McMartin Preschool Case – What Really Happened and the Coverup
McMartin Preschool Case – What Really Happened and the Coverup
1) McMartin Preschool Revisited
2) Ray Buckey’s Press Corps and the Tunnels of McMartin
3) Cult and Ritual Abuse – It’s History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America – Indictment movie
4) Chronology of the McMartin Preschool Abuse Trials
5) Archaeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site
6) Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children – Eberle’s
7) Denying ritual abuse of children
8) Interview of Jackie MacGauley
9) The Dark Tunnels of McMartin
10) Investigative Issues in Ritual Abuse Cases
11) Paul and Shirley Eberle: A Strange Pair of Experts
12) Additional articles
McMartin Preschool Revisited by Alex Constantine 1996 (in Virtual Government – CIA Mind Control Operations in America – Alex Constantine (Feral House Pub. 1997 ISBN 0-922915-45-8)
Welcome to Manhattan Beach
Paul Bynum graduated from college in 1972 and joined the Hermosa Beach police department a year later. At 31 he was promoted to the rank of chief detective. Bynum was not a traditional investigator. One fellow detective often thought he was “too bright to be a cop.” Off duty, he drove an MG and mixed with the ’60s survivors at the Sweetwater Café.
In 1976 Bynum was assigned the investigation of the Karen Klaas murder. Klaas was the divorced wife of Bill Medley, a vocalist for the Righteous Brothers. She was raped and murdered one morning about an hour after dropping her five-year-old son off at the McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach.
Neighbors told police they’d been alarmed at the sight of a menacing stranger before the murder wandering through the neighborhood. Police later entertained speculation that Klaas had been stalked. Throughout the week her body was found, this same stranger had popped up several times on her corner. A neighbor phoned Karen to warn her. She didn’t answer. When friends entered the back door of the house, concerned for her safety, they found a Caucasian male with a beard, about 5’7″, 28 years old, dressed in a long olive green coat with a tunic collar and boots. He was leaving through the front door. Klaas was found naked and unconscious. She died five days later. Nothing was stolen. Police had no indication that Klaas knew the man who assaulted her.
In 1984, shortly after indictments were handed to defendants in the McMartin child molestation case, Gerald Klaas, her husband, drove off a cliff in Oregon and was killed. Children alleged in a grand jury hearing that teachers at the preschool had threatened to kill family members if they talked about abuse, It was rumored around town that the Klaas deaths and the McMartin case may have been related. But police said no. “We have no leads, no suspects and we’re not coordinating with Manhattan Beach,” Hermosa Beach Lt. Mike Lavin told reporters.1
In 1979, Paul Bynum was forced out of the police department without an explanation despite an unblemished record. After Bynum had wrapped up an investigation of a series of murders of teenage girls in nearby Redondo Beach, culminating in the arrest and conviction of serial killers Roy Norris and Lawrence Bittaker, police chief Frank Beeson pressured Bynum to take a stress leave. Bynum was haunted by the serial murder investigation, but remained confident in his emotional stability. He refused the leave. The chief obtained an order from the city manager, and Bynum was forced out on an indefinite disability leave. He chalked it up to internal politics, “paranoia.” “When the papers reported that Beeson had shown up apparently drunk at his first Hermosa council meeting and dropped his revolver on the floor,” Bynum told reporter Kevin Cody, “he thought we had tipped reporters.” Beeson was unaware that reporters routinely attended meetings of the city council.2
Bynum set out on a new career as a private investigator. In March 1984, he was retained by the Buckeys’ defense attorney, Danny Davis, and in the course of his investigation came to the conclusion that children had been abused at the preschool. He found the video-taped interviews of the children by child therapists “credible.” One afternoon, Cody informed Bynum that hundreds of children had alleged molestation took place at the preschool. Bynum was shocked. He stammered he had no idea so many children were involved.
In 1986 he was called to testify at the trial of Ray Buckey by prosecutor Lael Rubin. The morning he was to appear a juror’s home was burglarized and Bynum’s testimony was rescheduled for the next morning. “Neither side is going to like what I have to say,” he told Cody. For one thing, there was the matter of Bynum’s lost citation books, records he’d kept while a detective in Hermosa Beach. When the police arrested Ray Buckey on molestation charges, the “lost” books were discovered on the preschool attendant’s desk. What were official police records doing in Buckey’s home? And Prosecutor Rubin had intended to ask Bynum about a map turned up by DA investigators in March 1986, pin-pointing the location of turtle shells Bynum had unearthed at the lot next to the McMartin preschool. (The children claimed teachers had killed turtles to demonstrate what would happen to them and their families if they talked about the molestations. Bynum, while retained by the defense, had managed to corroborate a key point in the testimony of the children.)
Bynum’s court appearance was preempted by “suicide,” although the timing left some parents in the case convinced he’d been murdered.3 His body was discovered by his wife at 5:45 in the morning. He died of a head shot from a .38 caliber pistol. “None of the half dozen people questioned who were close to Bynum could think of any reason why his involvement in the case might have driven him to suicide,” reported the Easy Reader in Manhattan Beach. “Paul was kind of a worrier,” said Stephen Kay, a deputy district attorney and friend of the Bynum family, “but there was no hint of suicide. He was very upbeat about his wife and new daughter, both of whom he adored.”4
The belief that Bynum had been murdered was fueled by the memory of another odd death, the alcohol toxicity that claimed the life of Judy Johnson. She was the first mother to speak publicly about child molestation at McMartin. and sympathizers of the Buckeys in the press have gone to great lengths to portray Johnson as “crazy.” Her life was inverted the day her son came home from the McMartin school, bleeding. Strangers entered her life, intimidated her. She believed she’d been poisoned. (In 1992, therapists at the L.A. Commission for Women’s Ritual Abuse Task Force were also poisoned, and corroborated their allegations with medical reports – the Los Angeles Times was given the reports, but ignored them and alleged the therapists were paranoid fantasists.5) She lived in fear, felt it necessary to keep a gun in the house. Her estranged husband appeared to have joined in the harassment campaign. She took to alcohol. She was allergic to alcohol. It poisoned her.
The death of Judy Johnson was met with howls of laughter in greater Los Angeles. She will be remembered as the delusional paranoiac who set in motion a wave of “hysteria” carried through Southern California by a sensational press and out across the plains, contaminating lives and decimating families everywhere. A groundless witch-hunt. This was the explanation doled out by “experts” from leading universities. Nevertheless, children who attended the preschool still insist they were abused. And the detailed memories of their parents are sharply at odds with the simple caricature of the case repeated endlessly in the press. They recall not suggestive questioning, but the long hours of testimony by dozens of children, the telephoned death threats, how some of the children suffered deep emotional problems requiring hospitalization. Knowing child pornography to be a highly lucrative business, they frown at the snickering over the childrens’ disclosures that they were forced to play “naked movie-star” games. They haven’t put aside as anomalous accident the first exhibit in the case, a physician’s report that one of the children suffered “blunt force trauma” of sexual areas.6 The parents were left to ponder why some of the toddlers in the care of the McMartins had chlamydia, a sexually-transmitted infection.7 Where was the humor in all of this?
The parents wondered, like everyone else, at the incredibility of the charges – some said the children were lying – yet they had to question Peggy McMartin’s testimony that she only worked at the school for a short time, when payroll records showed that she had been employed there for years. To the families, the final verdict of Ray Buckey meant it was now “open season on children.”
The world was told redundantly that ABC’s Wayne Satz, the reporter who broke the case (killed by a heart attack in December, 1992 at age 47), and Kee MacFarlane, a therapist testifying for the prosecution, had an affair, as if this had any bearing on the allegations of the children. Even Oliver Stone, perhaps in ignorance, took to the bandwagon with a film made for HBO, written by Abby Mann, theorizing that hysteria in Manhattan Beach was kindled when one child returned home from school one afternoon with “a red bottom” – this would be the son of Judy Johnson, and he hadn’t been spanked – he was bleeding from the anus.
