Evidence of Innocence
“Whoever blushes is already guilty; true innocence is ashamed of nothing.”
— Jean-Jacques Rousseau
In false child abuse allegations, there is never physical or corroborating evidence – only the testimony of the alleged victim(s). Although trial theory states the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, the reality of these cases is the defendant is presumed guilty, and must prove their innocence. What they must prove is that no crime occurred. This is a very difficult, if not impossible objective; exactly how does one produce evidence to refute an imaginary crime?
Disproving a non-event is a logical impossibility, but also the blunt reality of the defendant’s predicament. The only option is to show through cumulative logic and circumstance that the alleged crimes are fabrications. Often this type of evidence is ruled irrelevant or inadmissible by the trial judge and never presented to the jury, eliminating any effective defense. The following evidence of innocence shows why the crimes these four women were convicted of did not occur.
During the initial investigation into the case all four women were asked to submit to a polygraph examination. All four agreed believing it would prove them innocent and end the investigation. However the police polygraph technician chose not test Elizabeth Ramirez, as she was pregnant at the time and there were concerns that this might affect the accuracy of the results.
The other three women had the polygraph administered, denied the allegations, and were told that the results of their polygraph examinations were a “pass”. In spite of these results the District Attorney’s Office decided to go ahead with the charges against them.
A History of Unsubstantiated Sexual Assault Claims
In addition to the claim of sexual assault made against Elizabeth Ramirez and her friends, there is evidence of several other analogous claims made by Javier Limon the girl’s father, and Serafina Limon, the girl’s paternal grandmother. These other claims all bear a number of elements similar to the description of the assault that has led to the conviction of Elizabeth and her co-defendants. Each and every one these claims of sexual assault lack any physical or corroborating evidence. It is interesting to note that all of them are directly associated with a family dispute or custody battle.
The first unsubstantiated claim occurred in Denver, Colorado and involved allegations against a 10-year-old boy whom Javier Limon claims their mother Rosa, left the girls with while she went out with her boyfriend. In that alleged event the girls claim 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.. This assault was alleged to have occurred in a locked bedroom and that S.L. was screaming for her sister. This was identical to the charges made against Elizabeth Ramirez. The girl’s father, Javier Limon, claims that shortly after bringing them back to San Antonio from Denver in 1992, they were caught acting out sexually with dolls, which led to their disclosing these events to him. Mr. Limon took his daughters to the Alamo Children’s Advocacy Centre 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. At the time this claim surfaced Limon was in the midst of a custody battle with Rosa for the girls.
Although Javier Limon’s statement disclosing this prior claim of sexual assault against his daughters and the medical report from the ensuing medical examination was in the possession of the District Attorney’s office, it was never introduced at Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial. Elizabeth’s defense attorney, Freddie Ruiz, filed an affidavit and request for a new trial because the report was not among the discovery materials and constituted Brady material. Prosecutor Philip A. Kazen Jr. claims the report was in the file but that “Freddie missed it”. Evidence of a prior unsubstantiated sexual assault claim could have been a major factor in the outcome of Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial.
At the second trial Judge Pat Priest ruled the evidence of the prior sexual molestation claim in Javier Limon’s statement was irrelevant and therefore inadmissible.
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 daughters. 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 the allegations against Mr. Aguirre.
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 just 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 given for this by Rosemary is that S.L. is a compulsive 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. Love letters and unwanted attention from Javier toward Elizabeth beginning when she was 15, show that he had a longstanding infatuation with her. During her testimony at the second trial, V.L. acknowledged that she was aware of her aunt Elizabeth’s sexual preference, and that her father strongly disapproved of this.
The initiation of the allegations against Elizabeth and her co-defendants in September 1994 came when Serafina Limon claimed that she caught the girls acting out sexually with dolls. In fact there is direct evidence from the claim against the 10-year-old boy in Colorado in 1992 that the two girls had been acting out sexually with dolls for more than two years before the allegations against Elizabeth arose.
All of these reported sexual assaults seem to be associated with an intra- or inter-family dispute where claims of sexual assault follow a custody dispute, divorce or other family disagreement. There are a number of similar, or identical recurrent details involving several aspects of the claims. Rosemary Camarillo describes both of her daughters as being extremely selfish and accomplished liars. She states they acquired these traits from their father and that their patterns of mendacity began at an early age.
A Lack of Physical or Corroborating Evidence.
