October 18, 2017 • 6:30PM
After being wrongfully convicted of gang-raping two little girls during the Satanic Panic witchhunt era of the 80s and 90s, four Latina lesbians fight against mythology, homophobia, and prosecutorial fervor in their struggle for exoneration in this riveting ‘True Crime’ tale. As lesbian low income women of color, these women hold intersecting identities that make them the most vulnerable to incarceration and juror bias. This under- reported injustice is actually widespread: Latina women represent one of the fastest growing populations heading into prison. Southwest of Salem won a Peabody award, the Critics Choice Award for ‘Best First Feature’, and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Documentary, among many other distinctions.
Screening will be followed by a panel and Q/A organized by The Women’s Law Project.
Just added – Cassandra Rivera!!
Cassie is one of the subjects of tonight’s film. She is a Latina lesbian from San Antonio, Texas. She is the mother of two children, Michael James and Ashley Nichole, and she is a proud grandmother. In 1994, Cassie’s life took an unfortunate turn when she was accused of two counts of sexual assault of a minor. The next year she lost her father to bone marrow cancer, and in 1998 she was convicted of gang raping two young girls. She appealed several times only to be denied, and was sentenced to fifteen years in prison in 2000.
During this time, Cassie never gave up. She prayed, wrote, and reached out to anyone who would listen and eventually, a Canadian who discovered the case introduced Cassie and her three friends to the National Center for Reason and Justice. The National Center for Reason and Justice connected them with the Innocence Project of Texas and attorney Mike Ware who successfully appealed with the fourth court of criminal appeals in 2016, exonerating Cassie and her friends.
Now Cassie travels with the San Antonio Four speaking with law students all over the world to bring awareness of the injustices that she faced. She works to bring hope to the wrongfully convicted. She still resides in Bexar County where these tribulations took place. She works for an attorney named Rosie Gonzalez.
Elizabeth DeLosa, Managing Attorney at the Pennsylvania Innocence Project.
Eizabeth (Liz) DeLosa obtained her B.A. from the University of Pittsburgh in 2004 and her J.D. from Duquesne University School of Law in 2010.
After law school, DeLosa was recruited by the Allegheny County Office of Conflict Counsel to develop two new programs to ensure quality legal representation for court-involved youth. She collaborated with community youth agencies, county government agencies, and court officials in developing the program model and mission. Both programs have been widely praised and have continued to grow and expand over the last several years.
After passing the Pennsylvania bar exam, she joined the Office of Conflict Counsel’s adult trial unit where she represented adult criminal clients in cases ranging in severity from summary disorderly conduct to first degree homicide.
In 2014, she and her husband moved to the U.S. Virgin Islands where she gained invaluable federal criminal trial experience through her work as a research and writing attorney and assistant federal defender for the Federal Defender’s Office in the District of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
DeLosa currently serves as the managing attorney for the Pennsylvania Innocence Project’s Pittsburgh Office, which is located in Duquesne University School of Law’s Tribone Center for Clinical Legal Education.
Cassandra Rivera (via Skype) – one of the women who’s story is told in the film
Lacie McDonald – Center for Victims
More information coming soon!