A psychology professor accused of masterminding the murder of her alleged rapist in Orange County, California, has spoken out, saying she is the victim of a violent rape and of her abusive ex-boyfriend, who murdered her rapist.
Patricia Esparza, 39, says 18 years ago she was forced to join a group of people, including her then ex-boyfriend Gianni Van, 44, in kidnapping Gonzalo Ramirez, 24, and witnessed them beating him as revenge for allegedly raping Esparza in her dorm room.
Esparza is one of four suspects to face charges for the 1995 killing of Ramirez, whose body was found hacked to death with a meat cleaver on the side of a road in Orange County. A fifth suspect died in July.
The married mother and professor at Webster University in Geneva, Switzerland, was offered a deal: plead guilty and face just three years behind bars. She refused the deal, saying she won’t admit to something she didn’t do.
If convicted for the murder of Gonzalo Ramirez, she could face a life sentence. Esparza spoke to NBC’s Today from her prison cell yesterday.
She told Today that her then ex-boyfriend Gianni Van kidnapped Ramirez and forced her to be a party to a violent beating, then two weeks later made her marry him, knowing that as his spouse she could not be compelled to testify against him.
Esparza told the Pasadena Star News that she and Van had never lived together.
‘Never, ever did I give any indication that I wanted Gonzalo Ramirez to be harmed,’ she told Dateline.
‘What I can tell you is that I was dragged, pressured, bullied, intimidated into that night when they actually took Gonzalo Ramirez,’ she said.
‘I never saw him dead. I didn’t know that he had been dead. But I was terrorized by the violence that I witnessed.’
Esparza says she was not aware Ramirez had been murdered until weeks later when she was questioned by police.