The allegations against Elizabeth and her co-defendants claim that both girls were assaulted in mid-afternoon on two successive days. The girls claim that the assaults occurred in Elizabeth’s small one-bedroom apartment. There is some disparity between their accounts as one girl says the assaults occurred in the bedroom, and the other in the living room. They also claim that they screamed loudly during the assaults. The defendants responded to this by saying that the apartment had no air-conditioning and therefore the windows were open during the day due to the heat of a July day in San Antonio. The apartment opened onto a communal courtyard area where children played during the day and several neighborhood children walked in and out of the apartment freely all day long. No one heard any of these screams despite their close proximity to the apartment.
V.L. claimed at Elizabeth’s trial that immediately after the first assault occurred, Liz held a black gun to her head while she was on the phone speaking to her father, in order to keep her from revealing what had happened. (1256B Vol. III p. 160) During the trial of the other three women, V.L. changed her testimony and claimed that it was Anna Vasquez who held a gun to her head during this incident. (1256A Vol. II p. 15) A police search of Liz’ apartment found no guns, and no one had ever seen either Elizabeth or Anna in possession of a gun.
Contradictions with Female Sex Offender Profiles
Another factor that provides supporting evidence of injustice in this case is the social science that has been conducted and used in the development of female sex offender profiles.
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 lone perpetrators. After enlisting the help of several professional researchers, and reviewing the contents of every database we could access from Google to LexisNexis, we have been unable to identify a single bona fide case where a group of women cooperated in the sexual molestation of a pre-pubertal child. Sexual assaults on pre-pubertal children by women are rare occurrences to begin with.
When the realities of criminal profiles and demographics are brought into argument at a sexual assault trial, prosecutors usually rebut by saying “anyone can be a sex offender”. In the strictest terms, that is true. Law enforcement agencies such as the FBI spend 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 all of the research indicates that it doesn’t happen. Research has shown that women who offend sexually against 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. In some instances women who sexually assault pre-pubertal children grew up in a household where sexual abuse was so prevalent they don’t realize it is inappropriate behavior. Also, probably because they are such a rarity, women who molest small children always act alone.
The Texas Justice System and mainstream media accepted without question, that 4 intelligent and well-adjusted young women, who happened to be lesbians, would participate in the sexual assault of two little girls when the social science surrounding these types of assaults indicated that the odds of this occurring are extremely remote and defy all known characteristics of female sex offenders.
Lanning, K. V. (1992). Investigators Guide to Allegations of “Ritual” Abuse. Behavioral Sciences Unit. FBI Academy. Quantico, Virginia 22135.
Experienced police investigators are well aware that as the number of participants in a crime increases, the capacity to maintain the conspiracy decreases exponentially. It has now been nearly 14 years since the allegations were first made against Elizabeth Ramirez and her co-defendants.
There are four conspirators accused of participating in this crime. Since the original allegations were made in September of 1994 all four of the women accused in these crimes have told the same consistent story, and have steadfastly maintained their innocence. The pressure to “confess” began with the police interviews wherein Cassandra and Elizabeth were threatened with having their children seized by CPS if they did not admit to molesting V.L. and S.L.. The District Attorney’s office gave all four women the same plea-bargain offer of 10 years deferred adjudication. Their court-appointed attorneys strongly encouraged them to accept this offer. Because of their claims of innocence they refused this offer and were forced to fire their court-appointed attorneys, hire private attorneys at their own expense, and proceed to trial. Anna Vasquez, Cassandra Rivera and Kristie Mayhugh refused this plea-bargain offer after they had watched Elizabeth Ramirez convicted on both counts, and sentenced to nearly 4 decades of imprisonment. At that point the pressure for one of the other women to testify against their co-defendants would have been enormous- yet they did not do so.
Three of the four women have now passed the halfway point of their 15-year sentence and are parole eligible. These three had their first parole hearings in late 2007, and in their respective hearings they continued to maintain innocence. They are fully aware that their claims of innocence are considered failure to accept responsibility for their crimes, and they will not be granted parole without “confessing” and completing a sex-offender treatment program. Elizabeth Ramirez fully intends to maintain her claim of innocence when she comes up for her first parole hearing in 2015, and is aware of the consequences of doing so.
For the three parole-eligible women there is absolutely no strategic advantage to be gained from continuing to maintain their claims of innocence. They have been tried and convicted, and have served half of their sentence. Upon release from prison they will be forced to register as sex offenders regardless of whether they are granted parole. At this point in time their innocence claims become a huge liability ensuring that they will serve every day of their sentence. This all lends increasing credibility to their claims of innocence, and that what they want most is the truth.
