Evidence of Injustice
“…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 – Trial Prosecutor
The injustices in this case results from a combination of improprieties by investigators, junk science evidence and overt malice on the part of witnesses and court officials. The following outlines those injustices.
Detective Thomas Matjeka
The investigating officer who testified at the two trials was Detective Thomas Matjeka of the San Antonio Police. Detective Matjeka was a homicide detective covering for detective T.R. Lopez, who normally handled child sexual abuse cases. Detective Lopez was studying for her sergeant’s exam when the complaint was filed by Javier Limon, the girl’s father. Detective Matjeka had little or no experience interviewing children who making complaints of sexual abuse. He did not record, either by audio or video, the interviews with V.L. and S.L. He stated at both trials he was a homicide detective and it was not the policy of the homicide division to make electronic recordings of interviews. His stated test for V.L.’s credibility was that he tried to lead her into elaborating on her story by adding components, but she would not do so. Elizabeth states that in her first interview with Matjeka, he told her he knew she was she was a lesbian, and that he seemed to link her sexual preference to a predisposition to the sexual assault of pre-pubertal girls.
Elizabeth and Cassandra, were interviewed separately but said Matjeka repeatedly told them that he would have their children taken 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.
The charges laid against the four women were ambiguous with respect to time and stated the sexual assault(s) occurred “on or about July 24.” Initially, the crimes were alleged to have occurred in the evening. During the initial interview of Elizabeth Ramirez, Matjeka asked her for her whereabouts during the evenings when there was a possibility for all the alleged perpetrators as well as the two accusers to have been in the apartment together. Elizabeth was able to provide a work alibi for those times. Matjeka then changed the time the crime 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”. Because she worked as a floating manager at Arby’s restaurants, Liz also happened to be working days at the new 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 night and then saying she worked days. In fact, it was Matjeka, who had changed his story.
All four of the women have stated that Detective Matjeka failed to read them their Miranda Warning at the time of their arrest.
Dr. Nancy Kellogg
There are several aspects of Dr. Nancy Kellogg’s medical report and subsequent testimony at two trials that are questionable.
At the outset of the medical examination Dr. Kellogg had both V.L. and S.L. give a verbal account of the alleged sexual assault. At the trials Kellogg described the girls as being “guileless and spontaneous” in their accounts of the incidents. Kellogg made no attempts to verify the information given by the girls, which specifically named Elizabeth Ramirez and her friends as perpetrators. These statements regarding the particulars of the incident were taken before the genital examination raising questions regarding preconceived expectations of her findings that would not have existed in a “blind” examination.
In her medical report of V.L.’s examination Dr. Kellogg initially reports an “irregular white area on hymen at 3 o’clock”. In the report summary, this same irregular white area became a “hymenal scar consistent with vaginal penetration”. Medical research in the late 1980s and early ’90s clearly showed these types of anomalies were not evidence of sexual abuse, but were in fact normal anatomical variations. While they had previously been reported as evidence os sexual abuse, by 1997 it was no longer accepted by the medical community, and Kellogg should have been aware of this. Kellogg’s report also indicates that a colposcope was used during the examination and 6 photographs were taken. On several occasions the defense asked for copies of these photos to have them reviewed for an independent medical opinion but Kellogg failed to provide them. At Elizabeth’s trial Kellogg did mention that due to the time that had elapsed (two-and-a-half years), the file had gone into long-term storage and was difficult to access. Therefore the only “proof” that this scar ever existed is Kellogg’s word.
The third and most unusual aspect of Kellogg’s medical reports comes on the final page of both reports where she states “I have spoken to Sgt. McKay r.e. concerns this may be Satanic-related.” At both trials Kellogg came ready to testify to her satanic- or cult-related abuse theory. At both trials a discussion was held outside the presence of the jury, and the judge ruled it could not be brought into evidence. However, Dr. Kellogg’s theory had been imparted to both the police and prosecutors and influenced their investigation, preparation and prosecution of the case.
During the initial description of the alleged sexual assault Javier Limon handed a doll to V.L. and it was used to show what had happened to them. In his September 28/94 police report Javier states “I got a doll and put the doll on the bed and asked her to show me what they were doing with this object. I gave her a pen and she was trying to stick the pen in the doll inside the vagina”. This was the first alleged description of the assault and it is reasonable to question whether the use of the doll and the pen was suggestive to the child. It is also important to note that the girls had been acting out sexually with dolls two years before when they made the claim against the 10-year-old boy in Colorado. In her initial report of the outcry statement to police on September 22/95 Serafina Limon also states that V.L. had told her she had seen the women engaged in sexual activity. Specifically she stated “she had seen Kristie and some of the other girls and her aunt Liz with their clothes off and touching themselves all over their body, S.L. said the same thing”. Elizabeth Ramirez stated adamantly at her trial that this “group sex” never happened, and that there was no sexual activity amongst any of the women during the time V.L and S.L. were at her apartment.
