Petition Closed

Rape victim unjustly charged with murder by Orange County, California District Attorney

At the age of 20, Norma Patricia Esparza was raped in her college dorm. Now, 18 years later she is being charged with the murder of the man who raped her, and facing the possibility of the death penalty for a crime she did not commit.

As a child, Norma Patricia was sexually abused from the age of 5 until 12 by her father. Distressed and further humiliated by the rape, she did not turn to the police after the attack. Instead, she reported it to a college nurse but she received no help. With no one to turn to, she confided in a man she had dated. He seemed sympathetic but then he became enraged. Against her expressed wishes, he and his friends took action into their own hands. She learned later that the rapist was killed and she was threatened with her own life into remaining silent.

She has worked hard to rebuild her life after that nightmare, forming a family, becoming a mother, earning a PhD, and is now a well-respected and admired university professor of Psychology. 

After close examination of all aspects, Emily Bazelon, a legal expert, attorney and investigative report for, concludes in her detailed story that there is no basis for a murder charge, that law enforcement bungled the case back in 1995 and that the DA is overreaching in order to force a plea bargain.

Letter to
Orange County, California District Attorney Tony Rackauckas
We write to express our deep concern over the prosecution of Dr. Norma Patricia Esparza for Murder with Special Circumstances, being led by Mr. Michael Murray on behalf of the Orange County DA Office. Norma Patricia was the victim of rape in 1995 and is now accused alongside 3 others of murdering the man who raped her.

We are astonished that Norma Patricia, a rape victim, is now being treated as a criminal. We are also concerned about the effect this past year has had on her four- year-old daughter and the long-term impact this will have if the situation is not resolved in her favor.

It is hard to see how the continued criminal prosecution against Dr. Norma Patricia Esparza serves the interest of justice. We cannot understand how she can be seen as a threat to society given that she has had no previous accusations or convictions throughout her life. In continuing to pursue her you are sending a troubling message to other rape victims who already have a sense that they will not receive justice within the legal system.

We urge you to take the appropriate action and set Dr Norma Patricia Esparza free.