Javier Limon was in a common-law relationship Elizabeth’s older sister Rosa for many years and they had three children together. Javier first began making overtures toward Liz when she was 15. He was nearly 10 years her senior. These attentions became more frequent and intense after Elizabeth moved in with Javier and Rosa during her last year of high school. Javier wrote Liz a series of love letters, referring to her as “my little angel” sang songs and left them on her voicemail, and offered to pay her bills. This attention made Liz uncomfortable for several reasons. One Javier was married to her sister, and secondly, she didn’t care for him because, in her words, he was a drug dealer, chronic liar, and fraud-artist who manipulated everyone around him.
Although Liz had copies of Javier’s love letters clearly showing a long-standing sexual interest, these were never introduced at her trial. Javier did not approve of Elizabeth’s 3-year sexual relationship with a woman, beginning when she was 16. When that relationship ended and Elizabeth became pregnant, Javier told her he was glad she had given up “the gay life”. When Elizabeth’s boyfriend abandoned her because she would not agree to get an abortion, Javier asked her to marry him. Elizabeth’s refusal of this offer made him very upset. Elizabeth believes Javier’s resentment over refusing to marry him is the motivating factor behind the claims of sexual assault against his daughters.
As an interesting twist, in 2005 Elizabeth received a card in the mail that appeared to be signed by her niece V.L. that originated from her home address. In the card “Venessa” stated that she was “sorry for all the harm I have caused, and don’t know how to make it right”. There are two significant problems with that card. One, V.L. spelled her own name wrong twice, in the signature and the return address. Secondly, the handwriting wasn’t hers. The handwriting on the card however, matches that in Javier’s love letters.
Absence of Tissue Trauma
V.L. and S.L. were happy and made no complaints of pain or bleeding when they were returned at the end of their visit. In fact, at no point during the subsequent investigation and two trials did they ever mention any pain or bleeding resulting from the 2 alleged assaults.
V.L. and S.L. claim that during the sexual assaults, alleged to have occurred on two subsequent days, to each of them, during their weeklong stay at Elizabeth’s house, they were held down while fingers and a tampon coated with gel and a white powder were forced into their vagina on both occasions. They stated this occurred while they screamed and struggled. A tampon applicator has a diameter in the range of 20mm. Hymenal openings in pre-pubertal girls range from 2mm (diameter of a pencil lead) to 7.5mm (the diameter of the pencil). Forcing an object 3-10 times larger than that opening, into a struggling child’s vagina would cause excruciating pain lasting for days afterwards, especially when urinating, significant bleeding, and probably tearing and scarring. (See Medical Examination for Sexual Abuse: Have We Been Misled? Dr. Kellogg’s medical report indicates that both girls had an intact hymen, despite two alleged instances of forced penetration for V.L. In S.L.’s case there were three alleged instances of penetration. This includes a previous accusation involving a 10-year-old boy they claimed had been “sticking his thing” into her while she screamed.
With more years of data collection and experience, investigators of claims of child sexual assault have found one of the best indicators of false claims to be what has not been reported. In cases of forced penetration, failure to report overwhelming pain and bleeding has been identified as probably the single best indicator of a false allegation of sexual assault of pre-pubertal girls.
Freddie Ruiz was Elizabeth Ramirez’ defense lawyer. According to people who sat through the trial Mr. Ruiz defense of Elizabeth was very poor and he “got massacred” by prosecutor Philip Kazen.
Mr. Ruiz was a military lawyer with absolutely no experience in civilian criminal trials. A review of the trial transcript shows his statements and questions in front of the jury are often rambling. He begins to develop a complex idea, and then switches to something else midway through the thought. He seems very sure of himself in terms of winning the case, yet his attempts at eloquence fail consistently. At several points he refers to his children, and also to his brother who is a fighter pilot in Iraq, and how his defense of Elizabeth is much like his brother’s military missions. It appears these are meant to be allegorical statements but their exact relevance is vague.
Mr. Ruiz produced absolutely no expert witnesses to refute the testimony of Dr. Kellogg or Detective Matjeka.
There are several specific points during the trial where it is obvious that Mr. Ruiz did more harm than good for Elizabeth. During the jury selection Mr. Ruiz brings up the fact that Elizabeth “used to be” a lesbian and how this might impact the jury members in terms of personal bias.
Mr. Ruiz also tells the jury during his opening statement that they should prepare themselves to see V.L. break down in tears when he exposes her lies during “vicious cross-examination”. The reality is that V.L. easily handles Mr. Ruiz’ questions and appears to remain unfazed by cross-examination.
