McMartin Jury Verdict Readied LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge prepared to unseal verdicts Thurs

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McMartin Jury Verdict Readied LOS ANGELES (AP) - A judge prepared to unseal verdicts Thursday on 52 counts in a molestation case at a once prestigious nursery school after jurors said they were deadlocked on the remaining 13 charges. Unless jurors indicate further deliberations might break their deadlock, Superior Court Judge William Pounders was planning to unseal the 52 verdicts that have already been returned by the panel in the nation's longest and costliest criminal trial. ``Most likely we'll take the verdicts,'' Jim Gilpin, the bailiff in Pounders' court, said Wednesday, after jurors sent the judge a note at day's end announcing the deadlock. Pounders called a hearing for Thursday to discuss the deadlock and possibly opening the 52 sealed verdicts. No alternate jurors remain in the case and the judge has worried that losing one of the 12 remaining jurors would force a mistrial. Jurors have spent nine weeks deliberating on the molestation and conspiracy charges against Raymond Buckey, 31, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 63. They are accused of molesting 11 children during a five-year period at their family-owned McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach. The trial has run nearly three years at a cost of $15 million. If the impasse cannot be broken, the judge would declare a mistrial on undecided counts and the prosecution would have the option to refile those charges at a later time. Buckey and his mother were required to stand trial after an 18-month preliminary hearing. Five female teachers who worked at the McMartin Preschool had charges against them dismissed. Among those were Buckey's sister, Peggy Ann, and his grandmother, Virginia McMartin, who founded the now defunct nursery school. Deliberations had been bogged down since Tuesday when one juror became ill. On Wednesday, the talks did not begin until 1 p.m. because another juror's child was ill. The judge, who will be the first to see the jury's verdict forms, said he's been rehearsing maintaining a deadpan expression - by biting his tongue if necessary - when he first sees the verdicts. ``You will try to read the verdicts on my face,'' he told lawyers. ``But I will wind up with a bloody tongue before I show you (what the verdicts are). If there's any reaction on my face, it will be, `Thank God it's over and we've got all the verdicts.' Then you will see me beaming.'' AP-NY-01-18-90 0306EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Buckeys Admit Flaws, Not More LOS ANGELES (AP) - The issue Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, wanted the jury to consider was not whether they were perfect people, but whether they were guilty people. The Buckeys spoke openly at the McMartin preschool mass molestation trial about Buckey's problems with alcohol, his collection of pornographic photos and Mrs. Buckey's own molestation as a child. But they strongly argued that such dirty laundry, as they characterized it, fell far short of proving them to be child molesters. ``I never in my life have harmed a child, nor could I comprehend how anyone could harm a child,'' Buckey testified in a 1986 bail hearing in his first statements to the court. The Buckeys were the last remaining defendants in what started out in 1983 as the largest and most sensational child molestation case ever, seven defendants accused of molesting as many as 125 children. Charges were dropped against five defendants, leaving the mother and son to face 64 counts of molestation and a shared count of conspiracy involving the alleged molestations of 11 children at their family-owned school. During a 2 1/2-year trial, some of the former students testified in detail of being molested by the Buckeys and spoke of being photographed, playing games like ``Naked Movie Star'' and watching Buckey mutilate small animals. The Buckeys were jailed through much of the case. ``I've been isolated in a nightmare,'' Buckey said after his release in February on $1.5 million bail. His mother eventually was released on $295,000 bail. ``We are all innocent and have not done one thing wrong,'' Mrs. Buckey said in May. Mrs. Buckey, 63, was director of the preschool, which closed in 1984. She became involved in the 1960s, running one of two family-owned preschools. She took charge of both several years later when her mother and school founder Virginia McMartin began having health problems. In 1976, the schools merged. Fond of loud muumuus and flashy jewelry, Mrs. Buckey was described by parents as flamboyant, almost to the point of being tactless. She surprised many parents, for instance, when she admitted that as a girl she was molested by a neighbor. She also said she kept a close eye on her son, who started working at the school in 1981 after dropping out of San Diego State University. Among his duties were watching children as they napped or checking on children who stayed awake to play during the lunch hour. Mrs. Buckey watched her son so closely that, to allay the fears of a parent worried about a