Jury Deliberates McMartin Case LOS ANGELES (AP) - After more than two years of testimony,
Jury Deliberates McMartin Case
LOS ANGELES (AP) - After more than two years of testimony, jurors have began
deliberations in the McMartin preschool molestation trial dealing with the
alleged rape of children and satanic rituals.
The longest-running criminal case in U.S. history has lingered in the courts
in various stages for nearly six years and cost taxpayers more than $15
"It seems like a historic moment but I'm too tired to enjoy it," Superior
Court Judge William Pounders said Thursday after the jurors adjourned to
select a foreman and begin deliberations. "All of the jurors are present
on a day I think you may have felt would never arrive."
Jurors resumed deliberations Friday morning.
The McMartin investigation ignited a wave of hysteria about child
molestation, in Southern California and nationally. It set the standard
for widespread fear among working parents that their children might not
be safe in the private schools they picked to care for them.
During the weeks in early 1984 that allegations about abuse at the
McMartin school blossomed, a rash of reports of child molestation at
other day-care centers surfaced.
A jury of 12, plus six alternates began the trial in April 1987. Since
then, job problems and illness plagued the jury, leaving the bare dozen
panelists needed to deliberate and avoid a mistrial.
The 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.
When they were indicted in 1984, prosecutors alleged Raymond Buckey, his
mother, sister, grandmother and three other female teachers had molested
hundreds of children at the school during a five-year period.
Children gave investigators accounts of satanic rites and animals tortured
to frighten them into silence.
The Los Angeles County district attorney's office took over the investigation,
and sent nearly 400 children who had attended the school at various times to
be interviewed by counselors at Children's Institute International, an agency
for abused and neglected children.
Based on the interviews, prosecutors initially concluded that hundreds of acts
of child abuse had occurred at the school founded in 1958 by Virginia McMartin,
grandmother of Raymond Buckey and mother of Peggy McMartin Buckey.
Virginia McMartin, elderly and confined to a wheelchair, was among the seven
staff members arrested in February 1984. Charges later were dropped against
her and four other defendants because District Attorney Ira Reiner deemed
that the charges against them constituted "an incredibly weak" case.
When the case finally came to trial, the focus of the prosecution had
narrowed. What had originally been hundreds of counts of child molestation
was pruned to 64 counts and a shared count of conspiracy between Raymond
Buckey and his mother.
(C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank