McMARTIN et al: Daily Mail online - News report -
135,721. Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials reveals 1983 scandal when SEVEN preschool teachers were indicted for child molestation sparking panic – but none were convicted after $15M, seven-year trial amid claims of witchcraft, satanism and coerced testimonies.
Oxygen’s two-hour special, Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials will air on Saturday July 27, at 7pm ET/PT
The program will seek to shed new light on one the US’ most expensive and heavily contested criminal cases of all time, the McMartin Preschool scandal.
Mother-of-two Judy Johnson claimed that one of the school’s teachers, Ray Buckley, had sodomized her two-year-old son.
Johnson’s accusations would later go on to spur a moral panic, with more than 360 children coming forward making claims of sexual abuse.
Claims of satanic worship were also made, along with rumors of secret tunnels beneath the school; orgies at carwashes and carparks; and secret abuse rooms.
Seven teachers were charged and two of them stood trial for heinous crimes, ensuing in a seven-year trial that cost $15 million – the most expensive ever.
The new program will seek to show how the claims were unsupported and how many people believed the children's testimonies were coerced.
A new documentary film will seek to shed fresh light on America’s most expensive criminal case of all time, The McMartin family trials, which rocked a small California community to its core more than three decades ago.
In Manhattan Beach during the 1980s, The McMartin Preschool, which had been founded by matriarch Virginia Martin, was one of the most sought after schools in the district.
Such was the demand for places at the school that officials were forced to put applicants on a waiting list.
However, the McMartin’s reverie came to a shattering halt in the summer of 1983, when mother-of-two Judy Johnson claimed that her two-year-old son had been sodomized by teacher Ray Buckey at the school.
‘My 2-year-old son has been molested at the McMartin Preschool,’ explained Johnson in an audio tape airing on the documentary special Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials, premiering Saturday, July 27 at 7/6c on Oxygen.
Johnson’s accusations would later go on to spur a media hysteria, with more than 360 children coming forward making claims of sexual abuse – giving birth to one of the most infamous criminal trials in American history.
As its name would suggest, the McMartin Preschool was run by several members of the McMartin family, including founder Virginia, her daughter, Peggy McMartin Buckey, and her grandchildren Raymond ‘Ray’ Buckey and Peggy Ann Buckey …
Due to a lack of evidence he was released the same day. But his freedom was met with a letter from Johnson, addressed to the district attorney, claiming her son had taken part in satanic ritual practices at the school.
Written at the height of America’s ‘Satanic Panic’, Johnson’s letter went on to claim that her son had been taken to a secret church where ‘Ray flew in the air’ and ‘Peggy drilled a child under the arm’.
Johnson also claimed that her son admitted two other children in his class had also been abused by Buckey, as well as a number of people at the daycare enjoying sexual relations with animals.
As a result, the local PD sent a letter to around 200 parents of students at McMartin, stating that they were investigating claims of sexual abuse and asked parents to question their children …
In the letter’s wake, outrage swept through the local community and spilled out across the rest of the country. Town Hall meetings were held. Panic-stricken parents vented to authorities. Rumors of secret tunnels beneath the school; unauthorized field trips away; orgies at carwashes and carparks; and the existence of secret abuse rooms flourished.
By spring 1984, more than 360 children claimed to have been abused at the school and a moral panic took hold.
The majority of those children had been interviewed by Children’s Institute International, a LA-based abuse therapy clinic run by Kee MacFarlane.
The claims later indicted seven employees of the McMartin Preschool on March 22, including members of the McMartin family, along with employees Mary Ann Jackson, Babette Spitler and Betty Raidor.
As a collective, the cohort were first charged with 115 counts of molestation, which rose to 321 charges soon after, involving 48 different children.
After a 20-month preliminary hearing, charges were dropped against Virginia, Peggy Ann, Jackson, Spitler, and Raidor, with prosecutors determining there was insufficient evidence to take the case to trial.
One prosecutor branded the purported evidence ‘incredibly weak’. However, 65 counts of molestation remained against Buckey and Peggy McMartin …
By 1990, after three years of testimony and nine weeks of jury deliberation, Peggy McMartin was acquitted on all counts.
Meanwhile, Buckey was cleared of 52 of 65 counts and was finally released on bail after more than five years in prison.
Buckey was re-tried on the remaining 13 counts, but once again the jury remained deadlocked and a mistrial was declared. He was later cleared of all counts.
Johnson, the woman responsible for the first allegation, would never appear or speak at the hearing. An alcoholic and schizophrenic, she was found dead in her apartment on December 19, 1986 from a ‘metamorphosis of the liver’.
Her mental stability and the subsequent impact it may have had on her perceptions remained a central theme throughout much of the seven year probe which cost the government around $15 million, becoming the longest and most expensive legal case of all time. Daily Mail online article 26 July 2019
135,722. McMartin case: Seven people including a 76 grandmother were arraigned on hundreds of counts of molesting children at a Manhattan nursery school. News report