man working at the school, she checked to see if he became aroused when students climbed onto his lap. She said he did not. ``I have no sexual desire for children,'' he testified in August. ``I never have and never will.'' AP-NY-01-18-90 1436EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ McMartin Defendants Not Guilty LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jurors Thursday acquitted the operators of the McMartin Pre-School of 52 counts of child molestation in the nation's longest and costliest criminal trial. The judge declared a mistrial on 13 remaining counts. Raymond Buckey, 31, and Peggy McMartin Buckey, 63, were found innocent of lewd and lascivious conduct with minors under 14. Mother and son cried as the verdicts were announced. The panel deadlocked on 12 molestation charges against Buckey and a single count of conspiracy against both defendants. Superior Court Judge William Pounders declared a mistrial on those counts. It was not immediately announced whether prosecutors would attempt another trial on those counts. The jury spent nine weeks deliberating on the 65 molestation and conspiracy charges against the pair, who were accused of molesting 11 children during a five-year period at their family owned McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach. Buckey spent nearly five years in jail without being convicted until his release on $1.5 million bail last February. ``I feel wonderful,'' said Charles Buckey, father of Raymond and husband of Mrs. Buckey. The trial has run nearly three years at a cost of $15 million. A single scream was heard in the crowded courthouse hallway when the verdicts were read. An unidentified woman wept into her hands. Friends or relatives shielded the women from TV cameras. ``They're making a big mistake,'' said Chris Collins, 18, who as a child was a student at McMartin Pre-School. Buckey and his mother were required to stand trial after an 18-month preliminary hearing during which children gave investigators accounts of satanic rites and animals tortured to frighten the youngsters into silence. Five women teachers who worked at the preschool had charges against them dismissed. Among those were Buckey's sister, Peggy Ann, and his grandmother, Virginia McMartin, who founded the once prestigious but now defunct nursery school. When Buckey and his mother finally came to trial in 1987, the focus of the prosecution had narrowed. Hundreds of counts of child molestation was pruned to 64 counts and a shared count of conspiracy. The 41 children once said to have been abused came down to 11 alleged victims. Other child molestation cases surfaced in the wake of McMartin but none received as much publicity. A jury of 12, plus six alternates, began the trial in April 1987. As months and years passed, job problems and illness took its toll, leaving the bare minimum 12 panelists needed to deliberate. The McMartin case began in August 1983 when Judy Johnson, mother of a child at the school, called Manhattan Beach police. She told the department's sex abuse and juvenile investigator that her son's bottom was red and that he had spoken of a man named Ray who worked at the school. Letters were sent alerting parents to check their children for signs of molestation. Mrs. Johnson, suffering from alcohol and mental problems, died at the age of 44 a few months before trial began in April 1987. Defense attorneys contended she was unbalanced and that the case that emerged was largely the result of her increasingly bizarre allegations. AP-NY-01-18-90 1528EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Buckey, Mom Found Innocent LOS ANGELES (AP) - Preschool operators Raymond Buckey and his mother were acquitted Thursday of 52 child molestation charges in the nation's longest and costliest criminal trial, inciting outrage among parents whose children attended the nursery school. Jurors deadlocked on 12 sex abuse counts against Buckey and a single conspiracy count against him and his 63-year-old mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey. Superior Court Judge William Pounders declared a mistrial on those counts and dismissed the deadlocked conspiracy charge against Mrs. Buckey. He set a Jan. 31 hearing to determine whether the 13 unresolved counts will be dismissed against Buckey. Announcement of the innocent verdicts brought gasps and sobs in the packed courtroom. Buckey, 31, who spent nearly five years in jail because of the charges, and his mother, who was jailed for almost two years, cried as the verdicts were read. ``I've gone through hell and now we've lost everything,'' Mrs. Buckey said outside court. ``My concern was for my son and what they've done to him ... because my son would never harm a child.'' ``I feel wonderful,'' said Charles Buckey, father of Raymond and husband of Mrs. Buckey. Raymond Buckey avoided reporters and slipped out the courthouse with his lawyer. Jurors said they didn't believe the molestation stories told by nine children who testified in the case because they had been manipulated by the suggestions of parents and therapists. ``I tried to believe the children,'' said juror Daryl Hutchins. But, he said, the children had been so ``contaminated'' by leading questions from adults that he couldn't. About an hour after the verdicts were announced, parent Jackie McGauley said: ``I'm still in shock. ... When I first heard it, I didn't believe it. I thought someone had made a mistake.'' Her child wasn't among those testifying as victims. Mary Mae Cioffi, another parent who is vocal about the case through her children didn't testify, added: ``I am really disappointed. The anger is beginning to rise. We have programs all over the country that tell children to run and tell when somebody hurts them, and our children told. Some of them spent 35 days on the stand and they get a `not guilty.' It shows that our justice system needs a revamp for kids.'' ``I know my children were molested. I had my daughter sleep between my husband and I for a whole year because she was so afraid somebody would come and get her, that they would kill her, because she told,'' she said. The investigation of alleged mass molestation at the suburban McMartin Pre-School ignited a nationwide wave of worry about child abuse when it came to light in 1983. It produced widespread fear among working parents that their children might be at risk at school. AP-NY-01-18-90 2345EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Preschool Parents Outraged LOS ANGELES (AP) - Thursday's acquittals in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case outraged parents who said prosecutors botched it, while those on the defense side proclaimed a triumph of justice over hysteria and hype. Mother-and-son defendants Peggy McMartin Buckey, 63, and Raymond Buckey, 31, wept as the verdicts were announced. Jurors found the pair innocent of 52 charges and couldn't reach a verdict on 13 other counts. Prosecutors must decide whether to try those charges in a new trial. ``I just said, `I told you Ray,''' Mrs. Buckey said. Asked if her son was surprised, she said. ``He had fear, definitely.'' Buckey avoided reporters and slipped out the courthouse with his lawyer. ``If it can happen to seven innocent people it can happen to you, too. If it had not been in my faith in God I wouldn't be here today,'' she said. But several parents of former students at the school said the Buckeys won because the system lost. ``It was never done properly,'' said parent Alan Lagunoff, who moved to Central California from suburban Manhattan Beach. ``I have to sit back and figure out what to do with my son. I fear that because of this verdict, no child will be seen as a credible witness from now on.'' His son, now 10, attended the school for 1 1/2 years but wasn't a witness at the trial. ``I don't think it's worth it to bring this thing back into the courts. It will just be another six-year travesty,'' Lagunoff said. ``The system is not going to protect children,'' said Jackie McGauley, a parent who believes her child had been molested but didn't testify in the case. ``I don't know what the message is that the jury wanted to get out. I'm anxious to hear that.'' Charles Buckey, father of Raymond and husband of Mrs. Buckey, suggested Deputy District Attorney Lael Rubin, who prosecuted the case for its entire six years, was motivated by personal ambition. ``My concern primarily was Lael Rubin, who is `anything goes' in order to secure a conviction. ... If you don't win, you don't get promoted,'' he said. Juror Brenda Williams said the evidence failed to convince the jury beyond a reasonable doubt in 52 of the charges. ``Even if you accept that the children were molested, it didn't necessarily mean they were molested at the McMartin Pre-School,'' Ms. Williams told reporters. Raymond Buckey spent nearly five years in jail without bail during the case, which defense attorneys said was the result of community hysteria sparked by bizarre allegations by the alcoholic mother of one child at the preschool. Some observers accused then-District Attorney Robert Philibosian of using the spectacular charges to boost his failing re-election campaign against Ira Reiner, who beat him and now runs the district attorney's office. Philibosian, however, insisted he would not have handled the matter differently. ``Ira Reiner has had that case for five years, and I am not going to take any public criticism directed at me. Let him respond to the criticism,'' said Philibosian, now in private law practice. AP-NY-01-19-90 0002EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Jury Denounces Experts, Police LOS ANGELES (AP) - Jurors in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case denounced the techniques of a child therapy center and a police department letter that inflamed parents and ignited the case. Seven jurors who spoke with reporters in a joint news conference after acquitting Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, on 52 molestation charges Thursday said they felt some children who testified may have been molested - but not at the family-run McMartin Pre-School. And they said some children may have merely repeated stories told them by their parents and interviewers at Children's Institute International. The private child therapy center, which specializes in abused children, videotaped interviews with children from the McMartin