Another major incident occurs when the testimony of Rosemary, Elizabeth’s sister is ruled inadmissible. The trial transcript clearly shows that Freddie Ruiz is rattled and distressed by this development. He immediately asks the trial judge for a one-hour break, and this request is refused. After some negotiation Mr. Ruiz is given 15 minutes. (1256B Vol. III p. 384) It appears that Rosemary was the only witness that he had bothered to produce in Elizabeth’s defense. Rosemary would have been able to refute much of V.L.’s testimony including the fact that she had lied about things such as the presence of guns and drugs in their home. Rosa could also have testified to the nature of the girl’s father as well as the fact that, despite appearances, V.L. was very “street-wise” and not an innocent little girl. Rosa could also have stated that the Limon family had made allegations of this sort previously. At this late stage in the trial, there are virtually no options left for Mr. Ruiz to produce any other witnesses. His only option was to put Elizabeth on the stand. Following this point in the guilt/innocence phase, and during the punishment phase of Elizabeth’s trial Mr. Ruiz defense of Elizabeth becomes much more vigorous. Interestingly, Texas Court of Appeals Judge Alma Lopez notes this sudden increased effort on the part of Mr. Ruiz, in the appeals court affirmation of Elizabeth’s conviction.
CPS Failure to Remove Elizabeth and Cassandra’s Children
If San Antonio Child Protection Services believed the allegations against Elizabeth Ramirez and Cassandra Rivera were credible, why did they leave their own children in their custody for several years after the charges had been laid? In Cassandra’s case her own two children remained in her custody for 2 years after she had been tried and convicted of aggravated sexual assault on a child.
Social Workers at Child Protection Services (CPS) have a legal obligation to protect children from abuse. It is standard, and in fact legally required practice not to allow people convicted, or even accused of sex crimes against children from having access to them, if CPS believe those allegations are valid. At the time of the alleged assaults Elizabeth was 3 months pregnant, and later gave birth to a son. Cassie had a 3-year-old son, and a 2-year-old daughter. CPS chose not to participate in the trials of the women, and they only lost custody of their children when they went to prison following their trials. Cassie signed over custody of her two children to her mother. Liz refused to give up custody of her son, who was two when she went to prison, and custody was given to the boy’s father. The women believe the reason for this failure to take their children was that the Limon family had a history of making false child sexual abuse allegations and CPS believed these new allegations were false as well, so they chose not to take Liz or Cassie’s children, or participate in the trials.
There are several significant inconsistencies between V.L.’s initial statements and the version of events she presented at the two trials.
The major inconsistency addressed at the second trial surrounded the alleged threats made against V.L. and her sister, and whether a weapon was used to enforce these threats. In the initial “outcry”
In a statement given to Detective T.R. Lopez by the girl’s father Javier Limon on September 28, 1994 at 1400h. that he claimed was based on statements made by the girls only a few hours after their initial outcry to their grandmother, there is no mention of a weapon being used. Javier Limon’s statement only describes verbal threats being made to silence the girls following the alleged assaults.
During the medical examination of the girls by Dr. Nancy Kellogg on September 28, 1994 at 1000h. V.L. states that “Liz had a black gun and Anna had a black gun. They were pointing it at my head…” This is the first mention of a weapon being used in the alleged assaults. In her interview with Dr. Kellogg an hour later S.L. makes no mention of a weapon and says only “they said if we tell anyone they’re going to kill the grownups at the house”.
At the second trial V.L. states that one of the defendants, Anna Vasquez, “…had pulled out a gun from her drawer and said if I told anybody, she was going to kill my family.” (1255A Vol. III p. 69). At Elizabeth Ramirez’ trial a year earlier V.L. stated that it was Elizabeth who held the gun. When challenged on this issue by defense lawyer Catherine Babbitt at the second trial, V.L. remained adamant that it was Anna who held the gun despite the significant and direct conflict with her earlier sworn testimony and the trial transcript (1256B Vol. III p. 137).
At the second trial S.L. initially states that only verbal threats were used to keep their silence. After direct prompting by Prosecutor Mary Delavan, S.L. states that they showed her a black gun to enforce this threat (1255A Vol. IV p. 35). This was the first mention made of a weapon by S.L. In later testimony she claims that she mentioned the gun to her grandmother during her outcry statement. In her police statement S.L. makes no mention of a gun being used. During trial testimony she claims that she told both Dr. Kellogg and Detective Matjeka about the gun, although the statements they took contradict this.