Norma Patricia Esparza: the cycle of victimisation


Dr. Norma Patricia Esparza, a psychologist who has worked as a consultant for the World Health Organisation and is a Professor at Webster University in Geneva, faces murder charges in the US and the possibility of the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole for a crime she maintains she did not commit.

Patricia rose from very humble beginnings to become a productive member of society. All along, she has been a fighter for social justice and for five years worked fulltime as a union organiser.

We ask you to sign the petition in support of Norma Patricia Esparza .

Here is Norma Patricia’s story in her own words.

At the age of 20, I was raped in my college dorm. Now, 18 years later, I am being charged with the murder of the man who raped me and face the possibility of the death penalty for a crime I did not commit.

Having been sexually abused by my father from the age of five until I was 12, I was traumatised and further humiliated by the rape. In that state of mind, I did not turn to the police after the attack. I turned to the college nurse but got no help. With no one to turn to, I confided in a man I had dated. He seemed sympathetic but he then became enraged. He wanted me back in his life and in his eyes, I had been damaged, dishonoured.

He and four of his friends took matters into their own hands. One of them took me away, kidnapping me, while my assailant was physically assaulted. The events of that night have tormented me all my life. They were violent and I was terrified for my life. I felt trapped. I could not run or escape. I was outnumbered by three men, one of whom was armed, and two women. I was miles away from my home, without access to a phone or a car and I did not know how to drive.

Months later, I found out my assailant had been killed. I was threatened to remain quiet and pressured by the leader of that group to marry the man I had dated in order to stop me from testifying against him. These people were intimidating. I did not want their fury turned against me.

The events of that frightful night escalated in a way that I could not have possibly imagined and to which I did not contribute. I believed then and I believe now that under no circumstances should a person’s life be taken away by another human being.

I worked hard to rebuild my life after that nightmare, forming a family, becoming a mother, earning a PhD as a psychologist and working as a university professor in Europe.

Last year, I was unexpectedly arrested during one of my professional travels to the USA and imprisoned for two months. I have cooperated fully with the authorities and helped them solve this case. When they arrested these people, I finally felt safe from them and hoped that justice would be done.

But the nightmare has not ended. In order to encourage my cooperation, the Orange County District Attorney’s Office claimed they “were not interested in me” and that “I was not a target”. Yet they continue to charge me with murder despite having evidence that in no way was I involved.

I am fighting to end this continuous victimisation in my life. My trust was violated by my father, by the man who raped me and by a man I dated. Now, my trust is being violated by the authorities who we expect to deliver justice.

I was born in 1974 in a small town in rural Southern Mexico. The town was unpaved, with no sewerage or running water. Its population has remained unchanged at 1000. At the age of five, my mother reunited her three children with her husband, who was living and working in Southern California. There, I attended elementary and junior high schools, where I excelled in academics and athletics and was eventually granted a merit-based scholarship to a top boarding school in New Hampshire. I then returned to California to attend college.

After working at the University of Southern California as a counsellor, I pursued a PhD in psychology. During these studies, I was offered an internship in mental health policy at the World Health Organisation in Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this opportunity, I moved to the Geneva area to work on global health policy and teach as a university professor.

I have worked hard to make something of myself, contribute to society, and most of all, to give my four-year-old daughter a better life than mine. I want the cycle of victimisation to end in my generation.


  1. This is too heinous to even fathom, this woman needs to be freed of any charges against her and the abhorrent rape culture that continues to flourish worldwide needs to be destroyed.

  2. Everyone who works at a college needs to think about how we can provide better support to sexual assault victims. One example is not assuming they are lying, but making sure that health, mental health and police are involved in these crimes of rape.

  3. This absolutely shouldn’t be on this site. The only reference to a nurse isn’t the best, it’s related to a court case in another country and has largely been written by the defendant, so is completely biased, and extends the scope of the blog well beyond what is normally covers.

  4. Dear Morgan, I started working when I was eight years old. Obviously, the workplace was not unionized. But even then, I learned from the adult workers around me the importance of solidarity. By the time I was an adult, I was committed to the union movement (see: ) as has been my wife, Dr. Norma Patricia Esparza.
    Where do we draw the line in our solidarity? Along national lines? Specific occupation as a health worker? I have always believed that an injury to one is an injury to all, was not subject to qualifications.
    Is her presentation of her case biased? Why? When we advocate for nurses and other health workers, do we present the employers’ view in our limited outlets or do we present what we know is true? Of course she presents her side, but it happens to be the truth. But if you want a solid, unbiased investigative reporter’s and legal analyst view, see:
    Morgan and John G., we need to learn to trust one another, those of us committed to solidarity amongst health workers. Patricia has been a committed unionist and is a health worker, dedicated to improving the health systems of poor countries through her work at the WHO. I thank those who posted this blog entry. Think about how you would feel if you saw that someone who has nothing to do with NSWNMA or Australian nurses posts a story about your efforts in their website. Anyone is welcome to ignore it, but please, what damage can it possibly do to publicize this injustice? I guarantee you, before too long, the truth will prevail and you will have been part of achieving a victory against injustice.

  5. I agree with Morgan: this site is about nursing in NSW and the story about Norma only portrays nurses in a negative light. It’s not an issue about NSW or even Australian nursing and it’s not an issue that NSW or Australian nurses are involved with. This site should not be converted into a personal forum.

  6. It remains to be seen in court whether the school nurse acted incorrectly as claimed by Mancilla’s wife, a defendant in the upcoming murder trial. The prosecution has been mum and potentially has documentation of a different version in which the nurse acted correctly. The author is a fundraiser at the Global Fund Geneva which handled about AUD 105 million in donations received from Australia in 2013, however they have zero committed to spend in your country.


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