school after reports of molestations surfaced. Jurors saw the tapes in which interviewers used anatomically explicit puppets and leading questions to elicit descriptions of molestation from children. Asked what led to acquittals, juror Brenda Williams focused on the taped interviews from the center jurors call CII. ``The CII interviews - I could not accept them,'' Mrs. Williams said. ``I believe the children believe what they were saying was true. But at CII, I could not tell if the children were saying what was told to them (by interviewers) or if they were repeating what their parents had told them. ``If the CII tapes had not been entered into evidence and I had not seen them, I could have believed the children a little more,''' Mrs. Williams said. ``The CII tapes did not help me. They gave me a lot of reasonable doubt,'' agreed juror Julie Peters, 47, a supermarket meat wrapper. ``The children were never allowed to say in their own words what happened to them. All the questions were leading. They never had a chance to tell their stories,'' said juror John Breese, 51, a medical technician and grandfather of five. ``I tried to believe the children,'' said juror Daryl Hutchins 28, an oil company lease operator. ``But if the child was so contaminated (by the interviews) I couldn't.'' Equal criticism was aimed at a letter sent in 1983 by the Manhattan Beach Police Department to parents of McMartin school children. The letter alerted parents to a claim of molestation at the school and to Buckey's arrest. ``The police letter should never have been sent,'' said juror Sally Cordova, 27, a supermarket checker. ``It put the information out there too early. The whole city knew.'' At that point, jurors said, they felt parents had been programmed to believe their children had been molested. ``One child said his parents told him that he was molested even before he went to CII,'' Mrs. Williams recalled. The panelists said they threw out entirely the most fantastic allegations, including some children's accounts of being molested in a car wash. ``We just dismissed those,'' said Mrs. Williams. AP-NY-01-19-90 0003EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Therapist Defends Trial Method LOS ANGELES (AP) - A therapist defended her interviews of alleged victims in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial, despite criticism by several jurors who said leading questions undermined the prosecution's case. The jury on Thursday acquitted Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, of 52 child molestation counts and deadlocked on 13 other counts. Therapist Kee McFarlane later defended her work with hundreds of McMartin students, and suggested that the goals of therapy are at odds with the legal standards required for a successful criminal prosecution. ``What is in the interest of children is not always in the interest of the legal system,'' she said. Evidence introduced by prosecutors in what became the longest and most expensive criminal trial in U.S. history included videotaped interviews of the alleged victims. Many of the interviews were conducted at an early stage of the sexual abuse investigation by MacFarlane, a social worker and director of the Child Sexual Abuse Center at Children's Institute International. MacFarlane said Thursday she still believes children from the school had been molested and that they had not fabricated their accounts of abuse. ``This agency would never have gone all the way through what we have if we did not believe these children,'' she said. At least seven jurors who attended a news conference agreed the evidence showed children had been molested. But the jurors were sharply critical of the interviewers' technique at the institute. ``The children were never allowed to say in their own words what happened to them,'' said juror John Breese. ``All the questions were leading.'' ``If the CII tapes had not been entered into evidence and I had not seen them, I could have believed the children a little more,'' juror Brenda Williams said. But MacFarlane said that the interviewing techniques were sound, noting that small children must be interviewed differently than adults. ``I didn't put words into their mouths,'' she said. ``I tried to enable them to get over their fears.'' MacFarlane acknowledged that some procedures could have been done differently, including conducting more interviews over a longer period of time. She called the outcome of the case a ``tragic consequence of an attempt to prevent trauma to these children.'' But the institute's executive director, Mary M. Emmons, said some good may come out of the case. ``It has greatly increased the awareness about the issue of child sexual abuse and about the problems of prosecuting these cases,'' she said. AP-NY-01-19-90 0406EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Blame Spread In McMartin Case LOS ANGELES (AP) - There was plenty of blame to go around at the end of the lengthy and traumatic McMartin Pre-School molestation trial, but no one was willing to accept it. In the nation's longest and costliest trial, Raymond Buckley and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckley, were acquitted Thursday on 52 