Southwest Of Salem: Story Of The San Antonio Four
(Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, Anna Vasquez, et al / DVD / NR / (2017) 2018 / Film Rise - MVD Visual)
Overview: 'Southwest Of Salem: The Story Of The San Antonio Four' excavates the nightmarish persecution of Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez -- four Latina lesbians wrongfully convicted of allegedly gang raping two little girls.
DVD Verdict: For those not in the know, and as we all find out together from the off, in the summer of 1994, Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez were accused of sexually assaulting the seven and nine year-old nieces of Elizabeth Ramirez in San Antonio, Texas.
The four openly gay women were charged after a week-long visit from the nieces at Ramirez’s apartment. The 19 and 20 year-olds were indicted in an environment of ubiquitous homophobia and the idea that homosexuals are naturally prone to sexually abusing children.
The incident was speculated to be “satanic-related” and had no accurate forensic evidence to support it. All were sentenced to 15 years in prison with the exception of 22 year old Ramirez, the supposed "ringleader," who received a 37.5 year sentence.
At the time, Ramirez was pregnant and was forced to give up her newborn baby several days after the start of her sentence. Anna and Cassandra were also partners in the midst of raising two children.
The brilliant storytelling of 'Southwest Of Salem: Story Of The San Antonio Four' showcases the innocent women's fight for innocence and persistence throughout their nearly 15 years in prison.
In 2012, one of the nieces admitted to having been pressured by her father, Javier Limon, to make the false accusations. Limon, Elizabeth's brother-in-law, had previously attempted to pursue Ramirez romantically, but his efforts were rejected.
In 2013, a new law was introduced to Texas allowing individuals to challenge their convictions if there is new or changed scientific evidence. In Southwest of Salem Esquenazi follows the pivotal court hearing during which the women challenged their convictions, as well as the hearings that followed.
Indeed, Cassandra Rivera was given parole in 2012 while the others were released on bail in 2013 with the assistance of the Innocence Project of Texas.
This bizarre case is the first to be adjudicated under momentous new legislation: for the first time in U.S. history, wrongfully convicted innocents can challenge convictions based on debunked scientific evidence.
The film also unravels the sinister interplay of mythology, homophobia and prosecutorial fervor which led to this modern day witch hunt; and is as riveting an expose as anything you will see this year. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1:85.1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.