These Latinas Spent More Than A Decade In Prison For A Crime They Say They Didn’t Commit

In 1994, San Antonio, Texas, was hit with a case that would change the lives of four young Latinas. Anna Vasquez, Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera were charged and later convicted of gang raping two young girls aged 7 and 9. For years, they maintained their innocence. Twenty-two years later, the documentary “Southwest of Salem” is trying to expose the alleged bias and mishandled investigation that may have put four innocent women behind bars for more than a decade.

For the past 22 years, these women have been living a nightmare. They’ve been fighting against allegations that they gang raped two young girls in 1994.

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Credit: @mySA / Twitter

Anna Vasquez, Elizabeth Ramirez, Kristie Mayhugh and Cassandra Rivera all claim they are innocent — but that didn’t stop them from serving jail time.

It all began when Ramirez, second from the left, was watching her two nieces, ages 7 and 9, for a week.


Her three friends — Vasquez, Mayhugh and Rivera — came to stay with Ramirez during that time. When the week ended, the nieces returned home, and the four women had no idea anything was wrong with Ramirez’s nieces.

“It was a typical week, just what families do,” Ramirez told CNN. “We did things, we went out to the park, we ate, just kind of hung out.”

Things took an unexpected turn when the nieces began accusing the four women — who were all lesbian — of sexually assaulting them as part of a Satanic ritual.

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Credit: Southwest of Salem / Lesbian Lips / YouTube

All four women were eventually arrested. During questioning by police, they realized their sexual orientation was going to be used against them.

Credit: @HSDocClub / Twitter

“When we were being questioned by police, they made a point to put it out in there that we were gay,” Anna Vasquez told The Guardian.

Their defense attorneys were also pessimistic about winning the case. They felt it was a losing battle to go against the word of two young girls who were making such serious allegations.

During their trial, prosecutors also pointed out their sexual orientation as a motive for the crime.

Credit: Southwest Of Salem

Prosecutors relied heavily on two things during the trial:

1) The appearance of scar tissue in one of the niece’s internal membrane tissue.

2) The women’s sexual orientation since all four had recently come out as lesbian.

According to CNN, the prosecutors used their closing statements to point out the sexual orientation of the women and urged that being lesbians gives motive for the attack. In Ramirez’s case, which was separate of the other three women, prosecutors talked about her sex life in explicit detail. The jury foreman for Ramirez’s case was a minister who openly said that homosexuality was wrong on religious grounds, according to My San Antonio.

All four women were convicted of the rape of Ramirez’s nieces.

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Credit: Southwest Of Salem / Lesbian Lips / YouTube

Vasquez, pictured above, Mayhugh and Rivera were all sentenced to 15 years in prison each.

Ramirez, the aunt to the accusers, was considered the ringleader and received 37.5 years in prison.

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Credit: The Texas Tribune / YouTube

In total, the four Latinas were collectively sentenced to 82.5 years in prison.

The four women all maintained their innocence. Ramirez told police officers and her attorney that the allegations were made up by her nieces’ father.

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Credit: The Texas Tribune / YouTube

Javier Limon, the father of Ramirez’s nieces, was her sister’s ex-boyfriend at the time of the visit. After the relationship with Ramirez’s sister ended, Ramirez claims that Limon insisted on trying to court her romantically. When she refused, Ramirez says he tried to get revenge by coercing his daughters to make up false claims about Ramirez and her friends.

Ramirez’s claim was strengthened in 2012, when one of the accusers came forward and recanted her statement.


Credit: @_micj_ / Instagram

It set off a chain reaction that would help the San Antonio Four. Everything from the testimony of the accusers to the science used to convict was all reexamined. One of the most important pieces of evidence was also proven to be inaccurate as the science of testing rape cases advanced.

One of the nieces, Stephanie Limon Martinez, released a statement saying she had no recollection of the crime.

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Credit: bluecabinfilms / YouTube

Instead, she recalls her father, Javier Limon, pressuring the young girls to make up the story and stick to it — or face punishment. “I was threatened,” Stephanie Limon told The Texas Tribune about her father, Javier Limon, forcing his daughters to testify against their aunt. “And I was told that if I did tell the truth that I would end up in prison, taken away and even get my ass beat.”

Enter Deborah Esquenazi, the director of the documentary “Southwest of Salem.”

