child molestation. Peer-review of these articles shows a common flaw in research methodology. In these studies when a male perpetrator assaults a boy it is considered to be "homosexual" molestation and when a girl is abused, "heterosexual" molestation. In fact the majority of these assaults are carried out by pedophiles who tend to offend against a specific age group of children, and in many, if not most instances have no gender preference. What is critical to recognize is that most of these pedophiles have no sexual orientation and are therefore categorized as "fixated" child molesters. Another group of child molesters categorized as "regressed" have previously shown a capacity to form adult sexual relationships, but have returned to an earlier developmental stage in terms of their sexual interests. This regression is often associated with extreme levels of stress.

An important investigation in this area was conducted in Massachusetts by Groth and Birnbaum (1978). They studied 175 adult males convicted of child molestation. Interestingly, none were classified as homosexuals. 47% were classified as "fixated"pedophiles, 40% as "regressed" heterosexuals, and 13% as regressed bisexuals. Other researchers conducting similar studies have found very low rates (less than 1%) of child molestation by homosexuals, and no positive correlation in terms of sexual interest in boys. (Jenny et. al., 1994; Freund et. al. 1989)

Today, professionals and academics working in the child abuse field no longer believe homosexuals pose an elevated risk to the sexual abuse of children relative to heterosexuals. Regarding the relationship between lesbianism and child molestation, verified cases are so rare valid statistical inferences cannot be made.

In both Elizabeth Ramirez' trial, and the trial of the other 3 women, prosecutors inferred that their lesbianism predisposed them toward molesting girls. Sexual assault on pre-pubertal girls by adult women is a rare event. As lesbians represent a small subsample of all adult women and show no disposition toward child molestation, their involvement in these types of assaults can only be described as extremely rare. Women who assault younger children are usually seriously mentally ill and/or have very limited social skills and other problems. The four women convicted in this case are all well-adjusted and high functioning. All had shown the ability to form and maintain adult sexual relationships. Another salient characteristic of women who sexually assault prepubescent girls is that they always act alone.

While it is possible, all research findings indicate the odds of a multi-perpetrator sexual assault on prepubertal girls by four high functioning lesbians is, at best, extremely remote. Several searches have failed to find reference to another verified case. Because of this, the question arises: "Why didn't this case raise red flags, and draw significant media attention?"

Lesbian pedophiles is a myth - a figment of a homophobic imagination, and not based in reality.


Freund, K., Watson, R., & Rienzo, D. (1989). Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and erotic age preference. The Journal of Sex Research, 26 (1), 107-117.

Groth, A.N., & Birnbaum, H.J. (1978). Adult sexual orientation and attraction to underage persons. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 7 (3), 175-181.

Herek, Gregory. Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation. Retrieved Jan. 6, 2008.

Jenny, C., Roesler, T. A., & Poyer, K. L. (1994). Are children at risk for sexual abuse by homosexuals? Pediatrics, 94(1), 41-44.