“This case is the last gasp of the Satanic ritual abuse panic,” said Debbie Nathan, an expert featured in the new documentary, Southwest of Salem.
The film—airing on Investigation Discovery—is about four Latina lesbians who in 1994 were wrongfully accused of gang-raping two little girls in Texas.
The women—Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh and Anna Vasquez—were released from prison “when one of the girls recanted, and some of the forensic evidence were debunked in 2012 and 2013. They have yet to be exonerated, though, and their freedoms are still curtailed,” reports Indiewire.
Deborah S. Esquenazi, the director of the documentary had hoped to end the film with the exoneration of the San Antonio four, but that was not to be. “But the hours passed, and the judge got more ornery,” Esquenazi said at the Television Critics Association panel for the film. “I told them, ‘This is the end. It does not look good.’” The case is under review at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, but a date for the hearing has yet to be set.
The four women are out of prison, but they “still have to report to a judge to be able to travel, even to be here [on the panel] today,” Ramirez said. “The judge has to sign off on it. We can’t leave 75 miles out of San Antonio. Every day is difficult still.”
“Southwest of Salem is a riveting and layered true crime story that explores the web of prejudices in a contentious trial and the interrelated political and personal forces that work to convict those thought guilty that perhaps trample the innocent in the process,” wrote Cara Cusumano for the Tribeca Film Festival.
Watch the trailer below.
Southwest of Salem premieres Saturday, October 15 at 8pm on Investigation Discovery.