Credit: @TWCNewsSA / Twitter

When she heard the story of the San Antonio Four, Esquenazi was moved to create a documentary about their decades-long battle. “I got a call from my mentor, a woman named Debbie Nathan, who said, ‘You should look into this,” Esquenazi told NYMag. “So I read Liz’s trial transcripts, and they were horrific. They included phrases like ‘gang rape,’ ‘cult-type activity,’ ‘a certain perversion,’ and it was all very sexualized.

“When I finished reading, I was broken. Then she sent me a VHS tape that they had recorded on their search for exculpatory evidence, and I was like, oh my God, this is a story not just about injustice but about a family torn apart.”

As of April 2016, the four women have been released from jail — on bond, not as free women. They are all up for a new trial.

Credit: @andactionnow / Twitter

Their goal is to be completely exonerated. “I think the only reason that the investigation was seriously pursued, why there wasn’t more skepticism about the preposterous allegations in the first place, was because these four women had recently come out as gay, that they were openly gay,” Mike Ware, their defense attorney told CNN.

“Southwest of Salem” recently played at the Tribeca Film Festival, bringing even more exposure to the case.

Credit: @SanAntonioFour / Twitter

The women are fighting to have their names cleared and the charges removed from their records.

“I believe we deserve to be known as innocent. There is a terrible injustice,” Rivera told CNN. “We are not going give up until we are found we are innocent. We will keep fighting.”

Watch the trailer for “Southwest of Salem”:

Credit: Lesbian Lips / YouTube

READ: Video Of Teen’s Gang Rape Uploaded To Social Media Sparks Outrage In Brazil

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

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‘Size Fits All Tags’ And ‘Great Clickbait’— People Name The Worst Things That Are Legal

Beeldbewerking/ Getty

The world is plagued with some crazy and unfair laws, no doubt about it. But what about the things that exist and legal? Why are, for instance, spam callers allowed to trick you by calling from similar numbers to yours? Or, why is it impossible to criminally convict your roommate from keeping you up all night or dipping into your ice-cream and lie about it?

Users on Reddit are asking similar questions and the answers are pretty hilarious but also intriguing.

“I’m just gonna have to say little girl’s beauty pageants. It just doesnt sit right with me. And not only because of the fact it’s creepy, but I feel like it’s stressful on the kid and on their body image.” –kitty-cult

“College book prices and practices. Change a few words in a math book, that’ll be another $100 please. Oh you realized that you can use the book from 10 years ago and succeed? Actually we require you get the new book. Oh you realized you can get the book cheaper from a friend? Actually we’re doing online books now and you need the personalized code. We change it every year even though there have been no breakthroughs in this subject! Knowing the college struggle i have no fucking clue how this is allowed to exist. It should literally be illegal.” –WitlessMean

“Puppy mills.” –thechronicwinter

“Sending letters to home owners labeled ‘IMPORTANT MORTGAGE / FINANCIAL INFO’ or ‘LAST WARNING / NOTICE’ and having the inside look exactly like a bill, letterhead and little box in the corner with figures inside… all to then say ‘refinance with us’ or ‘don’t miss this opportunity for etc etc’ Makes me heart skip every time thinking I’ve forgotten some critical bill until I open it.”- IDUU

“The fact car radio commercials are allowed to have police sirens or car crashes in them as a way to Get your attention.”- jagfanjosh3252

“The size of the ‘x’ button on pop-up ads.” –_Denes_

“Socks: ‘Fits size 6-12.'” –klitorisaurus

“Spice/K2/Synthetic Weed. This may have changed in the last few years but I found it embarrassing that our country locks up thousands for actual marijuana but allowed that shit to be sold at every gas station and liquor store knowing damn good and well that it was hurting and killing people.”-m0ndayisb0ng0day

“You can look up where any one lives because it’s public record. But can we please not have entire websites with data bases full of every person in the country?? I mean think about people who get denied restraining orders and try to move away from their abuser. Six months later and their abuser can just look up their name and find them all over again. This could be detrimental for spouse abuse victims, stalking victims, etc. something should be done about them. It’s terrifying.” –21DrunkPilots

“Lying through your teeth on “news” shows because you claim you’re actually “entertainment”. Even while it has “news” in the title of the station. Being able to lie through your teeth on an opinion show just bc it’s an opinion show. Opinions should be opinions about facts. Opinion should not be an excuse for slander or making knowingly false statements in the media.” –jseego

“No-knock warrants. We’ve seen time and time again where Law Enforcement has the wrong address and some innocent person ends up dead because of a logistical mistake.” –Mr-and-Mrs