This hardly constitutes media “spin.” It is conscious participation in a felony. The account of the case pounded into collective memory by media repetition goes that far to distort the facts. The widespread media coverage was, according to Los Angeles Times editor Noel Greenwood, “a mean-spirited campaign” organized to discredit the children and their therapists.8 But why should certain members of the corporate press, and segments of the legal and psychiatric professions, go to such lengths to suppress evidence of organized child abuse at McMartin?
The traumatic crimes reported by the toddlers bear an uncanny resemblance to mind control programming, a specialty of certain classified federal agencies and cult cut-outs on the black budget payroll.8 The children are often ridiculed because some of their charges are impossible. Tunnels under the preschool? Too ludicrous to consider. But as it happens, there were tunnels, confirmed in 1993 by a team of five scientists from leading universities.
The unearthing of the tunnels, like much of the critical evidence, never made it to the courtroom. They have been discreetly excluded from newspaper accounts. Filling the void, Debbie Nathan, a widely published skeptic of ritual abuse, heaped ridicule on the tunnel allegations in the Village Voice in June 1990. She maintained the McMartin site had already been “painstakingly probed for tunnels. None were found”9 Nathan’s account is a fabrication. In fact, recalls Dr. Roland Summit, who contributed to the final report on the tunnel excavation, parents started digging and prosecutors, reluctantly forced to a showdown, “commissioned a superficial search of open terrain.” District Attorney Ira Reiner then declared the tunnel stories unfounded “without going under the concrete floor of the preschool.”Once the tunnels were officially discounted, attempts to explore for an underground reality were instant targets for ridicule.”10 Archeologist Gary Stickel was retained to lead the excavation on the re-commendation of Dr. Rainier Berger, chairman of UCLA’s Interdisciplinary Archeology Program, by parents of McMartin children.11 Initially Stickel sided with the Buckeys, believing the abuse allegations to be so much moonlight for hysterics. However, he’d heard of late homicide detective Paul Bynum, the first to dig at the site: Bynum apparently conducted his informal digging in February, 1984 (Daily Breeze, 1987). It is significant to note he did unearth some buried animal remains, “numerous pieces of tortoise shells and bones” (Daily Breeze, 1987). “There was keen interest at the time since it was reported that the children testified that tortoises, rabbits, and other small animals were mutilated to terrorize the children into keeping silent” (Daily Breeze, 1987).12
But “experts” courted by the press snaffled at the suggestion that animals were killed to frighten children at McMartin and other preschools around the country. It was not until 1993 that a study by the National Center for Child Abuse and Neglect confirmed that children are not only threatened in day care settings, “most threats are very specific in terms of what the consequence of disclosure will be and how the threat will be carried out…. The use of such severe threats is obviously quite frightening to young children and is effective in preventing disclosure. In fact, it appears that threats used in day care center cases may go beyond what is usually needed to silence victims, and may in some instances be made for purposes of psychological terror in and of itself.”13
Into the Grotto
Most reporters in Southern California pooh-poohed evidence of coercion, but there was a great, gaping silence when the tunnels were found. “I asked my daughter,” recalls Jackie MacGauley, a mother of two children who attended the preschool, “‘How could they have taken you to these places without being seen?’ And she answered me as though I was silly to ask such a question. She said, ‘Through the tunnels, of course.'”
The Los Angeles Times ran a spate of features poking fun of the excavation team until actual evidence of tunnels was discovered. Then the Times ran a brief news item, one paragraph long, dryly noting that “evidence” of tunnels had been found, and never mentioned the subject again. The local Beach Reporter covered the story without a blush: “parents began to dig with shovels, allegedly in an area pointed out by a nine-year-old former student of the McMartin preschool, who told them to dig behind a cement planter in the northeast corner. When parents unearthed several broken turtle shells and a few bones, they stopped digging and notified the district attorney’s office.”
Once the entrance was exposed, Stickel used remote sensing equipment to read the terrain conductivity of the empty lot next to the preschool. The survey was conducted by a respected geophysicist, Robert Beer, working with an electromagnetic scanner. The tunnel opening was found precisely where children said it would be. Stickel: “Some of the children had stated there had been animal cages placed along that wall and that they had entered a tunnel under the cages.” A foreign soil deposit was found near the foundation. Clearing the anomaly with a backhoe, they found the roots of an avocado tree cut to clear a path for the tunnel. The roots had been cut with a hand saw and torn away, and shreds dangled on either wall of the tunnel.
That’s the moment editors at the Times chose to pull reporters off the story. All other news outlets rapidly followed suit. But the excavators cleared the foreign soil and followed the tunnel anyway. It “meandered under Classroom No. 4 and then most of Classroom No. 3…. There is no other scenario that fits all of the facts except that the feature was indeed a tunnel,” they concluded. “The date of the construction and use of the tunnel was not absolutely established, but an assessment of seven factors of data all indicate that it was probably constructed, used and completely filled back in sometime after 1966 (the construction date of the preschool).”14
Dr. E. Michael, a specialist in forensic geology in Malibu, was called to examine a cavity in the underground passage. Together with Dr. Herbert Adams of the geology department at Cal State University, a ground resistivity reading of the tunnel was followed from the preschool to a triplex next door, a traversing section parallel to the north wall of the school, 5 feet away, extending 20 feet eastward, 10 to 15 feet beneath the surface.15
Gerald Hobbs, a local tree surgeon for 25 years, did much of the actual digging. Hobbs: The children had told two different stories about this tunnel prior to the dig. One, that they had gone through the tunnel and came up in the house next door, and two, they had come up in the garage, which blocked the house from the street. At any rate, the tunnel went in that direction…. That evening I went to the house next door and followed the walk between the school and the house, only about 41/2 feet apart. I went about 30 feet down between the buildings and found a crawl space under the house. I bellied my way toward the southwest corner of the house. After going about 20 feet, I found an area inside the west wall of the house where the floor was cut out. If I remember correctly, the area of floor that was missing was 36″ X 38″ X 41”.16
A total of 77 animal bones were found buried at the McMartin site, an assortment of the osteo-remains of domestic cattle, chickens, dogs and a single rabbit.17 However, Debbie Nathan, the hide-bound “skeptic” of ritual abuse, a scion of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, told another story. The McMartin site, she insisted, had already been “painstakingly probed for tunnels” by the D.A.’s office. (Not so, as we’ve seen). “None were found. [The McMartin] parents have invested years believing in demonic conspiracies and underground nursery tunnels. (Until recently the parents were still digging. They came up with Indian artifacts).” No mention of Bynum’s independent findings. No mention of the dig as it happened in the real world. She reserves much of her scorn for former FBI agent Ted Gunderson and Jackie MacGauley. Nathan seems not to realize that Gunderson and MacGauley brought in Stickel and his geological team to defuse accusations they were directly engaged in the dig. They weren’t. The search for the tunnels was independent, and scores of volunteers pitched in.
Nathan’s refrain of “no evidence” is hollow. She has been known to contort around the facts of ritual abuse in a grotesque parody of journalism and is frequently blind to critical evidence. Nathan continues to find “no evidence” of abuse at McMartin despite the nightmares, the acting-out, medical molestation reports and sexual infections. The tunnel excavation, she assures with psychic certainty (and a sniff of condescension), is a “hoax.”
To come to the point: Nathan’s propaganda, repeated in the New York Times and a host of other corporate publications, happened to conceal a classified mind control operation the CIA and Pentagon had undertaken thirty years before….
End of Part One
– Notes –
1. Kevin Cody, “Former HB Officer’s Suicide Adds Questions to McMartin Mystery,” Easy Reader (Manhattan Beach tabloid news weekly), November 17, 1987.
3. The Easy Reader obituary declares, “none of the half dozen people questioned who were close to Bynum could think of any reason why his involvement in the case might have driven him to commit suicide. But the timing of Bynum’s death and the controversy already surrounding the McMartin case … inevitably spawned speculation that a link existed between his suicide and his pending testimony.”
5. The medical reports were reprinted in Alex Contantine, Psychic dictatorship in the U.S.A. Portland: Feral House, 1995, pp. 97-111.
6. McMartin trial record, evidentiary exhibit one.
7. Interviews with parents.
8. Alex Constantine, “Ray Buckey’s Press Corps and the Tunnels of Mc-Martin,” pp. 77-96.
9. Debbie Nathan, “What McMartin Started: The Ritual Abuse Hoax,” Village Voice, June 12, 1990.
10. Roland Summit, M.D., “Introduction,” Archeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site, Manhattan Beach, California, unpublished report by archeologist Gary Stickel of the McMartin Tunnel Project, 1993, p. ii.
