Stephanie, who asked to have her last name retracted, has recanted her accusation against her aunt Elizabeth Ramirez, and her friends, who were sentenced to long prison sentences for sexual assault in 1997 and 1998.
According to the original account, Ramirez orchestrated the sexual assault of Stephanie, who was 7, and her older sister who was 9 at the time. Ramirez and her three friends – Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Riveria, and Anna Vasquez – were allegedly lounging Ramirez’s apartment while the two young girls were staying with their aunt. The nieces’ account states that the women were drinking and smoking pot, and two were topless, when they called the girls into the room. The women held the girls’ wrists and ankles and assaulted them with small objects, while threatening to kill their families. Then, the girls were released, allowed to shower, and go about their day. Prosecutors characterized the event as orgy-like, and insinuated Satanism might play a part.
Stephanie now says that she does not remember the incident. In fact, she remembers the trip as “boring.”
“I can’t take back what I did,” she said in an interview with the Express-News. “I’m sorry for ruining them.”
Ramirez’s three friends were sentenced to 15 years a piece, and their sentences are just shy of ending. However, as the accused ring leader, Ramirez is currently serving a 37 ½ year sentence.
All four of the women are lesbians, and the Innocence Project of Texas suggests that homophobia was a large part of the women’s convictions. Ramirez said she had turned down marriage proposals from her nieces’ father, her sister’s ex-boyfriend, and that that could have angered him. Stephanie’s father, Javier Limon, has vehemently denied making advances or being involved in his daughters’ accusations.
The Innocence Project also, however, maintains that the admitted medical evidence was “junk science.” Signs of sexual assault should have been considered inconclusive, as the girls were not examined until months after the reported crime. Additionally, the girls’ stories changed every time they recounted the event, both on the witness stand, and off.
While Stephanie’s recantation does not guarantee the women’s exoneration or expungement of their criminal records, it does pave the way for a new trial. Mike Ware, the women’s attorney, will meet with the Bexar County district attorney’s office and can hopefully file for a new trial.
Exoneration and expungement laws are very important to help free wrongfully convicted people of their crimes. Criminal records can destroy your change at pursuing a job or educational opportunities. The attorneys at the Strom Law Firm can help. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your expungement case. 803.252.4800