“Impossibly hard to cancel subscriptions.” –ungFu-omega-warrior

“Putting unrelated crap into bills to sneak it into law. I know they’re supposed to follow some kind rules related to germaneness, but they clearly don’t, and clearly need actual laws with actual punishments for pulling this crap.” –Gr1pp717

“Multi level Marketing.” –whyykai

“Civil Asset Seizure by Police – No Crimes Needed!”- vegetarianrobots

“The troubled teen industry. Parents pay a company to kidnap kids while they’re sleeping and send them off to ‘therapeutic’ boarding schools where they are abused in every conceivable way.”- MyDongIsAWiFiHotspot

“Sweatshop labor outsourced by tech and Fortune 500 companies. It’s essentially contemporary slavery we collectively allow.”- crumpledForeskin

“Being penalized for calling out sick from work. Edit. Even while the whole world is trying to survive this pandemic, we’re still dealing with this major issue by employers. I work in health care, and I feel like I get shamed by my managers and coworkers when you call out. Especially when you work night shift.” –pongomer

“I (f) bought a car recently. During the process of negotiation I decided I wanted to do more research and the salesman refused to give me the keys to MY car so I could leave. Literally saw me looking for my keys and withheld them while repeatedly saying, ‘But what could I do to get you into this car today?’ I finally demanded my keys but bought the car anyway (they met my asking price and got me the financing I wanted) but I’m SO mad at myself for not making a scene. For allowing that man to hold me hostage and not being outraged. I don’t understand why I didn’t humiliate him and instead meekly just sat and took it. I called the manager the next day. But still. So disappointed in myself…” – UncomonShaman

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Story Of NYC Lawyer Who Went To Prison For Blinding His Girlfriend Then Married Her After His Sentence Resurfaces Again

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Story Of NYC Lawyer Who Went To Prison For Blinding His Girlfriend Then Married Her After His Sentence Resurfaces Again

Crazy Love / Dan Klores

Burt Pugach gained national attention in the 1950s after he was sent to prison for blinding his girlfriend with lye after she broke up with him. Fourteen years later, the New York City lawyer wrangled in headlines once again when it was revealed that after all of this, he persuaded his victim, Linda Riss, to marry him.

Now, almost 46 years after their marriage, Pugach’s story is headlining websites again. This time, as a result of his death, which occurred on Christmas Eve, and triggered another bizarre tale.

The 93-year-old lawyer made naional headlines for the first time in 1959 when he was 31 years old and cheating on his wife.

In 1959 Pugach was a New York-based lawyer who began a courtship with Linda Riss who was 21-years-old and from the East Bronx. When Riss learned that Pugach was married and had a daughter, she broke off their relationship. Enraged, Pugach threatened to kill or hurt Riss saying “If I can’t have you, no one else will have you, and when I get through with you no one else will want you.”

Riss reported the threat to the New York Police Department but did not receive help. When she became engaged to another man she was violated by Pugach who hired three assailants to attack her. The attackers threw lye in Riss’s face, leaving her blind in one eye, almost blind in the other, and forever scarred.

Bizarrely, in 1974, after spending 14 years in prison for the crime, Pugach and Riss resumed their relationship and married. In 1976 they even co-wrote a book, A Very Different Love Story. This story gets weirder (and it doesn’t end here): in 1997, Linda supported Pugarch and appeared at a trial as a character witness for him when he was accused of threatening another woman with whom he had an affair.

Linda died of heart failure on January 22, 2013, and in 2007 their story was produced into a documentary called Crazy Love which was directed by Dan Klores.

Now, years later, Pugach is in the news after he died and it was revealed that he left his $15 million estate to a female caregiver.

According to Daily Mail, “the funds have been frozen by a judge after friends and former colleagues accused Shamin ‘Sheila’ Frawley of coercing Pugach into changing his will after he suffered a stroke.”

Court documents obtained by Daily Mail alleged that Frawley, 52, withheld food and medicine from him until he died. “Pugach revised his will at least five times after Linda succumbed to heart failure in 2013, gifting differing amounts to friends, but always leaving the bulk of the money to a foundation for the visually impaired set up in his late wife’s honor.”

Peter S. Thomas, the foundation’s attorney noted that ‘Burt lived his entire life for Linda. I cannot imagine that under any circumstances, as incapacitated as he was, that he would even think to cut out the foundation.”

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