Four Texas women were convicted of a 1994 assault on two sisters. They lost their appeals and went to prison, where they remain today. A San Antonio Express-News investigation – including interviews with witnesses and experts and a review of police reports, medical studies, and thousands of pages of trial transcripts and other court documents – raises troubling questions about the scientific legitimacy of medical evidence used against the women, whether authorities checked a previous rape allegation made by the girls, and whether anti-gay views prejudiced the jury.
In two trials, the defense called no witnesses to rebut the testimony of pediatrician Nancy Kelloggy, medical director of a child advocacy group. Research available when she examined the girls classified the three signs of sexual trauma she found as either normal, inconclusive or impossible to identify as a scar, as she did. On and off the witness stand, the girls changed their accounts of the timing, weapons, perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities. All of the accused women were or had been in lesbian relationships. In one trial, the jury foreman, a minister, had told attorneys that homosexuality was wrong on religious grounds. The Innocence Project of Texas and the New York-based National Center for Reason, have taken up the women’s case. The Innocence Project’s Jeff Blackburn said it represents “exactly how broken our criminal justice system can be” and called the medical testimony “junk science.”