Friday, November 22, 2013

Norma Esparza: Long Suffering Victim or Master Manipulator?

Cold case: When investigators learned Esparza and Van were divorced, they re-opened the murder case of Gonzalo RamirezOne has to wonder why the prosecution is so bent on taking an 18-year-old cold  case to court, accusing a 39-year-old married psychology professor with a darling four-year-old daughter of being involved in a gruesome killing of a young man, not by her hand, but by her boyfriend after she told him that she had been raped by the murder victim. What is it that the media is not telling us that the police have gotten from her interviews and the other four involved in the crime that make them feel the need to pursue her conviction after almost two decades? What do that have that would be worth taking this woman in front of a jury that will likely feel sorry for her?

For The Daily Mail is this story of what the prosecution says happened:

Prosecutors are calling the murder of Gonzalo Ramirez a 'revenge killing.'
They allege that on 15 April, 1995, a 20-year-old Esparza was at a bar with a gourp of friends, including former boyfriend Gianni Van, when she pointed out Ramirez, claiming he had raped her in her dorm room at Pomona College a few months earlier.
According to the prosecution, Esparza, Van, Kody Tran, Diane Tran and Shannon Gries followed Ramirez when he left the bar in the early hours of the following morning.

They intentionally rear-ended his vehicle, say prosecutors, forcing him to get out of the car to inspect the damage.
He was then kidnapped. His body was found on the side of Sand Canyon Road in Santa Ana hours later.
Esparza says she was forced by the aggressive Van to identify Ramirez and then coerced to keep the secret of his murder for almost two decades.
Diane Tran, Shannon Gries and Gianni Van have also been charged. All have pleaded not guilty.
Kody Tran died after shooting himself in a  standoff with police last year.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Esparza says she met Ramirez in a Santa Ana nightclub. The next morning he asked her to breakfast and offered to drive her and some friends back to Pomona College.

Once in her dorm room, he raped Esparza, who went to a school nurse and was given the morning-after pill.
She was too ashamed to report the rape to authorities and the nurse did not advise her to do so.
'I don't think I was thinking at that time,' she said. 'I felt ashamed. I felt guilty. I didn't want to come forward because I didn't want my family to know.'
Julie Ann Rojas, who was Gries then-girlfriend, testified that she was with Van and Esparza the night Ramirez died.
She said Van, Gries and Kody Tran attacked Ramirez while she and Esparza went to a bar. After about an hour Roja and Esparza went to the transmission shop owned by Kody Tran where Esparza said she saw Ramirez tied and hanging from the ceiling.

After Ramirez's death, Esparza began dating Van again and the two were married.
Esparza's current husband Jorge R. Mancillas told reporters that Esparza was pressured into marrying Van so that she would not be bound to testify against him.

Cold case: When investigators learned Esparza and Van were divorced, they re-opened the murder case of Gonzalo Ramirez

He said that his wife was told that Ramirez was 'roughed up' and was unaware of the murder until weeks later when she was questioned by police.
Esparza, who says she suffered years of sexual abuse by her father as a child, said at a news conference Wednesday that she lived in fear of Van for years after the attack.

'All I knew is that I wanted to survive,' she said.
'All I knew was that these people were dangerous and I just needed to stay quiet and withdraw and come out of that night alive.'

Okay, this is a terribly sad story, but is it believable? Maybe, but is maybe good enough?

What I see here is a woman who indeed seems to make choices which always go in the wrong direction. Is she just foolish, suffering from PTSD, or does she have a narcissistic personality disorder, possibly Munchausen's? Does she cower before men or does she manipulate them with her sob stories and push them into proving their love for her? Or was this whole crime about something else and she and her boyfriend just made up that story about the rape to have a sympathetic motive?

The problem I find with her story is that she alleges this and that without proof of these accusations being true. Her behaviors, always accusing others for her plight and her statement as to why she refused the pleas agreement, that she was not responsible for what happened is concerning to me. 

She is certainly responsible for what happened. She went drinking at a bar and chose to bring a man back to her dorm room. If he raped her, I would say this is the only choice she didn't make. She claims she went to the nurse the next day to get the morning-after-pill but the nurse did not advise her to go to the police. So she chose not to file charges.