11. Gary Stickel, foreword to Archeological Investigations.
13. Kelly, Brant and Waterman, “Sexual Abuse of Children in Day Care Centers,” Journal of Child Abuse & Neglect (17), 1993, p. 74
14. Stickel, Archeological Investigations, p. 95. The assessment of the tunnel’s age was corroborated by Dr. Jon Michael, a geologist on the McMartin project.
15. Dr. E. Michael, in a letter to Dr. Gary Stickel, July 2, 1992, pp. 2-3.
16. Gerald Hobbs, “Notes on Investigation of the Neighboring Tri-plex,”in Archeological Investigations,” p. 176.
17. Charles Schwartz, Ph.D., “The McMartin Preschool Osteological Remains” (2nd report), Archeological Investigations, June 15, 1990, p. 1.
Ray Buckey’s Press Corps and the Tunnels of McMartin – From: Psychic Dictatorship in the USA, Alex Constantine (Feral House, 1995).
A fusillade of press reports, OpEd Columns and television documentaries have dismissed the McMartin case as a “witch hunt” born of mass hysteria, coercive therapy, false memories and greed. Yet all seven jurors attending a press conference after the second trial raised heir hands when asked who among them believed children had been abused at the preschool. So why the call to public denial from the press?
After the initial flurry of press coverage of the McMartin Preschool molestation case, a number of sympathetic reporters and psychiatrists publicly exonerated Ray Buckey and his co-defendants. This observer’s gallery of “skeptics” also deny that ritual abuse is a social problem. The argument consistently leads to the lament that the McMartin allegations were incited by mass hysteria, an ambitious district attorney and an incompetent child therapist. The hysteria thesis, promoted by a small group of pedophile defense psychologists, mostly, has appeared in publications of stature including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Harper’s, New Yorker, Newsweek,. The McMartin case was the subject of an Oliver Stone cable feature.
Media boosters of the defense neglect to acknowledge the most damning evidence in the McMartin case. Instead, they explain away superficial, carefully-sifted pieces of the case. In preparation for the trial, 389 toddlers were interviewed – nearly all of them described abuse at the preschool, and do to this day. Some 80 percent had physical symptoms, including blunt force trauma of sexual areas, scarring, rectal bleeding and sexual diseases. Interestingly enough, skeptics of ritual abuse in the public print often have dubious bona fides themselves. Some even participate secretly in the pedophile and occult undergrounds, most notably a couple of Los Angeles writers who have written the only two book available on McMartin, taking mental health professionals, police, the press and prosecutors to task for pursuing false allegations of abuse.
The Politics of Child Abuse, by Paul and Shirley Eberle, purports to be something of a definitive investigation. A blurb for the book exults: “This has got to be one of the most devastating political detective stories of all time. The authors smashed open the child abuse witch-hunt so everyone can see it for what it is – the way it really happened, and why. Here is the amazing story, starting with the first spectacular accusations, the marathon pre-trial hearing, the endless series of false accusations.” Since the Eberles’ first McMartin book appeared in 19896, the Eberles have achieved national status as child abuse experts. In courts of law their work is frequently cited, and they lecture widely to receptive audiences.
The Eberles once appeared as featured speakers at a conference held by Victims of Child Abuse Laws (VOCAL), an organization that feted The politics of child Abuse as positively revelatory. But Paul and shirley Eberle can hardly be considered credible reporters. Blurbs in their own pornographic tabloid, L.A. Star, failed to mention that in the 1970s the authors once ran an underground tabloid for pedophiles in Los Angeles, Finger, which delved heavily into sadomasochistic sex, sex with children and sex acts involving human excrement. Finger contained sexual drawings by children and pedophile erotica, including “My First Rape,” “She was Only Thirteen,” “Sexpot at Five,” and “What Happens when Niggers Adopt White Children.” One issue featured a cover photo of two naked adults reclining amid a pile of inflated dolls. A letter to Finger declaimed: “I’m a pedophile and I think it’s great a man is having sex with his daughter…. Would like to see pics of nude girls making it with their daddy, but realize its too risky to print.”
The book’s publisher, Carole Stuart of Lyle Stuart & Co., told Ms. magazine that the Eberles have been “friends of the family for years.” In The Politics of Child Abuse, the Eberles claimed that since the McMartin arrests, “we have been barraged with hundreds of sexual abuse cases, in which many people have been sent to prison for staggeringly long terms on little or no evidence.” That the Eberles themselves remain at large would seem to contradict the notion that child abuse laws are stringently over-enforced. The Eberles attempt to portray every abuser as a victim of the justice system: We believe that every molestation case in which there has been a conviction should be reopened and reviewed. There is convincing evidence that innocent people have been imprisoned, that naive juries and judges were unable to believe the defendants would be brought to trial if no crime had occurred, and defense attorneys have not been allowed to bring all the pertinent facts before the public.
Los Angeles attorney Sally Dichter, in a book review, argued that the Eberles have “nothing to offer to any discipline.” The book she lamented, “is an attempt to vindicate every individual who has been convicted of child abuse.” Considering their credentials as child pornographers, of course the Eberles, as Dichter discovered, believe “every molestation case in which there has been a conviction should be reopened and reviewed.” Dichter found this point of view unbelievable: “The Eberles seem intent on convincing the reader that child abuse never occurs.” The authors “skepticism” of ritual child abuse is shared by Gerald Larue, professor emeritus of Biblical history and archeology at the University of Southern California. Larue is one of the principals behind the Noah’s Ark hoax, which culminated in February 1993 with a two-hour CBS prime-time special, “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark, billed by CBS as a documentary. Scholars immediately denounced it. The network refused to retract.
Satanism in America, a book that Larue co-wrote, attributed the McMartin case to a “satanic panic” incited by wild-eyed “religious fanatics, opportunists and emotionally unstable survivors whose stories simply are not to be believed” —- an agonizing irony given Larue’s instigation of the Noah’s Ark hoax. He argues that the “child abuse hysteria sweeping the country us being fueled by people for whom facts have no meaning. They invent ‘facts.'”
Langley Connections and the Rise of the Child Abuse Backlash
Another “expert” who has dismissed McMartin as a classic witch-hunt is Dr. Douglas Besherov, once the director of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. He is also a directory of the rabidly right-wing American Enterprise Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank To supplement his weighty credentials, Besherov writes for academic social and political quarterlies with long histories of collaborating with the CIA for propaganda purposes. He is a coeval of Irving Kristol, a veteran CIA psychological warfare specialist. In 1976, the Congressional Church committee hearings revealed that the CIA is deeply entrenched in the American press. Some 400 journalists, it emerged at the hearings, had collaborated with the Agency at least once. CIA propagandists like Besherov and Kristol provide others in the field with a scholastic support base, and mold opinion on campus. with such CIA-anchored academic journals as Encounter and The Public Interest, both edited by neo-con Kristol. In 1986, Public Interest published a monograph by Dr. Besherov entitled “Unfounded Allegations – A New Child Abuse Problem.” Besherov opens with the observation of legal scholar Sanford Katz that “the maltreatment of children is as old as recorded history. Infanticide, ritual sacrifice, exposure, mutilation, abandonment, brutal discipline and the near slavery of child labor have existed in all cultures.”
Dr. Besherov, left dry-eyed by such conditions, blamed the media and mandatory reporting laws for dragging child abuse out of the closet (where he seems to prefer it) and blowing the severity of the problem out of proportion. Besherov’s influential follow-up article, “Doing Something About Child Abuse: The Need to Narrow the Grounds for State Intervention,” was published in 1985 by Irving Kristol and the American Enterprise Institute. In it, Besherov argues that most allegations of child abuse are statistically unfounded. His slipshod use of statistics drove the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) to publicly find him responsible for leading the public “to believe that child abuse is leveling off or that, as reports increase, the level of substantiation decreases.” The CWLA notes that its survey results indicate a “substantial increase in reports,” and “a stable rate of confirmation,” directly contradicting Besherov’s statistical red herring. Turning to the children removed from their homes by social workers, Besherov states flatly: “According to data collected by the federal government, it appears that up to half of these children were in no immediate danger at home and could have been safely left there.”
