Norma Patricia Esparza was a Southern California college student in 1995 when she says she was raped by a man she met at a bar. Weeks later, she went back to the same spot and pointed him out to her ex-boyfriend. He and two others followed the man, Gonzalo Ramirez, out of the bar, kidnapped him, and hacked him to death with a meat cleaver, authorities say. For the next 17 years, the killing went unsolved and Esparza built her life, earning a doctorate, working as a psychology professor in Switzerland, and serving as a consultant to the World Health Organization. She started a family. But police didn't stop investigating, and they arrested Esparza and the others in 2012. She insisted she was innocent but later accepted a plea deal. On Friday, 21 years after the killing, Esparza was sentenced to six years in prison for her role, the AP reports.
"She has come to the point of accepting what happened and her responsibility for not coming forward sooner," Esparza's lawyer said. It comes after the case drew international attention after Esparza's arrest and prompted an outcry from sexual assault victims' advocates, who said the case sent a chilling message to rape survivors. Esparza's friend Eloisa Martinez said outside court Friday that she hoped the case would encourage more victims to report rape to authorities. "I truly believe had she said something when it happened, maybe she wouldn't be here today," she said.