Everyone remember the weird surge of false accusations of ritual child sex abuse in the 80's and early 90's? Probably not. Some of you are very young! I myself think of that time as shrouded in the distant past, but some people have been living it for the past 15 years. These four women had been locked up in Texas since 1998 on charges of molesting the nieces of one of them, aged 7 and 9 at the time.

The girls accused Ramirez, their aunt, and her friends of attacking them twice in late July 1994 while they were visiting Ramirez at her apartment. The assaults allegedly involved the girls being held down, touched on their breasts, and having liquid and white powder put into their vaginas. The older girl claimed she had a gun held to her head and was told if she revealed the attacks to her dad and grandmother, with whom she lived, they would be killed.

The dad and grandmother are supposed to be the instigators of the lie — he was infatuated with Elizabeth Ramirez and had been sending love letters and unwanted attention her way since she was 15. There never was any actual evidence, the kids' stories never matched up, etc, but they were convicted for two main reasons. First of all, Elizabeth Ramirez (19), Anna Vasquez (19), Cassandra Rivera (19), and Kristie Mayhugh (21), are lesbians, and their trial was filled with a ton of bullshit gay panic complete with accusations of Satanism. Secondly, there was expert testimony presenting "proof" that a sexual assault had taken place.

The evidence in question related to alleged signs of abuse on the older girl's hymen.

The women, known nationally as the "San Antonio 4," had always maintained their innocence and said the attacks never happened. At trial, child abuse expert Dr. Nancy Kellogg, who examined the girls, who were 7 and 9 at the time of the alleged assaults, said the older one had a scar on her hymen indicative of abuse that could have only occurred during the time the alleged assaults occurred.

A study published in 2007 by the American Academy of Pediatrics "concludes that torn or injured hymens do not leave scars as a matter of scientific fact," Ware said.

Sometimes it turns out that the experts are basically making shit up as they go along, and I also hear that bite mark analysis is landing on the junk pile along with the sort of arson burn pattern mumbo jumbo that got Cameron Todd Willingham executed for a murder that never even took place. If there's one upshot to his killing, it's that Texas now has a "junk science" law that allows people to challenge convictions based on disproved or discredited forensic methods. Thanks to that, at least three of the San Antonio four were able to get out of prison before their 40th birthdays, so the system works!