The government “data” cited by Besherov derives from a study conducted by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. The authors of the study told New York Times reporter David Hechler that “the information is not there” to support Besherov’s assertion that half of all abused children left in the custody of their parents are in “no immediate danger.” “He has used our statistics in this case to prove a point when (he) simply can’t do it,” a Center researcher told Hechler. When asked for his response, the AEI scholar refused to comment. By fabricating statistics, Besherov reveals himself to be a propagandist. Have unfounded allegations led to a national McCarthyite frenzy, as Besherov contends? “I’m sure there are false allegations,,” concedes David Finkelhor, a sociologist specializing in child abuse. “I’m sure when people are caught up in false allegations it’s terrible.” But in criminal cases of all kinds, “there’s always the possibility of false allegations, and I don’t think they’re more severe in the area of child abuse that they are in — I want to say something innocuous – people making false allegations about having had money stolen from them, or false allegations of embezzlement.” Besherov’s work has given rise to such hysteria-producing diatribes as “False Accusations of Child Abuse: Could it Happen to You.” (Women’s Day, July 8, 1986), and “Invasion of the Child Savers: No One is Safe in the War Against Abuse” (Progressive, September, 1985) – both are adventures in hyperbole, like Besherov’s cooked statistics.
“Family abuse,” by A.C. Carlson, another protégé of Irving Kristol. appeared in Reason magazine, a publication that has frequently runs CIA disinformation. Hechler writes that Carlson has gone “even further than Besherov, inflating the unfounded rate beyond belief.” Erroneously, in fact, Carlson laments that “the victims pile up,” like corpses in a pile, and commiserates needlessly with “the sky-rocketing number of parents and teachers falsely accused of child abuse.”
Ritual abuse “skeptics” with CIA connections are covering up the latest phase in Agency-sponsored mind control experimentation. For thirty years Agency scientists have collaborated with cults (many of them founded by the government) to conceal the development of mind control technology. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple was one product of the alliance. McMartin was another. Both episodes have been buried in disinformation. The campaign to mislead the public about ritual abuse is ambitious, rivaling the campaign to conceal the facts in the murder of John F. Kennedy. The smokescreen is also explained in part by reports implicating the CIA in child prostitution for the purposes of political blackmail – a variation on the age-old sex trap. CIA agents have been directly involved in organized child sex rings. In Enslaved (1991), an investigation of the worldwide slavery underground, Gordon Thomas found Agency participation in the kidnap of Latin American children “flown across the border in light aircraft, and sold to child sex rings, or sold so their organs could be used in transplants.” Some of the pilots, Thomas discovered, “made two or three flights a day. The more experienced used Beech 18s because of the aircraft’s capacity and maneuverability. The majority of the fliers were mercenaries who had flown for the CIA.”
Ray Buckey’s father, Charles, worked for Hughes Aircraft. There is an old adage that holds “Hughes is the CIA.” Charles Buckey built the McMartin Preschool. According to carbon dating readings, the tunnels unearthed beneath the preschool were dug in 1968 – the year the school was built. Buckey Sr. testified on the stand that there were no tunnels. The media has been completely silent on this score, which brings us to…
The Tunnel Cover-Up
El Paso reporter Debbie Nathan, utterly convinced of the defendants’ innocence, entered the fray in The Village Voice, and has appeared in newspapers across the country, including The L.A. Weekly, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. She has been honored with the Free Press Association’s H. L. Mencken Award, and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism prize. She is a leading proponent of the “mass hysteria” thesis, the notion that many child abuse allegations are “unfounded.” Her cavalier dismissal is not supported by objective research. Dr. David Chadwick of San Diego’s childrens’ Hospital, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 26, 1989), contends that 8 percent of all abuse allegations are unfounded, at most, and are “rather easily distinguishable in a careful review.”
At times it is difficult to tell whether Nathan is a “skeptic” or an apologist of sexual abuse. “Most pedophilia,” she contends, “consists of caressing and fondling. for most children, these experiences appear to be at best confusing, at worst traumatic. But others seem to willingly participate, and some adults recall that while still legally minors they accepted, even welcomed, sex with grown-ups.” Nathan doesn’t condemn the abuser. After all, “compared to the abuses of a child protection movement gone mad, could incest be any worse?”
Alex Cockburn is a Nathan supporter, and has on occasion gotten caught up in her pro-pedophilic obfuscations, as in this diatribe from The Nation for March 8, 1993: As a Miami-based anthropologist, Rafael Martinez, consultant to the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office, told Nathan, in traditional Latin American cultures “kissing and hugging is common with children up to three or four years old. It is common for females to kiss children all over the place – including on the genitals.
The practice of kissing children on the genitals may be traditional in some cultures, but it is frowned upon by the Manhattan Beach preschool licensing board. Alex Cockburn’s skepticism toward ritual abuse was summed up in an editorial appearing in the February 8, 1990 Wall Street Journal, “The McMartin Case: Indict the Children, Jail the Parents.” The son of a British spy, and a loquacious defender of the Warren Commission, Cockburn has such strong feelings about the McMartin case that he once publicly maligned an editor of the L.A. Weekly for refusing to print a recommendation that “the tots bearing false witness in the McMartin preschool case be jailed for perjury.”
His primary source on the subject of child abuse, Debbie Nathan, is herself something of a false witness. In ‘What McMartin Started: The Ritual Abuse Hoax” (Village Voice, June 12, 1990), Ms. Nathan moaned that “children at McMartin told of being molested in tunnels under the school. None were ever found, but until recently parents were still digging.” In fact, 30 days before Nathan’s article appeared, the tunnels were discovered beneath the preschool by scientists hired by the parents, confirming the testimony of the children. The project employed a team of archeologists from local universities, two geologists, a professional excavator, a carbon-dating specialist and a professional photographer to document the dig’s progress and findings. The longest tunnel was six feet beneath the preschool, running eastward 45 feet from the southwest wall, and ten feet along the north wall. The tunnel walls were held in place by support beams and a roof of plywood and tarpaper. A branch of the tunnel led to a nine-foot chamber (the “secret room” described by the children?). Another extended from the preschool to the triplex next door, surfacing beneath a roll-away bathtub. Forensic tests on thousands of objects found at the site – including two hundred animal bones – were conducted.
Until the tunnels were found, the L.A. Times covered the dig – with a smirk. The parents and scientists involved were portrayed as crack-pots – until the existence of the tunnels were substantiated by experts, at which time the newspaper abruptly stopped reporting the story. the public was left with the false impression that the search had failed. Critics of the excavation pointed out that District Attorney Ira Reiner had already searched for tunnels. At best, this is a half-truth. Reiner’s team tore up a bit of floor tile, but did not even bother to remove the glue that held it in place. The D.A.’s team, as it happens, dug up the lot next to the preschool, not underneath. “Actually,” McMartin mother Jackie MacGauley, who supervised the excavation, notes, “we were the first to dig on the property.” The search for the tunnels was undertaken with ground-penetrating radar to probe for inconsistencies in the soil. A bell-shaped area of disturbed earth was discovered along the foundation of the west wall. The tunnels beneath the opposite wall was unearthed (precisely where the children said it would be found all along) beneath the foundation. A [passage had been knocked through the concrete. “It was interesting,” MacGauley told L.A.’s Pacifica Radio, “because a lot of the child development specialists, psychiatrists and therapists across the country thought that it was some psychological phenomenon that the kids would talk about tunnels. Somehow that idea got ‘planted,’ and they had all these theories as to why all the kids would talk about something like this. It obviously couldn’t be true. And the district attorney at the time just flatly did not believe it, and really didn’t want to look.” Neither did the press.
