Jury Deliberates McMartin Case LOS ANGELES (AP) - After more than two years of testimony,

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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 million. "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. AP-NY-11-03-89 1351EST (C) Copyright 1989, Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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