Evangelina’s braids

Two braids made Cervando a Presbyterian. Back in Mexico in La Cardona near Mier y Noriega long before the revolution, as a teenager Constantino was smitten with Evangelina. He and a friend were riding through a dry riverbed one morning when he met the local priest and his companion riding in the opposite direction. As they approached, the priest said “Constantino, didn’t you have a fancy for Evangelina?” And with that he pulled two braids with blue ribbons out of his pocket and dangled them in front of Constantino. With a knowing smirk the priest replaced them in his pocket and pushed past Constantino and his friend.

Many years later when Cervando’s father, Cervando senior, asked for Maria’s hand in marriage Constantino said, “You may marry but NOT in a Catholic church!” And so they were married in Dallas at the El Divino Salvador Presbyterian Church at 1803 Payne Street between Akard and Harry Hines near what is now the American Airlines Center.

And that is how Cervando became a Presbyterian.

I will leave it to you to decide if the priest took more than Evangelina’s braids.



Signs of Childhood Sexual Abuse Part One

So let’s review. The chlamydia infection is bogus. It is not documented by a positive culture. And even if Shelly did have chlamydia (which she didn’t), it is NOT evidence of childhood sexual abuse as Dr. Sparrow testified.

There are enough questions about the Condylomata that a competent attorney would have made mincemeat of the accusation that Mitch gave Shelly venereal warts.  (Definition: to make mincemeat of = to destroy utterly). No other doctor saw Condylomata on Mitch. I think Dr. Sparrow as a baby and female doctor was inexperienced in what she saw and viewed Mitch through a filter of presumed guilt. Dr. Sparrow and Vondren described the warts on Shelly in different areas and Dr. Kazmer did not see them at all!

The confession was probably coerced by a skilled detective manipulating an immature uneducated 22 year old who just wanted to go home. At the least it is a possibility the jury should have been encouraged to consider by a competent defense attorney.

  1. I have done enough to put serious doubt in my mind and I hope in yours.


What about the testimony of two physicians about Shelly sexual injuries?

That was essentially what an investigator for The Innocence Project told me. Two physicians testified to evidence of sexual abuse. He also read the confession and felt that it rang true – i.e. a valid confession using the words and phrasing of an uneducated 22 year old. He was not bothered by the lack of recording or notes.  Disappointed, my pendulum swung again. But I digress.

I didn’t know much about sexual abuse when I started Mitch’s case. I’d had some patients who admitted to having been abused in childhood. I found this often when I was doing weight management. So many of the women I saw who were overweight had been abused as children. It was almost like they used their poundage to insulate themselves from intimacy and thus further hurt. Childhood sexual abuse (CSA) leaves scars and they are deep.

As I read about CSA most of the articles and books dealt with similar issues that we examined in confessions. Is the accusation truthful? Is the memory accurate? Is this real or fantasy (remember Ann in an earlier Blog: Return from a Side Trip)? And like a confession an accusation of CSA is believed almost universally. Lives have been ruined on the basis of false accusations.

But Mitch’s case was different. The accusation came from a doctor and was corroborated by another doctor. Shelly couldn’t say what did or did not happen. (At trial the ADA brought Shelly into the court for the jury to see. Mitch said if they had let him call her she would gladly have come to him. She was not afraid of him.)

What I have learned is that evidence of CSA is not nearly so straight forward as you might expect. Physical findings and statistics are used to support claims of CSA that are later shown to be invalid. In fact there is very little written about the appearance of normal pre-pubescent female genitalia prior to the 1980’s. In her book entitled First Do No Harm: The Sexual Abuse Industry and her article entitled Medical Considerations in the Diagnosis of Child Sexual Abuse , Felicity Goodyear-Smith, a New Zealand Physician, gives evidence of the over diagnosis of CSA and the flimsy physical findings used to  support the claim.

To be specific I will need to use graphic descriptions that some may find offensive. For those readers I suggest you skip the next blog.