A Cottage Industry of Child Abuse Debunkers
“MODERN WITCH-HUNT – CHILD ABUSE CHARGES” bawled a Wall Street Journal editorial for February 22, 1993. But the tone of the column was dry and high-toned. Dr. Richard Gardner, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, cautioned that “a great wave of hysteria” had gripped the country. In the early 90s, the mass hysteria premise was touted by big city newspapers and magazines of elite stature, all attempting to persuade – with evident bias and inflated “expert” opinion – that false child abuse charges were endemic. This school of disinformation coaxed public opinion with dire exhortations of a child abuse witch-hunt. In his Wall Street Journal comments, Dr. Gardner warned that a great wave of hysteria, “by far the worst” in history, the most devastating “with regard to the number of lives that have been destroyed and families that have been disintegrated.”
Gardner’s basic argument is that allegations of child abuse are often fabricated by parents embroiled in custody disputes – another explanation not supported by statistics, the ones Gardner ignores. One study found that a mere two percent of all abuse accusations stem from visitation and custody disputes. Other researchers have placed the percentage slightly higher.) As for “mass hysteria,” one of the earliest promoters of this thesis was Ralph Underwager, co-author with his wife, Hollida Wakefield, of Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse. “Few physicians will wish to invest the time and money ($70) to own or even read this book,” complained a reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association. “It is of little value to those who work with abused children except as it may be important to be aware of all points of view. The book will be doubtless be useful to attorneys defending persons accused of sexual abuse of children. It appears to have been written particularly for that audience…. The authors cite over 700 references, but they do not really review this body of literature. When a given reference fails to support their viewpoint, they simply misstate the conclusion.”
Since 1974, Dr. Underwager has been the director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, Minnesota. He has since been frequently called upon to provide expert testimony – in the late ’80s he spent 60-70 percent of his professional life shuttling between courtrooms. He is the author of numerous articles debunking the credibility of ritual abuse victims. Dr. Underwager has frequently been cited by Debbie Nathan as a leading authority on the subject. Lisa Manshel, author of Nap Time, an account of the New Jersey ritual abuse case, found that “child sexual abuse was not his field of knowledge,” but “it was his field of courtroom practice. He proliferated the opinion, ‘No one knows how to tell accurately whether a child’s been abused’ throughout the nation’s courts.” He has testified in most states, and by satellite in foreign countries, before at least 200 juries.” Dr. Underwager once stated on the stand that he considered it “more desirable that a thousand children in abuse situations are not discovered than for one innocent person to be convicted wrongly.” Dr. Underwager, a founder of the False Memory Syndrome foundation, is an ordained Lutheran minister. He believes, he once said in an interview appearing in an Amsterdam journal for pedophiles, , that sex with children is not only acceptable, but “God’s will.”
Q: Is choosing pedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individual?
Underwager: Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I have come to know more about and understand people who choose pedophilia is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is usually an essential negative definition. Pedophiles spend a lot of time and energy defending their choice. I don’t think a pedophile needs to do that.
Underwager insisted that pedophiles “should attack the concept, the image, the picture of the pedophile as an evil, wicked and reprehensible exploiter of children.” Following the interview, Underwager was forced to resign as a founding member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (which is largely directed by CIA psychiatrists with backgrounds in mind control experimentation) The London Observer for December 12, 1993 reported that Dr. Underwager denied ever condoning sex with children. He added, however, that “scientific evidence” had demonstrated that “60 percent of women sexually abused as children reported that the experience was good for them. He contended the same could be true for boys involved with pedophiles..
The Descent of Mann
In a five-part series that appeared after the hung jury verdict of Ray Buckey’s first trial, Los Angeles Times reporter David Shaw found that the newspaper’s research files explained little of “the crucial behind-the-scenes role played by screenwriter Abby Mann.” Mann’s writing staff and circle of disinformationists have shaped public opinion on the McMartin case. Noel Greenwood, an L.A. Times editor, has described the wall of pro-Buckey PR thrown up by Mann and friends as “a mean, malevolent campaign conducted by people … whose motives are highly suspect and who have behaved in a basically dishonest … and dishonorable way.” Abby Mann, an Oscar recipient for a film about the Nazi war crimes trial, Judgment at Nuremburg (an oxymoron, since there was precious little justice at Nuremburg, a carefully-managed show trial that culminated with the execution of a small clutch of Nazis, minor prison terms for some – and recruitment of thousands of others by the CIA.) From the beginning, Mann was a vociferous advocate of the McMartin defendants. “We like to think we are different from Salem,” Mann sniffed at the resolution of Ray Buckey’s first trial. “I don’t believe that anything happened at that school.”
Abby Mann has worked diligently, largely back-stage, on behalf of Buckeys. It was Mann who first interested Sixty Minutes in the McMartin case. The November 2, 1986 broadcast was decidedly biased in favor of Ray Buckey. Defense attorney Danny Davis characterized the segment as “wholly sympathetic to the defense point of view.” Sixty Minutes led off with the camera panning a long couch and five of the original defendants. Mike Wallace asked: “Do these women look like child molesters?”
New York Times reporter David Hechler noted “gaping holes in the story. Why were no police or D.A.’s investigators interviewed or even mentioned? And if Ira Reiner believed the case was so weak against the five defendants, why did he wait until the five-month preliminary hearing was completed before dropping the charges? These questions were never asked.” The innocence of the defendants was assumed by Wallace and crew as a foregone conclusion, and the charges against them were framed as the aberrations of nattering lunatics. Most of the Sixty Minutes segment on McMartin was taped in Abby Mann’s living room. But heavily-biased media coverage was only one of the strategies quietly enacted by Abby Mann. When Deputy District Attorney Glenn Stevens was caught leaking information on the prosecution’s case to Mann, he was forced to resign. No charges were brought against him. From the Los Angeles Times. Gaining the confidence of the McMartin defendants, the Manns were ultimately hired as “investigators” for the defense. That and their earlier alliance with former prosecutor Glenn Stevens sparked charges from parents of alleged child molestation victims of a conspiracy to obstruct justice for monetary gain. After Los Angeles Tmes reporter Bob Williams met Abby Mann, he wrote a flurry of memos charging the coverage of Lois Timnick, the paper’s reporter on the McMartin beat, with extreme bias favoring the prosecution. The accusation was investigated by Noel Greenwood, the regional news editor at the Times. Greenwood concluded that it was Williams who’d acted with extreme bias, not Timnick. Greenwood’s memoes state that Williams’ memos were “reckless and irresponsible.” Williams had “undermined a fellow reporter and seriously harmed the credibility and effectiveness of the Times.” Williams was temporarily suspended without pay. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for Abby Mann. Williams surfaced next as a consultant to Mary Fischer, whose “A Case of Dominoes” in Los Angeles magazine drew upon the argument (first postulated by the child pornographers Paul and Shirley Eberle), that former District Attorney Robert Philobosian initiated the McMartin prosecution for political gain.
Fischer once admitted to the late Wayne Satz, the KABC television reporter who broke the McMartin story, that she wrote the article under the direction of Abby Mann. “There was never any case at all,” Fischer wrote with absolute certainty. “At the very least, it is a blueprint for preying on public fears.” Fischer has gone so far as to claim that therapists, parents and children attending McMartin masterminded a “conspiracy” to harass and imprison innocent people. When pressed on one occasion by Carol Hemingway, a Los Angeles talk show host, Fischer was unable to offer supporting evidence of conspiracy (as McMartin parents did), nor could she explain the motives of the conspirators. Fischer did her utmost to dismiss the medical evidence that molestation took place at the preschool. In October, 1988 the Los Angeles Times reported that medical examiners of the original 13 children scheduled to testify found “scars, tears, enlarged body openings or other evidence indicating blunt force trauma consistent with the repeated sodomy and rape they described.”
One of the children bled from the anus. Some contracted venereal infections. Yet Fischer found relevant the findings of a Fresno pediatrician who refused to testify at the first McMartin trial. The 1987 study, summarized by Fischer, concluded that “any kind of irritation – not just sexual abuse – may damage children’s genitals.” This reader, at least, was left to ponder forms of “irritation” that might leave the McMartin children with chlamydia, confirmed by medical examinations and difficult to explain away. Fischer’s follow-up McMartin story in Los Angeles for October, 1993 opined that a “hysterical tone” in press reports on McMartin was established by Wayne Satz. who died of heart failure in 1992, “causing some to speculate it was karma,” wrote Fischer, an ersatz and mean-spirited elegy. “I still don’t know how anyone could believe all that bull,” Virginia McMartin told her. “Especially with a school as wide open as ours and people coming and going at all times. Or who could actually believe there were tunnels.. (The archeological team that led the excavation – ignored by Fischer – could have given her a guided tour.) “It shows the power of the media.”