No Psychological Examination of Defendants
Despite the fact that there are known personality characteristics of female sex offenders, especially those that offend against pre-pubertal children, the defendants in this case were never given psychological examinations before their trials. If all, or even the majority of them, were shown to be normally-functioning and intelligent young women, without the usual severe emotional problems associated with women who sexually abuse small children, it would have been a major setback for the prosecution.
Assistance With Testimony
During the second trial there is an instance in which the defense lawyers protest against the presence of a woman in the courtroom. The lawyers, and others in the courtroom claim that during V.L. and S.L.’s testimony, this woman was signaling to them by smiling and nodding her head, or otherwise indicating how to answer questions. The woman is not identified by name, but is described as assisting the DA’s office. In the transcript Judge Pat Priest says he is watching the woman, and that he does not see her actions as inappropriate and that she is giving support to the girls during their testimony. Because of this he allows the woman to stay. The woman has been identified by the defendant’s family members as Karen Clos. They claim that she was openly communicating with the girls during their testimony by shaking or nodding her head to prompt them to give the “right” answers.
Although the theory and testimony by Dr. Kellogg of ritual or satanic-related abuse was quashed and not permitted in front of the jury, this information was part of the “evidence” used by police and prosecutors during the investigation and preparation of the case. At Elizabeth’s trial prosecutor Philip Kazen’s opening remarks to the jury are infused with statements about “sacrificial lambs” and how the girls were “sacrificed on the altar of lust”. This indicates that Kazen fully intended to use the theory of satanic- or cult-related sexual abuse as a large part of his theory of motive for the crime.
At Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial, when questioned on her rationale for identifying this case as cult- or satanic-related abuse, Dr. Kellogg stated “My research and experience in this area. If there is a female perpetrator and there”s more than one perpetrator involved, there is a concern for that”. Dr. Kellogg claims to have experience with other cases of satanic-related abuse, but was unable t0 remember if they had gone to trial or not. Dr. Kellogg also claimed that there were articles and publications from “journals” that supported her identification of this case as being satanic-related abuse. When questioned on specifics of the authors, titles and publications, Dr. Kellogg was unable to supply any of that information. Kellogg stated, “I would have to go back and pull up the authors and the articles. I don’t remember the titles of them”. Dr. Kellogg then stated the scope of her responsibility was to “red flag” this case to the police as being satanic-related. According to Dr. Kellogg, it then became the duty of the investigating officer to follow up on that information.
At the second trial, prosecutor Mary K. Delavan also attempted to have Dr. Kellogg’s satanic-related theory for the crime brought into evidence. Trial Judge Pat Priest disallowed introduction of the evidence regarding satanic-related abuse.
There is significant debate in the medical community over exactly what constitutes normal anatomy, and what is evidence of sexual abuse in pre-pubertal girls. (Nathan and Snedeker, 2001) Dr. Kellogg reports a 2-3 millimeter scar that she describes as being “consistent with vaginal penetration” at the 3 o’clock position on V.L.’s hymen.There are several questions surrounding this evidence brought into the courtroom by Dr. Kellogg. The first is whether a pediatrician is the appropriate medical professional to be making this type of diagnosis. There are many medical professionals who would state this type of analysis is the domain of the pathologist. The second point is; the scar was never examined by another medical professional, because Dr. Kellogg did not include the photographs with the medical report, and did not produce the photographs when requested by the defense lawyers. Therefore there was no possibility to question Dr. Kellogg’s diagnosis that the “irregular white area” that she claims to have seen was actually a scar, and that it was consistent with penetration.
Nathan, D. and M. Snedeker. Satan’s Silence: Ritual Abuse and the Making of a Modern American Witch Hunt. Authors Choice Press. 2001. Chapter 9 – Medical Evidence.
Failure to Record Initial Interviews
Neither of the two initial interviews of the girls, after they made their claims of sexual abuse to their grandmother and to their father, was video-recorded. Dr. Kellogg and Detective Matjeka both interviewed the girls but failed to record the interviews. There is now considerable scientific evidence regarding how easily children can be “coached” into telling a story that is not true. As professionals, both Kellogg and Matjeka should have been well aware of these dangers, and therefore of the importance of recording these initial interviews with the girls to get the earliest possible version of their stories and the girls demeanor during these interviews. During his testimony at both trials Matjeka states that he is a homicide detective and it is not the policy of his department to record interviews.
