Exoneration hearing for 'San Antonio Four' ends

Women seeking to be cleared in child sexual assault convictions

By Paul Venema - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - Cassandra Rivera was the final witness in a hearing in which four woman who have become known at the San Antonio Four are seeking to have their names cleared in a 1994 sexual abuse of a child case.

All four women -- Elizabeth Ramirez, Anna Vasquez, Kristie Mayhugh and Rivera -- served time in prison following their convictions in separate trials in 1997 and 1998.

Fighting back tears at times, Rivera told of spending 13 years in prison after she was convicted of sexually assaulting 7- and 9-year-old girls.

"I look at my kids -- they're beautiful and I missed so much of their lives," she said.  "I lost all of that. It's very hard to talk about it."

She said she passed up an opportunity for early release because she would not admit that she assaulted the girls.

"There was no way I was going to admit to something like that, " Rivera said. "I wasn't going to admit that I was a monster."

One of the girls has since recanted her testimony, opening the door to this week's hearing on a motion to have the women's convictions set aside and their names cleared.

Senior Judge Pat Priest, who presided over the hearing, will submit a recommendation to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.  It will be up to the appeals court to decide whether the women will be exonerated.

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