The Peabody Awards

The Peabody Awards

Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four (Investigation Discovery)




Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four
Winner 2016 | Deborah S. Esquenazi Productions, LLC

A modern tale of colonial-style persecution follows four Latina lesbians—Elizabeth Ramirez, Cassandra Rivera, Kristie Mayhugh, and Anna Vasquez—wrongfully convicted of sexual assault in the mid-1990s. Fueled by the “Satanic Ritual Abuse Panic” of the day, baffling charges by one of the women’s nieces send them all to prison. Director Deborah S. Esquenazi picks up the story nearly a decade after conviction, and through interviews and home videos we learn about each woman and the struggles of being a homosexual woman of color in their conservative Texas community. One of the accusers, now a young adult, recants her story, mobilizing a movement to vindicate the women, dubbed by the media as “The San Antonio Four.” As part of the Innocence Project, the case leads to landmark legislation and exoneration—a poignant victory for these women who maintain acceptance and compassion and never seem bitter or enraged toward their accusers. For highlighting a story of an overlooked population vulnerable to homophobia and misogyny, and the cost of prejudice, Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four earns a Peabody Award.



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