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Finally Free, San Antonio 4 Want Full Exoneration

Paul Flahive
TPR News
The San Antonio 4 from left: Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassie Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez.

In an at times emotional press conference this morning, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez, Elizabeth Ramirez and Cassandra Rivera, also known as the San Antonio 4, talked about what it meant to them to finally be free after more than a decade in prison.

Elizabeth Ramirez was 20 years old and pregnant when she was first arrested.

"For me it was -- I got to finally hear my son for the first time say, 'Mom, I love you,'" Ramirez said.

Her son, who is now 15, is older than Ramirez two nieces who first made the allegations of sexual abuse against the women that began this nearly 20-year journey. One niece has openly said the allegations were lies she was forced to say. 

The details of the claims were outlandish, with satanic overtones, and also featured bad science. The late 1980s and early 1990s saw a plethora of cases of satanic sexual rituals with children -- nearly all proved false.

Cases against children are often the hardest for people to think rationally about, said Debbie Nathan with The National Center for Reason and Justice, the group that sponsored the San Antonio 4.

"More and more we lock up people and throw away the key, especially when they are accused of hurting children," Nathan said. "These people find it almost impossible to find help to get their due process rights."

Cassandra Rivera said they haven’t even considered what life would be like without being fully exonerated.

When reminded it could take a long time, Elizabeth Ramirez simply said, "I've been locked up for 16 years. If I have to wait my whole life for it, I will."