When Clara Tapia met Jorge Iniestra, he was just Jorge. A kind, understanding, caring, and attentive man. She did not imagine even in her worst nightmares that, years later, that same man who called her with sweetness ‘ñoña’ would become the ‘Monster of Iztapalapa’.
Clara did not imagine that Jorge, sentenced to 241 years in prison, would become her aggressor and jailer; that he would charge him ‘dues’ in exchange for giving him information about his daughters; some young women of 12 and 15 years old whom he kidnapped, alienated, and locked in a house where he raped and assaulted them, until in one of the beatings he murdered one of them and one of the five babies he had with the sisters.
Nor did she imagine that she herself would be presented and exhibited before the media as the accomplice of the ‘monster’. And that he would spend three years in prison, due in large part to the idea that Virginia Cruz Domínguez, a psychology expert from the then Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City, decreed in an opinion that Clara, in essence, was a bad mother; a woman who “had to improve her maternal role” as a caregiver, because she would not have done enough to protect her daughters and her teenage son, who also suffered the beatings, humiliations and labor exploitation at the hands of Jorge, ignoring that Clara was another victim subjected to extreme physical and psychological abuse for years.
And even less did she imagine that after proving her innocence and being acquitted after a long and tortuous judicial process, in which two other expert in psychology rejected the opinion of the official of the Attorney General’s Office, she would again feel aggrieved when she learned that the same expert for which she was unjustly imprisoned for years, not only was she not sanctioned, but in August of this year she was hired precisely by the highest body defending rights in the country: the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).
According to the CNDH’s transparency portal, Virginia Cruz Domínguez is the “general coordinator” of experts. A position he reached despite the fact that his actions were pointed out by the capital’s Human Rights Commission, which in 2016 issued a recommendation to the city’s Attorney General’s Office for human rights violations of Clara Tapia, which the institution accepted in its entirety being obliged to offer a public apology and to investigate the officials who violated his rights.
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“It is absurd that this expert has been awarded a position in the CNDH. All she did was apply her personal prejudices to carry out the ruling of my sister, who was unjustly imprisoned and exposed to the media. Therefore, we find it extremely risky that it continues to do so from an institution at the national level such as the CNDH. How many people can be affected by it?” asks Cruz Tapia, Clara’s sister, in an interview.
Animal Político sought the CNDH to request a position or interview with Mrs. Virginia Cruz Domínguez. But, at the time of publication of this report, he had not offered a response.
“You have to earn points to be able to see your daughters”
Clara and Jorge’s story began in 2004. After two failed relationships in which she had three children, Clara felt that Jorge was what she needed at that time to channel her love life.
“At times, he was very kind, very understanding. He even gave me advice. He told me: “You tell me, ñoña, and I give you good advice,” says Clara, who recounted in writing the testimony of the aggressions she suffered for years.
But very soon things began to go awry.
“What are you throwing boyfriend?” asked Jorge when, jealously, he saw her talking with the parents of the school, the teachers, or with some of her classmates. As a result, Clara moved away from the people; of his family, his friends, his companions. Everybody. “I can kill anyone,” Jorge said menacingly. At the same time, clara’s mind forged the idea that her partner was “a superior person,” “a person who was right about everything, a leader much smarter than me, who believed everything.”
Soon, Jorge also began to demand that he not fix himself, that for what. “Only white people can look good,” he repeated to Clara, who wore caps to hide her brown-skinned face.
“I started to feel like just any more girl, like my children. Jorge was in charge of everything and I… I was simply Clara,” says the woman, who began to be subjected to “punishments” such as not receiving food – on one occasion, José Luis ‘N’, a witness who worked at the primary school where Clara worked, told the authorities to investigate.In this case have seen her taking “food waste” out of garbage cans “to feed herself”.
Clara was also forced by her partner to do extra work collecting cardboard through the streets to give her a ‘quota’. And he did the same with his son Ricardo, 11, whom he forced to leave school to exploit him selling sweets and to give him a fixed amount of money every day.
Some time later, with Clara’s self-esteem shattered, and totally dependent on him, Jorge took to his mother’s house in the Iztapalapa mayor’s office the two daughters of his partner, Rebeca and Gabriela, only 12 and 15 years old.
There, Jorge repeated the same process as with Clara: he alternated an affectionate and seductive treatment, with acts of violence, blows, prohibitions, threats, and even limitations to clean himself and go to the bathroom. At the same time, he told them that their mother had abandoned them, that she did not want them or show interest in them, while Clara told her that to give her information about her daughters she had to work harder and “earn points”. “The title of mother is earned,” she said. And you have to gather points to earn that right.”
The teenagers were kidnapped for years. Jorge raped them repeatedly. With the two he had five children during the time he had them in captivity. And both received constant aggressions. One day, the beating was so severe that Jorge murdered Rebeca, who was already 17 years old. He also killed by suffocating his sister’s three-month-old baby, Gabriela. As Jorge confessed when he was arrested in September 2011, he placed the two in bags and abandoned them on the Mexico-Puebla highway, where they were located by authorities who identified them with subsequent DNA tests.
Finally, Clara, supported by her sister Cruz Tapia, went to the authorities of the Attorney General’s Office of Mexico City to denounce Jorge for the kidnapping of his daughters, corruption of minors, labor exploitation, rape and family violence. At the time, she was unaware that her daughter Rebecca had been murdered two years earlier, in 2009.
Clara denounced on June 27, 2011. But it is Clara herself and her sister Cruz who begin to secretly follow Jorge to locate him at his home. And it is until September 5, more than two months later, that the ministerial agents search Jorge’s property where they found the surviving sister, Gabriela, and the four minors. Due to the sorry state in which they found themselves, the media published that day stories that spoke of “the house of horrors” of Iztapalapa.