She claims her boyfriend forced her to point out the guy who raped her - she clearly chose to tell him her story and she chose to identify the man to her boyfriend, but not the police. Then her boyfriend and a bunch of other kidnapped and brutally kill this man (all of them were willing to do this over her claim she was date raped?) and she viewed the man hanging and beaten but she chose not to go to the police with that crime either.   Then she chooses to date the killer and she chooses to marry him because, she claims, she was scared of him and wanted to be "safe" from retaliation (he supposedly didn't want her to testify against him). Marrying a violent killer doesn't seem like a safe idea to me. Especially since she claims she was sexually abused by her father growing up, so home is not really a very safe place to be with a violent and controlling man.

I know some will respond that all of Esparza's behaviors are very possible for a woman who grew up abused, that she relates differently to situations than someone who has never suffered from PTSD or lifelong fear of abusive men. I, on the other hand, find it a bit hard to swallow that Norma Esparza wasn't more culpable in this crime and I believe that is why the prosecution is so doggedly pursing her to court. I think there is something else behind the murder of this man, something that will will likely never learn considering the media is slandering him right and left calling him a rapist when there is not a shred of proof he raped Esparza. Maybe the whole thing was about drugs; maybe he spurned Esparza and she told a story to her new boyfriend to pay him back. I don't know. What I do know is she has a lot of finger pointing going on and she holds herself not at all responsible for any of her own actions like bringing home a strange man to her dorm room (who knows what happened after that, whether they had consensual sex or it was a rape), not reporting the rape to authorities to  get justice and prevent him from raping other women, hooking up with a violent boyfriend, telling him about the alleged rape and pointing out the alleged rapist/victim to him when she knew that doing so might escalate some violent action from said boyfriend, not going to the police, obviously lying to the police, marrying the killer, continuing to not go to the police for almost two decades, and now she doesn't think she has the slightest responsibility for the horrific death of this young man. Now, maybe if he did rape her, she thinks he got what he deserved, but she is still responsible in some fashion for the murder of this man, regardless of the reason he was tortured and killed.

It will be interesting to see what will come out at trial. I think she should have taken the plea deal of three years which I think was a heck of a nice offer from the prosecutors for all the trouble she has caused.

Criminal Profiler Pat Brown


Pat Brown said...

She clearly knew the guy was going to be beaten up. There was an entire gang ready to go and do it and she pointed him out to them. She also knew what kind of guy her ex-boyfriend was (who she dated again after the fact) so it isn't like all this was innocent.

Pat Brown said...

The prosecution says she has changed her story. Also, if you know you could be arrested, why return to the US for a conference? What is more important, your freedom and your daughter and husband or a meeting? Does she suffer from arrogance, a trait of narcissism?

Anonymous said...

It's the victim mentality. Its been going on for far too long because so many get away with it. I don't know much about this case to be honest. Better do some research!

Anonymous said...

Pat, away from the topic...would you ever profile the Ben Needham case? I'd love your opinion on it. From theories of him being stolen to his uncle taking him out on his motorbike and having an accident to him being buried in rubble (now proven to be very unlikely). You will find Kerry Needham refreshingly different to Kate and Gerry Mccann.

Pat Brown said...

Anonymous 6:09

I haven't had the energy to do a study of this case. I would say there are two possibilities (without doing an analysis of the evidence and interviews) that are the same as the McCann's. A local pedophile or an accident that was covered up. Certainly, there were some issues in how the little boy was being watched or cared for that day. IF there was some kind of accident, the mother may have an inkling but be in denial. Or she could know but simply not want her relative, especially if it is a son because that would not be the first time a parent would work to save the living child, to go to prison. Or it could be a predator. None of this I can be very sure of without a lot of study.

Anonymous said...

:-( would love to see you profile it but it isn't a 5min task so I don't blame you. I've read forums where people have written in wondering about Ben Needham and what your take would be on it. Please keep up the good work especially the Mccanns case as the British media are unbelievably biased!