Apparently Abby Mann has a need for Ms. Fischer and the other writers in his employ. A best-selling Hollywood biographer (speaking on condition of anonymity) offers this insight into the career of Abby Mann. “He’s incapable of writing scripts himself. It’s true,” he said, “he can’t write. Abby keeps a fairly large stable of ghost writers to produce scripts in his name.” Who is Abby Mann? Mae Brussell, the late Carmel-based political researcher, speculated in a November, 1987 radio broadcast that Mann is a covert operator posing as a Hollywood progressive, plying extensive media connectioins to influence public opinion. Mann’s behind-the-scenes manipulations, ghosts and an exhaustive supply of funds and press contacts, support the hypothesis that Abby Mann is a media mole. Indictment, yet another disinformation effort supposedly written by Abby and Myra Mann, premiered on May 20, 1985 on HBO. The movie was produced and directed by Oliver Stone. As a political researcher, I had taken more than a passing interest in Stone’s film JFK, and couldn’t help but note that the media assault on Stone’s bore a resemblance to Mann’s campaign to discredit the McMartin children. The day after an announcement of the “secret” project already underway appeared in Variety, I contacted Stone’s office and spoke with Jean Marie Burke, a researcher for Ixtlan Productions, Stone’s company in Santa Monica. I informed Ms. Burke that much of the information about McMartin in the corporate media was disingenuous, beginning with the Eberles.
She brightened up. “Oh, the Eberles – I have their books right here!” She went silent when I told her that Paul and Shirley Eberle were child pornographers. I sent her a package of accurate information on the case by certified mail, then contacted her boss with a letter informing him simply that he had hold of a bad project, which had already been shot and was in the editing stage Stone wrote back, asking me to clarify. My response follows:
Mr. Stone: McMartin is poorly understood by most people because a disinformation gambit is afoot to discredit the children’s¹ testimony — a fusillade, in fact, similar to the one you were treated to after JFK. You asked me to clarify my objections. Consider how difficult it was to sort through and communicate the multitude of facts relevant to the killing of John Kennedy. And then recall how a carefully-conceived film on the assassination can be explained away with a glib “no evidence” from an Edward Epstein or Dan Rather. This is the problem I¹m up against with McMartin. There is a complex story behind the abuse — it involves CIA mind control experiments, and this is largely what the plants in the establishment press, and fronts like the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, are concealing. (Nine out of ten psychiatrists in both the U.S. and Great Britain from large samplings believe ritual abuse to be a very real social problem. But the media inevitably talks only to the one of ten who deny, and many of those are experimental scientists on the CIA payroll.) You now find yourself on the same side (of the McMartin argument) as Alex Cockburn (you recall the knock-down-drag-out Nation debate with a leading progressive who rejects key crimes of government ((including the Kennedy assassination)) for high-toned, but ultimately silly reasons), Newsweek, etc. That alone should make you uncomfortable in the extreme. One of your researchers brightened up when I mentioned the only two books available on McMartin, both written by Paul and Shiirley Eberle. She knew those books inside out. The problem is, the Eberles published child pornography in the 1970s — garishly packaged in an underground rag called Finger — featuring adults having sex with children, children with excrement smeared on them, children in lewd positions and posing provocatively. This ludicrous pedophile sheet ran stories with such unsavory testimonials as “She was Only Thirteen,” “What Happens when Niggers Adopt White Children,” “My First Rape,” and so on. Don¹t bother to read the McMartin books, if you haven¹t already. Each page is full of factual errors and conscious distortions. Your movie will perpetuate the Eberles’ disinformation. But the LA Times will love it. (Buffy Chandler told a source of mine, in a moment of rage at her family, that her parents (the owners of the L.A. Times) funded weird genetic experiments years ago. This is no more bizarre than some of the things done in pre-schools around the country, and may explain the newspaper¹s change of attitude after the initial reporting.)
But Noel Greenwood, a Times editor, knew what he was talking about when he said there is a “mean-spirited campaign” in play to slant the truth about McMartin. Abby Mann is a key proponent. His attorney threatened to sue if I didn’t retract my comments when an early version of my research appeared several years ago. I did not retract. In fact, the newspaper, Random Lengths in Long Beach, backed me. Others appearing in the story threatened me. They did not sue. Why not? They made such a noise. Now they are the sources of your movie, still making noise about “innocence abused,” and it¹s hollow.
They contend there is no evidence that children were abused at McMartin. On the contrary, there is an abundance of evidence. But the DA had no real intention of gathering it. Neither did the press. Same as JFK, eh? The CIA connection to cults around the country began in 1963. The story was told by a Berkeley psychologist in a thesis entitled “The Penal Colony,” which was presented at a psychiatric conference in San Francisco by Congressional aide Joe Holsinger after Leo Ryan was killed at Jonestown. The hybrid was conceived because people were asking questions about experiments at McGill, the University of Pennsylvania, John Hopkins, UCLA, Honeywell, NASA and other haunts of the CIA’s MKULTRA mind control fraternity. Jonestown was one product of the association. Another, more recent example was the Solar Temple killings in Switzerland. The British press reported that this cult was running arms to Australia and South America, and laundering the proceeds at BCCI. The American press couldn’t find this information. What does this tell you?
Buckey Sr. testified that he did not have tunnels dug beneath the preschool. Why would anyone do that? Five scientists have put their reputations on the line to confirm that there are tunnels. One, a carbon-dating specialist, discovered that the tunnels were excavated in 1968. That was the year the preschool was built. It was built by Charles Buckey. He lied on the stand. The kids gave fairly accurate descriptions of the tunnels. Did Abby?
Regards, Alex Constantine
Despite this protest, and threats of a boycott of HBO from children’s advocacy groups around the country, Indictment aired anyway. The movie simply reinforces the many misconceptions the public has been force-fed since Abby Mann became involved in the case. The Most Hated Man at the L.A. Times In January, 1990, after the anti-climactic, deadlocked verdict of the second trial, the Los Angeles Tmes ran a four-part series by media critic David Shaw, trashing the paper’s own coverage of the McMartin case. Shaw described press coverage of the case as a “media feeding frenzy” ranking with exposes of Gary Hart, Oliver North and Dan Quayle. “More than most big stories,” Shaw explained, “McMartin at times exposed basic flaws in the way the contemporary news organizations function. Pack journalism. Laziness. Superficiality.” Daily newspaper coverage, he argued, was contaminated by “cozy relationships with prosecutors,” and a competitive furor “that sends reporters off in a frantic search to be the first with the latest shocking alllegation.”
Shaw’s McMartin series won the Times its 18th Pulitzer, but few reporters attended the champagne party thrown in his honor. “Most people don’t like him,” Times staffer Lee Dye told a reporter for Los Angeles magazine. “He really is disliked at the Times,” said restaurant critic Ruth Reichl. Bill Boyarsky, another staffer, says “everyone around me hates him.” The harshest opinion of Shaw came from the late Glenn Binford, the paper’s late night editor at the city desk, who refers to Shaw as “an oily little prick.” The nickname stuck. “Even the late Dial Torgerson,” reported Los Angeles, “a droll, dry-witted newsman’s newsman … adopted the moniker, though it was uncharacteristic of Torgerson to disparage anyone.” Reporters for the “Metro” section particularly harbor a keen disdain for David Shaw.
Why is so much animosity directed his way? Most of Shaw’s colleagues at the Times feel that he receives special treatment. He is contracted to write a mere four stories a year. He moonlights as the monthly “Dining Out” columnist for GQ magazine. As the official ombudsman of the Times, one reporter complains, “Shaw plays favorites and purposefully ducks anything that may really irritate his superiors, tending instead to aim at those with no actual power.”