The sexual orientation, and specific sexual practices of the defendants became a central part of both trials. Neither prosecutors nor defense lawyers were well versed on the appropriate terminologies used in referring to homosexuality, as they regularly refer to adult female sexual relationships as “gay” rather than lesbian, and use the euphemisms “lifestyle” and “lifestyle choice” on a regular basis.
Homophobia was present right from the initial stages of jury selection in Elizabeth Ramirez trial. Surprisingly, her own defense lawyer, Freddie Ruiz, made Elizabeth’s sexual preference an issue during the questioning of potential jury members. At least two individuals who openly stated moral opposition to homosexuality during voir dire were permitted to sit on the jury. One of those permitted to stay was Lonnie Gentry, who was elected foreman of the jury. Elizabeth describes them as “Church people”. Why Ruiz would not have struck these two from sitting on the jury is very difficult to comprehend.
During cross-examination of Elizabeth Ramirez, prosecutor Philip Kazen asks her about the specific sexual practices of lesbians, and seems to be trying to connect Elizabeth’s personal sexual habits with the particulars of the alleged assaults on V.L. and S.L. Elizabeth appropriately defers to the general case, and says she can’t comment on the practices of other lesbians. She also does not give him the details he seems to be after.
Throughout the trial, defense lawyer Freddie Ruiz has Elizabeth acknowledge that although she was previously in a long-term relationship with a woman, she has now given up the “gay lifestyle” and become heterosexual. At some points during this exchange Ruiz seems to be asking Elizabeth to apologize to the jury for her sexual interest in women.
At the second trial, prosecutor Mary K. Delavan was much more direct in terms of her attempt to connect the women’s sexual orientation with a predisposition to the sexual molestation of little girls. At the beginning of closing arguments she states to the jury “…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”.
There is absolutely no scientific evidence linking lesbianism with the sexual abuse of female children, and Ms. Delevan produced no evidence to support her statement.
V.L.’s Awareness of Lesbianism
During cross-examination of V.L. by defense lawyers at the second trial, she acknowledges awareness that her aunt Liz and friends were lesbians, and that her father strongly and openly disapproved of this. This statement, in conjunction with the love letters sent by Javier, provides support for the theory that there was vindictive motivation on the part of Javier Limon and his daughters, because Elizabeth refused to marry him, and had not “given up the gay lifestyle”.
During Philip Kazen’s cross-examination of Elizabeth Ramirez, she states that she loves her nieces 100 percent, and would never harm them in any way. Kazen responds to this statement by saying “So, says O.J., ma’am.” That is the court reporter’s version recorded in the trial transcript, of what was said. According to people sitting in the courtroom what Kazen actually said was: “Okay, O. J.” Either way, he made a direct reference comparing Elizabeth’s relationship with V.L. and S.L. to O.J. Simpson and his murdered ex-wife. That highly publicized trial had occurred just before Elizabeth’s. Defense lawyer Freddie Ruiz requested a mistrial based on the inflammatory nature of the statement, but was overruled by Judge Machado. The issue was ruled “harmless error” when raised on appeal.
Malice on the Part of the Trial Judge
During Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial, her sister Rosemary was called as a defense witness. Rosemary gave an account of how her ex-husband, and father of the two girls, Javier Limon came to Colorado, threatened her by holding a gun to her head, and beat her in front of the two girls After ruling Rosemary’s evidence inadmissible and going into recess, Judge Machado, still sitting on the bench, stated to court reporter, Randy Simpson “she probably got beat up because he found out she was a lesbian”.
Spectators in the courtroom overheard this statement. Maria Vasquez, who was present in the courtroom, and overheard these remarks filed an affidavit outlining this occurrence. Cassandra Rivera, one of the other defendants, filed an official complaint against Judge Machado because of this statement.
Maria Vasquez and several other people present at the two trials have commented on the unusual demeanor of V.L. during her testimony. They describe her as having a flat affect with no emotional reaction of any kind even when describing the details of what should have been highly traumatic sexual assaults, and while under intense cross-examination by defense attorneys. Even when confronted with the obvious discrepancies in her testimony regarding the use of a gun and who held the gun, V.L. remains completely calm and is very articulate for a 12-year-old.
Elizabeth describes another very disturbing aspect of this case that occurred at her trial, and occurred again to the other three defendants during their trial. When V.L. entered the courtroom to give her testimony at Elizabeth’s trial, she smiled and waved at her aunt. Elizabeth says that she was “completely stunned” by this response. Family members and others in the courtroom were similarly astounded by V.L.’s actions. Elizabeth’s co-defendants reported a similar reaction from the girls at their trial.