Photo: Niece Who Claimed Aunt Abused Her and Sister 15 Years Ago Now Says it Never Happened
After 15 years in prison, a San Antonio woman may soon be freed after her niece, who alleged she was sexual abused by the woman, says she made up the abuse story.
In 1994, then 20-year-old Elizabeth Ramirez was accused of sexually abusing her nieces, who were 7 and 9.
According to court documents, Ramirez and her friends Anna Vasquez, Kristie Mayhugh, and Cassandra Rivera, were drinking and smoking pot when they held the two young girls down and sexually assaulted them with various small objects, after which, they reportedly threatened to kill the girls.
Ramirez was determined to be the ringleader and was charged with aggravated sexual assault. In 1997, she was sentenced to 37 years and 6 months in prison. The other three women were sentenced in 1998 and given 15 years in prison each.
Ramirez, Mayhugh, Vasquez, and Rivera have always maintained they did not assault Ramirez’ nieces.
Homophobia was believed to have played a major part in the allegations, as all four women are lesbians. It was pointed out that none of the women had mental health problems or any criminal record.
Ramirez was reportedly being pursued by her brother-in-law, the father of her nieces. She claimed she had rejected his advances.
The complaint against Ramirez and her friends came after the nieces, who had spent a week with Ramirez, returned to their parents. The complaint alleged Ramirez and her friends gang-raped the little girls over a two-day period in a sadistic, ritualistic manner. The man had previously made at least one complaint against others for allegedly sexually abusing his daughters, allegations that were not validated by authorities.
No physical or corroborating evidence was brought against the women during their respective trials, only the statements of the girls.
Now, one of the girls, Stephanie, 25, has come forward saying the allegations against her aunt and the other women were false.
Stephanie recently spoke with San Antonio Express-News, saying, ‘I want my aunt and her friends out of prison. 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.”
The niece says her recant has ruined here relationship with her sister, but that whenever she looked back at the days they were supposedly abused by Ramirez, she can’t actually remember any abuse or anything out of the ordinary.
Though Stephanie’s recant may help the incarcerated women’s cases, it still does not guarantee their freedom. In fact, should the case go back to trial, the three friends serving 15 years may see their scheduled release come before the end of a re-trial. For Ramirez however, being exonerated would mean she could be out before she turns 60, which is when she is scheduled for release.