One of his primary targets is staff writer Lois Timnick and Cathleen Decker, whose McMartin coverage was hardly “frantic” or “superficial.” Shaw’s depiction of them as reportorial McCarthyites is not borne out by a review of the newspaper’s McMartin coverage, and the air around Times Mirror Square has, since his series appeared, been thick with acrimony. A week before Shaw received the Pultizer, Timnick (who has since stopped talking to him) threatened to organize an office “suicide party” if he won. When he did walk away with an award, the Pulitzer committee stated that it was given to Shaw not on the merits of his writing, but because the Times permitted him to criticize the paper’s own coverage of a landmark trial. Shaw was born on an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. He was educated at Pepperdine and UCLA. His career took off when, as a reporter for the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, he published a scalding investigative story on Max Rafferty, the Republican opponent of Alan Cranston for a Senate seat. Shaw’s five-part series killed Rafferty’s political prospects with allegations of draft dodging. Shaw received an award from the Los Angeles Press Club for the story, and a job offer from the Times.
That was 18 years ago. He was informally assigned to “the sex beat.” Shaw plied his investigative skills with titillating exposes of massage parlors and strip clubs. His piece on a nightspot featuring live sex with a dog threw the newsroom into turmoil – this is the same commentator who later dismissed most press coverage of McMartin as “sensational” and “superficial.” Shaw defines himself publicly as a “liberal,” but he frequently expresses right-wing sentiments, and his writing can be fairly summed up as propagandistic. He chose to write on McMartin, Los Angeles magazine reported, “because he needed an excuse to stay in town. ‘My wife was eight months pregnant, and I was looking for a story that would keep me in L.A. so I would be here for the birth.”
“Experts” on the McMartin debacle – Shaw, the Eberles, Dr. Underwager, Abby Mann, and others – have, in violation of their own admonitions, retired it in the press. Ray Buckey is supposed to be as innocent as Ceasar’s wife. If so, why do Buckey’s supporters ignore critical evidence? Why the statistical fabrications? Why lament repeatedly that the case took five years to try when dragging it out was a conscious defense strategy? Why ignore the tunnels and the bones? And, most troubling off all, why has so much effort been put into propagating mass deception on Buckey’s behalf?
Cult and Ritual Abuse – It’s History, Anthropology, and Recent Discovery in Contemporary America – Noblitt and Perskin – Prager (2000) p. 141 – 142 (1995 book – p.184 2000 book) “The McMartin Case is also the subject of the cable movie, Indictment, produced by Home Box Office. Several children’s advocacy groups have expressed concerns that the film’s focus appears to be slanted in favor of the accused perpetrators. The newsletter for the organization, Believe the Children, contains an impassioned plea to its readers to relinquish their subscriptions to Home Box Office (HBO) in protest of the film’s airing. An article featured in the newsletter entitled “Sex Abuse, Lies and Videotape”(1995) describes the genesis of the program and voices its concerns that the true victims of the McMartin case, the children, might be damaged by the perspective of the film’s author, Abby Mann. According to the article, Mann and his wife, Myra, became advocates of the operators and staff of the McMartin preschool during the course of their trial. Because of the Mann’s involvement in the case and their relationship to the accused perpetrators, the article expressed the concern that the film might reflect an unbalanced portrait of accused and accusers such that roles might be reversed in the eyes of the viewing public. This has, in fact, been proven to be a correct assumption. Reviews of the cable movie featured in magazines such as Time (Bellafante, 1995) and TV Guide (McDougal, 1995) on the film’s depiction of an overzealous prosecuting attorney, a mentally unbalanced parent of a child victim, and a punitive therapist all lend themselves to the perpetuation of the ideas that the true victims are the alleged perpetrators. Ironically, this film also casts the media in an unfavorable light implying that the media’s over-the-top reporting of the event led to a veritable witch hunt.”
“The movie “The Indictment,” produced for Home Box Office, about the McMartin trial, was criticized by several children’s advocacy groups for being slanted in favor of the accused perpetrators. According to an article featured in the newsletter “Sex Abuse, Lies and Videotape,” (1995) the film’s author Abby Mann and his wife Myra became advocates of the operators and staff of the McMartin preschool during the McMartin trial. The article expressed the concern that the film might reflect an unbalanced portrait of accused and accusers such that roles might be reversed in the eyes of the viewing public. This has been proven to be a correct assumption.”
Chronology of the McMartin Preschool Abuse Trials
May 1983 Judy Johnson enrolls her 2 1/2-year-old son at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California.
June, July 1983 Judy takes her son to a pediatrician because he was complaining about his bottom hurting. The doctor has no specific diagnosis. The next time the child complained of having a lot of pain, she took him to a different doctor. Again the doctor had no explanation. In fairness there was virtually no information on the symptoms of sexual abuse of small children at that time.
August 12, 1983 Judy was shopping at a grocery store with her son in the cart when he complained again of severe pain. Judy checked his diaper and found blood.
She went to yet another respected local pediatrician and he diagnosed the boy as having been sodomized. The doctor, mandated to report cases of child sexual abuse, reports the case to authorities.
August 18, 1983 Judy Johnson meets with Detective Jane Hoag to be interviewed about her son’s symptoms for the investigation.
August 30, 1983 As requested, Johnson takes her son with her to the police station for another interview. He is 2 years and 8 months old. He names Ray Buckey.
September 9, 1983 Police Chief Harry Kuhlmeyer sends out a letter to 200 McMartin Preschool parents informing them that Ray Buckey is
suspected of child abuse and asking them for information. As other victims come forward, an unspecific list of suspected street blocks
and areas in town is circulated.
September 15, 1983 Ray Buckey is arrested on suspicion of child molestation but released soon after.
October 17, 1983 The District Attorney’s Office asks Kee MacFarlane, a consultant for the Children’s Institute International, to interview
child sex abuse victims who attended the school.
November 1983 Children’s Institute International interviewers begin diagnosing former students of the McMartin Preschool as having been sexually
abused. Dr. Astrid Heger does medical examinations with an innovative diagnostic tool called the culposcope. This microscopic examination technique allows slide pictures to be taken of minute scarring caused by penetration.
December 1983 One of the teachers, and defendant Babette Spitler, is promoted to director of the McMartin preschool in Peggy McMartin’s
place. Ms Spitler begs the parents to keep the children in the school and refer the school to others as well.
January 13, 1984. Virginia McMartin Preschool shut down after 28 years in business. The first McMartin Preschool located 1 mile west and this
second school were in operation totaling over 37 years. Virginia kept records on file cards of over 3,000 former and current students.
February 2, 1984 KABC reporter Wayne Satz shocks television viewers with reports of a massive child abuse scandal at the McMartin
February 1984 Seven defendants are arrested and charged with 207 counts of child molestation and conspiracy. Over 90 McMartin parents, file a civil suit against Virginia McMartin, Peggy Buckey, Betty Raidor, Babette Spitler, Peggy Ann Buckey and Ray Buckey for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress with one attorney. Others file suit with other attorneys. All suits are eventually dropped by civil attorneys after the 6 year statute of
limitations expired before the trial ended. Civil suits by families are never refiled.
March 11, 1984 A number of other daycare centers in the Los Angeles area are closed by the California State Department of Public Social
Services. Ten additional schools are closed in the South Bay area.
March 22, 1984 Teachers Peggy Buckey, Virginia McMartin, Ray Buckey, Peggy Ann Buckey (Ray’s sister), Mary Ann Jackson, Betty Raidor, and
Babette Spitler are indicted on 115 counts of child sexual abuse.
April 2, 1984 The L. A. Times reports that students at McMartin have been fondled, raped, drugged, photographed nude, forced to witness
animals being slaughtered and threatened to keep silent.
May 23, 1984 The prosecution files 93 new counts. The indictment count reaches 208, involving 40 alleged child victims.
Fall 1983 to March 1984 Nearly 400 children were interviewed at Children’s Institute International. Forty-one children are listed as victims in a
complaint filed by the State. The count of those diagnosed as sexually abused reaches 360 students. DA Robert Philibosian announces the 1976 Karen Klass murder case will be reexamined to determine if it could be linked to the McMartin case. Klass was the ex wife of Righteous Brother Bill Medley. She had been
murdered approximately an hour after leaving her 5 year old son at the pre school. Klass’ husband also died shortly after the McMartin
indictments in March 1984. His death was ruled an accident after he drove off a mountain road one afternoon in Oregon.
