Her name is Sandra Espinosa. Five years ago she reported to the San Angelo Catholic Diocese, and to law enforcement officials that she had been sexually abused by her priest, Father Miguel Esquivel, then a parish priest from Big Lake. Esquivel also served as priest to her mission church in Rankin. She says the abuse started when she was 13 years old.
"The very first time that I was sexually abused by Father Miguel was in my church, in Rankin," Espinosa explained during an interview at her home in Eldorado. "We had a confessional. I went to confession, and he assaulted me behind our altar in our church."
Sandra was one of nine children, and she says Father Esquivel was a trusted friend of the family. And she says that complicated her understanding of what was going on.
"He would actually have me go to confession after having intercourse with me to absolve me of my sin," she says.
Father Esquivel left his parish in Big Lake. Sandra says her involvement with him ended when she got married in 1992. It was ten years later while watching a TV news report on priest sexual abuse that her own reality set in.
"And I was sitting in the living room watching TV, and this came on. And I felt an overwhelming grief hit me. And I just started crying hysterically. And my husband was totally confused what was wrong with me. And I said, 'I'm not alone.' I'll never forget my first words. 'I'm not alone.'"
A grand jury in Reagan County indicted Father Esquivel on a charge of sexual assault of a child. But the statute of limitations ran out before he could be prosecuted, and charges were dropped. Espinosa then filed a civil suit against the San Angelo Catholic Diocese, under the pseudonym Jane Doe. She alleges that a series of complaints had been made against Esquivel, some prior to her involvement with him.
Her eyes fill with tears as she talks about the emotional burden which she says she carries with her daily.
"I want them to be punished for turning away from the problem that they should have faced head on."
Sandra says she has the support of family, friends and coworkers in her decision to go public with her identity and her story.
"But I think it's very important that I reach out to other victims, other survivors, and let them know that I'm with them, they're not alone, and that we're going to make it through this."