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Freeing the San Antonio Four

Photo: Michael Barajas, License: N/A

Michael Barajas

Anna Vasquez planned on attending nursing school when she was arrested at age 19; Cassandra "Cassie" Rivera was raising two young children when arrested at age 19; Elizabeth Ramirez was 20 years old and pregnant when arrested; Kristie Mayhuh, arrested at age 21, was studying to become a veterinarian.


In court, Kellogg claimed her concerns of Satanism stemmed from published studies on the matter, though she couldn't specify or name any of them. Still, anyone in Kellogg's position should have been familiar with a report by FBI Behavioral Science Unit supervisory agent Kenneth Lanning, written two years before Kellogg ever examined Ramirez's nieces, Nathan insists. That $750,000 study determined that rumors of such Satanic conspiracies were bogus. The panic was so palpable, Lanning noted in his report, that some true believers accused him of being "a 'satanist' who has infiltrated the FBI to facilitate a cover-up."

Worse than her devilish hunches, Kellogg presented medical testimony unsupported by the research both today and at the time she examined the girls, according to experts who reviewed Kellogg's findings in the case.

Many physical signs of abuse identified by doctors in 1980s cases, like bumps, white lines, and other markings on hymens, were found through several studies in the late 1980s and 1990s to appear in both abused and non-abused girls. Signs once considered definitive evidence of child sexual trauma were described as normal variations of child anatomy. But in her exams and testimony at trial, Kellogg noted a thickening of the hymen as a sign of trauma, something listed in widely circulated classification charts as early as 1992 as "normal." Kellogg noted the hymen's increased redness in the younger sister was evidence of assault, but later admitted it could have other causes. Kellogg noted a white line in the older sister's hymen, calling it a scar and clear evidence of abuse.

"The medical, physical evidence does not lie," prosecutor Philip Kazen, now a state district judge, told the jury in Ramirez's 1997 case. "You can't make that tag — you can't make that painful tear, that painful healing, that painful scar up. That's why we brought you Dr. Kellogg." Martin Finkel, an internationally recognized authority in the medical evaluation and treatment of child sexual assault, reviewed Kellogg's notes in the case, calling her diagnoses "an over-interpretation of trauma." Like most experts in the field, Finkel, medical director of the Child Abuse Research Education Services Institute at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, said gathering a comprehensive medical history before doctors or nurses physically inspect a child is the most crucial step of the examination process. Finkel said Kellogg's notes on the children's medical history wasn't "as detailed as I think they should be."

"The child's going to provide to someone a history of bleeding and pain, you don't just randomly get scar tissue without a history of trauma," he said.

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Tears fell from Elizabeth Ramirez's eyes when speaking of her three friends. "Most of all, they don't deserve to be here," she told the Current in a prison interview. All four women were ultimately convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child and indecency with a child. All four say they turned down a plea deal before heading into court, believing their innocence would be proven at trial. Pegged as the ringleader, Ramirez was sentenced to 37 and a half years. Kristie Mayhugh, Cassandra Rivera and Anna Vasquez, who were convicted in a second trial in 1998, were all handed 15 year sentences.

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