By: JEFF FREEMAN
Re: McTunnels 1/2
From: Debbie Nathan <71203.3162@CompuServe.COM>
Subject: McMartin Tunnels
McMartin Preschool Tunnel Claims: Evidence of a Hoax
A revised edition of THE COURAGE TO HEAL, by Ellen Bass and Laura
Davis, includes a new chapter on the "backlash" attempt to
discredit claims of real child abuse. As an example, the authors
cite the McMartin Preschool ritual abuse case and claim that it
must be taken seriously since "tunnels" have been found under the
This claim has also recently appeared in the JOURNAL OF
PSYCHOHISTORY, the American Professional Society on the Abuse of
Children's bulletin (The APSAC Advisor) and in other venues, where
they are promoted by Dr. Roland Summit, of UCLA; and by Katherine
Coulbourn-Faller, of University of Michigan.
Following is background on the people who have promoted the claim
and of events surrounding the dig. As will be seen, much evidence
suggests that the "tunnels" are a hoax. All information herein is
documented by the author's research, as well as in published media
articles, and in Los Angeles District Attorney and Police
Department documents in this author's possession. These are
available on request (but please reimburse copying and postage
In 1984, several months after the McMartin investigation began,
several children involved in the case started talking about having
been taken beneath the school to be molested. Glenn Stevens is a
former assistant district attorney who worked on the case and then
quit after he decided it was a hoax. Stevens notes that most or all
the children who made tunnel claims were going to the same
therapist, Martha Cockriel. DA's office reports support his
By early 1985, a core group of true-believer, highly politicized
parents had coalesced who thought that a satanic cult was behind
the abuse. In late March, 1985, they descended on the school to dig
up the yard. Their intent was to find evidence of the dead animals
that children said teachers had killed and buried to terrorize the
The DA's office heard about the dig and sent investigators to
observe. At some point, a parent who was digging called everyone
over and claimed to have just unearthed a tortoise shell. An
investigator examined the site and noted that the shell lay in soil
of a different color than the surrounding dirt, and that it also
contained fresh leaves. The DA's office had a Huntington Beach
surveying company ultrasound the school to check for any sign of
tampering or tunnels beneath it. No such evidence was found.
However, the investigators did find a small note with a diagram of
the school drawn on it, with "X's" indicating "Turtle 1" and
"Turtle 2." This would suggest that someone had recently buried two
turtles and was providing diggers the directions to locate them.
The foregoing suggests that the parents involved in digging were
deliberately implanting evidence.
The tunnel issue died down until 1990, toward the end of the second
Buckey trial, when the same group of parents (by now with a smaller
number of people) decided to do an "archaeological dig." The main
activists in this effort were Jackie McGauley and Ted Gunderson.
Jackie McGauley's history is this:
Her daughter was 2 1/2 years old when she attended McMartin for a
short period. She was among the hundreds of children who never
testified in the trial, many because their claims were beyond any
Shortly after the investigation started, Jackie McGauley became
intimate with a writer for the Daily Breeze, a LA beach communities
newspaper. After the two broke up, in 1984, McGauley called the
police and reported that her daughter was saying the man molested
her. Charges were never filed but they were made public in the LA
Times and the writer's career was ruined.
In 1985, McGauley's daughter attended a special daycare at the
Richstone Center (a facility where several state-appointed
therapists were treating McMartin children). The daycare was only
for McMartin children, and they had to be "victims" to qualify.
During this period, McGauley called police and told them that her
daughter reported that a therapist at Richstone had molested her.
Police were unable to get much information from the child; most of
it came from the mother. Charges were not filed against the
therapist and the incident never became public.
In 1990, Jackie McGauley was living with Ted Gunderson. He is
former head of the Los Angeles FBI office. After taking an early
retirement in the late 1970s, Gunderson was hired by friends of
Jeffrey MacDonald, the Green Beret convicted of brutally murdering
his wife and small children. MacDonald's case is detailed in Joe
McGiniss' book FATAL VISION. MacDonald always claimed that his
family was murdered by a Charles Manson-like cult, and Gunderson
located a female street person with a history of severe drug abuse
who claimed she had been in the house with the cult when the family
was murdered. From this work, Gunderson apparently adopted the idea
that the country was overrun with murderous Satanic cults. He
elaborated this idea when he was associated with Jackie McGauley
and the rest of the McMartin parents.
In the early 1980s, as Gunderson publicized his theories about
Satanic cults, he began making bizarre claims to the media. One was
that Satanists and the FBI were out to harm him. He once told the
LA Times that someone had thrown a crowbar at him as he drove on
the freeway. Another time, he said, he was sunbathing in his yard
and awoke to find a satanic poem left at his side.
In the late 1980s Gunderson became something of a regular on shows
such as Geraldo. In May, 1989, after the Matamoros drug-cult
killings, he appeared on Geraldo and claimed that Mason County,
Washington was filled with satanist "killing fields" stocked with
hundreds of dead bodies. The county went into a panic and parents
took their children from school. Extensive investigation revealed
no such fields.
McGauley and Gunderson organized the 1990 McMartin dig and hired LA
archaeologist Gary Sickel. Information on Sickel's background will
be forthcoming. At this point, suffice to say that Sickel used
the McMartin parents as the sole excavators of the site. These were
people who not only had an agenda about finding something, but who
had a history of apparently implanting phony artifacts. This is
significant in light of the fact that the artifacts they present
now as their chief evidence are two small (easily implantable)
items: a Mickey Mouse plastic sandwich bag and a saucer with
five-pointed stars painted on it.
The McMartin parents also claim that the tunnels they found are
about five feet high, 30 inches wide, with no flooring, wall or
ceiling material, and completely filled with dirt and paint chips.
Compare this to claims the children made back in the 1980s: e.g.
about a "secret room" 10 feet by 10 feet, filled with sofas and
flashing lights, leading to an triplex residence inhabited by a
little old lady. Construction and contracting professionals whom
the media contacted during the 1990 dig pointed out that the
McMartin site had been continuously built on since the 1920s (it
used to be a stable) and that what was found sounded like the
channels dug for plumbing that are normally found under any such
Currently, McGauley and Sickel are making Sickel's report on the
dig available only to members of the child protection coterie
who have made their careers promoting the existence of satanic
ritual abuse -- such as Coulbourn-Faller and Summit. The report is
not available to the public. McGauley and Summit have said it
cannot be released unless someone (a publisher, for instance) pays
substantial amounts of money for it. This position contradicts the
normal practice in California among archaeologists, which is to
archive their reports for peer review and public use.
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