child molestation charges. The jury deadlocked on 13 other charges. Afterward, the district attorney who filed the case criticized the current district attorney. The current district attorney blamed his predecessor and defense attorneys. And some of the parents of children who attended the school blamed everybody. ``The system is not going to protect children,'' said Jackie McGauley, a parent who believes her child had been molested but didn't testify in the case. ``Life is not fair,'' said Robert Curry, whose son attended the McMartin school. ``I tell my children all the time ... there is no such thing as fair.'' The district attorney who originally pursued the case said he would not have done anything differently. Robert Philibosian, now in private practice, angrily dismissed accusations that he played up the McMartin case in 1984 - with the news media acting as eager accomplices - to boost his public profile as he ran for district attorney. ``I was a professional prosecutor for 16 years before this case was brought,'' he said. ``To have people who know very little about professional or prosecutorial ethics, to criticize me personally that I have some political motive is totally unjustified.'' Philibosian instead pointed the finger at the man who defeated him, current District Attorney Ira Reiner. Philibosian said Reiner hurt prosecutor's chances by dismissing charges against five of the original seven defendants and criticizing the case in a 1986 ``60 Minutes'' interview. But Reiner, calling his dismissal of charges for lack of evidence ``the decision we're proud of,'' said the trial took so long because of the state's ponderous criminal justice system, delay tactics by defense attorneys and a mess left behind by Philibosian. ``This is a case I inherited,'' Reiner said. In interviews, many jurors said they believed some of the children were molested, but the prosecution never established that the defendants were responsible. ``Even if you accept that the children were molested, it didn't necessarily mean they were molested at the McMartin Pre-School,'' said juror Brenda Williams. AP-NY-01-19-90 0505EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. ______________________________________________________________________________ Molest Defendants File Lawsuit LOS ANGELES (AP) - Peggy McMartin Buckey, acquitted in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case, said Friday she would pursue a federal civil lawsuit alleging malicious prosecution despite death threats to her family. Mrs. Buckey, addressing a packed news conference, said she at first hesitated to become involved in further litigation. ``I said to (my lawyer) `Is it worth going to court about? I'm tired of going to court. I'm tired of enduring what I've had to endure.''' But she said she felt those responsible for ruining her life should have to account for it. Mrs. Buckey and her son Raymond won acquittal of 52 felony child molestation charges. Jurors in the nation's longest and costliest criminal trial Thursday deadlocked on 12 other sex abuse counts against Buckey and a single conspiracy count against him and his 63-year-old mother. Superior Court Judge William Pounders declared a mistrial on the 12 counts and dismissed the deadlocked conspiracy charge against Mrs. Buckey. He set a Jan. 31 hearing to determine whether the 13 unresolved counts will be dismissed against Buckey. Buckey, 31, who spent nearly five years in jail before making bail, and his mother, who was jailed for almost two years, cried as they heard the verdicts. ``If it can happen to seven innocent people it can happen to you, too. If it had not been in my faith in God, I wouldn't be here today,'' Mrs. Buckey said. Buckey avoided reporters after the verdict. Initially, five other teachers, including Mrs. Buckey's mother and daughter, were charged. The trial cost about $15 million and lasted nearly three years. The lawsuit filed Friday names as defendants Los Angeles County, the city of Manhattan Beach, former District Attorney Robert Philibosian, Children's Institute International and therapist Kee McFarlane, as well as Capital Cities-ABC Inc. and its former reporter Wayne Satz. It contended that all defendants joined in a conspiracy to have the McMartin defendants indicted. The lawsuit sought general damages of $1 million and unspecified special damages. Mrs. Buckey said that after verdicts were announced Thursday, a parent of a McMartin school child approached Mrs. Buckey's husband, Charles, and threatened to kill him. She did not elaborate. She also said that children who attended the once prestigious, but now defunct, school trailed her to her car and screamed epithets at her. Some of the children's parents gasped when the verdicts were announced. ``The anger is beginning to rise,'' said Mary Mae Cioffi. ``We have programs all over the country that tell children to run and tell when somebody hurts them, and our children told. Some of them spent 35 days on the stand and they get a `not guilty.' It shows that our justice system needs a revamp for kids.'' AP-NY-01-19-90 1513EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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