From victim to accused by a psychological opinion
But, shortly before the search, on August 31, 2011, the expert in Psychology Virginia Cruz, attached to the Subdirectorate of Medical and Assistance Services of the Attorney General’s Office, performed a psychological assessment on Clara Tapia.
In her opinion, the expert concluded that Clara came from a family nucleus “with patterns of violence, abandonment and neglect, significant affective deficiencies,” so she presented “a pattern of permissive, tolerant behavior, which left her minor children exposed at constant risk.” Hence, she requested that Clara receive “psychological treatment, with the aim of improving her maternal role,” since she, unlike her daughters, would have had alternatives to put an end to the abuse, according to the psychologist.
In the end, this opinion, which according to the family lacked a gender perspective, would be key to Clara’s imprisonment, as stated by the Capital Commission in its recommendation 6/2016.
After the search of Jorge’s property, the rescued young woman, Gabriela, after years of abuse and parental alienation, declares what her stepfather had repeated so many times: that her mother had abandoned them years ago. While Jorge himself, after his arrest, accused Clara as his accomplice.
According to what was documented by the Capital Commission, based on the opinion of the expert Virginia Cruz, Jorge’s statement, and Gabriela’s statement, the Attorney General’s Office also denounced Clara for corruption of minors.
That is, Clara went from victim to accused. And the day after the search, on September 6, when she appeared at the Public Ministry as a complainant victim to recognize Jorge and the rest of the detainees – two brothers and the mother – she was also arrested as likely responsible.
That same day, his face was displayed before the media. Even in October, the then capital prosecutor, Miguel Ángel Mancera – ultimately the head of the city’s government – appeared on a television program in which he accused Clara Tapia of having allowed abuses against her daughters.
On October 6, 2011, Carlos Morales García, sixty-fourth pen judgeAl, formally imprisoned Clara Tapia. In his argument, he took as valid the expert report of the official Virginia Cruz, considering that Clara “did nothing to avoid or interrupt, or stop, the aggressions.”
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New expert reports acquit Clara… 3 years later
After moving heaven and earth, Cruz, Clara’s sister, managed with the support of pro bono lawyers and civil organizations, that in January 2012 the Center for Attention to Victims of Domestic Violence (CAVI) carried out other psychological studies on Clara Tapia and her children Ricardo and Gabriela.
Regarding Clara, the new psychological opinion established that the aggressor, Jorge, had generated “a process of helplessness and submission in Clara, violating her sense of identity, leaving her without will, or life of her own.”
In fact, the opinion established that the woman had developed the Battered Woman Syndrome, generating in her a “completely distorted vision of reality” that led her to face the violence of her ex-partner as something “normal”. While, in the case of Gabriela, the young woman had developed the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, which is why she testified against her mother; statement that ended up withdrawing.
But Clara still spent years in prison. On October 23, 2013, two years later, an ‘expert hearing’ was held, where two experts in Psychology from the Directorate of Legal Services and the Public Defender’s Office expressed their disagreement with the conclusions of the expert of the Attorney General’s Office, Virginia Cruz. The two experts explained that Virginia Cruz did not take into account that Clara’s behavior was based “on an abuse syndrome” product of years of physical and psychological aggressions.
On October 3, 2014, the same judge Carlos Morales García, based on these new expert conclusions, ordered to acquit Clara Tapia, who was released after three years in prison. In his argument, the judge said it was “notorious” that Clara “lacked will and autonomy.”
“We demand that the CNDH immediately dismiss it”
Seven years have passed since Clara woke up from the nightmare. But Doña Cruz Tapia, his sister, says that the repair of the damage is not far from being fulfilled.
In recommendation 6/2016, the capital’s Human Rights Commission instructed the city’s Attorney General’s Office to “carry out a public act of recognition of responsibility.” And he also instructed her to carry out an analysis of the investigation carried out by her officials in the case of Clara Tapia, “and in case of finding irregularities” to initiate the corresponding administrative or criminal investigations.
However, Cruz Tapia regrets that “until now we have not had the integral reparation of the damage.” “The recommendation has already been accepted by the Attorney General’s Office, and if it was accepted, it is because they admit that they violated my sister’s rights,” he says. Therefore, Cruz does not understand why the CNDH hired the expert Virginia Cruz.
“She is part of that recommendation. Therefore, what we hope is that she will be removed from the CNDH immediately, and that, as the recommendation establishes, she will be investigated and punished,” adds Mrs. Cruz, who emphasizes that “the hiring of Virginia by the CNDH violates our right to justice, to reparation for the damage, and revictimizes the entire family.” On October 22, Cruz Tapia sent a letter to the CNDH denouncing this case and demanding the dismissal of the expert, which has not yet received a response.
For his part, Héctor Pérez Rivera, Clara’s defense lawyer and coordinator of the Criminal Litigation Clinic against Serious Human Rights Violations of ITAM, also emphasized that Clara Tapia spent three years in prison “from a stereotyped expert report and lacking a gender perspective.”
“The technique of the Expert was terrible. And their ethics are also questioned. And that is something for which the CNDH should pronounce itself,” says the lawyer.
On September 24, the Criminal Litigation Clinic of ITAM sent another letter to the head of the CNDH, Rosario Piedra Ibarra, in which she shows her “concern” about the hiring of the expert. “We hope that this background will be taken into consideration and that efforts will be made to have specialized and sensitive people in the face of victimizing events,” requests the ITAM Clinic.
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