This engrossing documentary provides a vivid and emotionally driven portrait of some of the enduring and scary shadow elements of American society, both past and present. At the hub is the true story of four lesbian women in San Antonio who were convicted of sexually assaulting two young girls in 1994.
Anna Vasquez, the most articulate of their group, holds our gaze each time she is filmed talking about her life, her shock at being accused of a crime that is beyond her wildest imaginings, and the mixture of anger and sadness at spending 20 years in prison.
Liz Ramirez is an outgoing lesbian with two young daughters from her estranged husband. At the time they were arrested, she was in a relationship with Anna. Both women were shocked when they were charged with gang-raping the two little girls (aged 7 and 9). Two other lesbians, Cassandra Rivera and Kristie Mayhugh, were also accused of being involved in the crime.
The story of the San Antonio Four hammers home the disquieting fact that in many courtrooms, truth and justice are nowhere to be found. The trial of these women was rife with prejudice against lesbians, reliance upon junk science, and fears about witchcraft. Director Deborah S. Esquenazi made a masterful decision to let the four women tell their story themselves. The documentary gathers momentum as the director spins out shadow elements of American society that made it possible for this outrageous miscarriage of justice to happen: homophobia, misogyny, national panic over Satanic ritual abuse, racism, and economic inequality. The last section of the film contains a very moving depiction of forgiveness that touches the heart.