March 22, 1984, Los Angeles Grand Jury issues indictment charging 7 former teachers with 115 counts
April 7, 1984 Bail revoked for 5 defendants who had been free on bail when 400 additional sex acts are presented.
May 1984 Arsonist attempts to burn down the empty cinder block preschool building, causing over $10,000 in damage. The room where
children identified the entrance to the tunnels, the “C” Charlie room was most badly destroyed. The classrooms are repainted, new furniture
is built and trees trimmed in time for the jury to tour the site.
May 24, 1984 An additional 92 counts of child molestation are filed against all 7 defendants. A charge of conspiracy to commit lewd and
lascivious acts by force or threat of force on a child under 14. Count is now 207 against 42 children.
June 8, 1984 Preliminary hearing begins.
June 1984 Bail for Peggy Buckey is set at $1 million; Ray Buckey continues to be held without bail.
July 12, 1984 A Federal Grand Jury is impaneled to begin its own investigation of the case.
August 8, 1984 Prosecutor Lael Rubin announces that the seven McMartin teachers committed 397 sexual crimes, in addition to the 115 for which
they already faced charges.
August 17, 1984 Preliminary hearing begins. The pretrial begins with Judge Aviva Bobb and prosecutors Lael Rubin, Glenn Stevens and
October 26, 1984 Judge Aviva Bobb consolidates hearing for Buckey and six others. There are 7 defense attorneys one for each of the 7 defendants. Any objection by defense can be (and are) repeated 7 times. Each objectionhas to be argued separately, enormously extending courtroom time used
by the defense.
November 1, 1984 Sheriff Sherman Block announces that the Sheriff’s Department will enter into the investigation and be responsible for
allegations in relation to the operation of the McMartin preschool which are not part of the current court case. The number of “Uncharged
suspects” is estimated at 85+.
January 7, 1985 Doctor Astrid Heger testifies that she found physical evidence of sexual assaults on 33 of the child witnesses.
March 1985 A group of nearly 50 McMartin Preschool parents arrive at the lot adjacent to the school formerly used as a play yard for the
school and begin searching for the tunnels many of the children talked about. A dead turtle is found with roots growing up through its
shell. The District Attorney is called immediately. A few days later, an archeological firm, SRS, hired by the District Attorney’s Office begins its own dig. Using the Geonics EM31Terrain Conductivity meter, the side lot is searched no more than 6 inches in depth. The team never entered the preschool building. Several turtles and other animal remains were found.
March 6, 1985 Judy Johnson was put on 72 hour watch at a hospital. She is released with no diagnosis of any mental disorder.
April 29, 1985 An increasing number of suspected perpetrators have been probed by detectives since September of 1984. Fifty additional
individuals are placed under investigation. A special elite task force consisting of 21 detectives and prosecutors is formed by the Los
Angeles County Sheriff’s Department by Chief Sherman Block and headed by Lieutenant Richard Wiley to look at these and other “uncharged
suspects. Investigations of 5 preschools in the area are not expected to produce any arrests for over a year. “Under the current legal system, we cannot file criminal actions because of their age and inability to qualify in a court system,” states Wiley.
May 18, 1985 Governor signs SB46 giving judges the discretion to use closed circuit testimony for child victims of sexual abuse. This law
years later passes the Supreme Court and becomes national law.
June 11, 1985 Judge Bobb rules that child witnesses will not be allowed to use the new statute allowing child victims of abuse to
testify over closed circuit TV. The prosecution immediately announced that it would not call any of its remaining witnesses. Only 5 of those
28 were willing to testify at all and then only by way of closed circuit TV. Six other witnesses dropped out because Rubin said they
could not withstand even the protective TV procedure. The remaining 16 witnesses had been withdrawn by their parents after they saw the
effects of lengthy cross-examination on the early witnesses. This reduces the number of witnesses from 43 to 13 and, as a result,
the reduces the number of counts.
June 14, 1985 Prosecutors add an additional 50 counts raising the number to 241 counts.
January 1986 Prosecutor Glenn Stevens is ordered to hand in his resignation form the District Attorney’s office after he is caught lying to his superiors about leaking information to the media.
January 9, 1986 Judge Aviva Bobb orders all 7 defendants held over to Superior Court trial with 135 counts of molestation and conspiracy. Thirteen of
the 41 child original witnesses remain. The cost of the 18 month hearing was estimated at $4 Million. The indictment had been 115 counts. Ultimately 20 counts were added.
January 17, 1986 Before the case is assigned to a trial judge and after loosing 28 witnesses because of brutal defense tactics during
the pretrial weakened the case, District Attorney Ira Reiner decides to drop charges against five of the seven defendants. Reiner tells
parents that Betty Raidor has enough remaining counts to face trial, but says he thinks she would not fit in prosecuting mother and son,
Peggy and Ray Buckey. The two are prosecuted on 79 counts and 20 counts, respectively, of child sexual abuse.
January 23, 1986 Peggy Buckey is released on $295,000 bail after bail is reduced from $495,000.
August 1986 Former prosecutor Glenn Stevens contracts with screenwriter Abby Mann to do a book and a movie in which he would be
portrayed as an ambitious attorney whose conscious got the better of him. Voluminous transcripts of Steven’s taped interviews at Mann’s
Beverly Hills Mansion were transcribed. Stevens accuses Rubin of being a liar and DA Philibosian of playing up the publicity. Mann goes to
the defense and asks to be hired as an investigator so the information can be included in the trial. The trial stops while these allegations
are reviewed. Stevens also jokes about Judy’s dog being sodomized and says she is a “banana boat.” Judy was never diagnosed with any mental illness
despite having been on a 72 hour watch at UCLA County Hospital. Eventually, Mann produces the information he gathers from the McMartins and defense attorneys into the movie `Indictment.’
December 19, 1986 Judy Johnson is found dead at 2:45 PM in her Manhattan Beach house by police after concerned neighbors called. Judy
died before having a chance to testify at the trial
April 20, 1987 Jury selection for the Superior court trial begins. Ray Buckey and his mother Peggy face 100 counts. Ninety-nine counts of child
molestation and 1 count of conspiracy.
January 13, 1987 Opening statements begin.
July 29, 1987 First parent testifies.
August 1987 The first victim witness, a girl now age 12, takes the stand as a witness for the prosecution.
October 12, 1987 Judge Pounders dismisses 27 of the 100 counts. Some parents, again refuse to let their children testify under adverse conditions.
December 10, 1987 Retired former police investigator Paul Bynum is called to testify at the trial by prosecutor Lael Rubin. The morning he was to appear, a juror’s home was burglarized and Bynum’s testimony was rescheduled for the next morning. Bynum was found dead by his wife at 5:45 that morning, shot in the head by a .38 caliber pistol. Bynum had conducted the first search for evidence at the preschool site in 1984 at the request of Ray Buckey. “None of the half dozen people questioned who were close to Bynum could think of any reason why his involvement in the case might have driven him to suicide,” reported Kevin Cody of the Easy Reader in Manhattan Beach. “Paul was kind of a worrier,” said Stephen Kay, a deputy district attorney and friend of the Bynum family, “but there was no hint of suicide. He was very upbeat about his wife and new daughter, both of whom he adored.”
October 19, 1988 The defense opens its case after 61 witnesses have finished testifying for the prosecution.
December 1988 Paul and Shirley Eberle, prolific pornographers of the 1970s (Finger magazine) and editors of the pornographic tabloid, LA Star, publish The
Abuse of Innocence, their version of the trial thus far.
February 15, 1989 Ray Buckey is released from jail on $1.5 million bond.
February 1989 Ray Buckey is released on bail after spending five years in jail.
May 16, 1989 Peggy Buckey takes the stand in her own defense and vigorously denies all allegations.
July 26, 1989 Ray Buckey takes the stand and denies he molested children.
July 27, 1989 Danny Davis, Ray Buckey’s attorney tops the list as the highest paid court appointed attorney at $509,340.00 for the 1986-87 fiscal year.
November 2, 1990, Jurors begin deliberations.
January 18, 1990 The jury returns its verdict in the first McMartin trial. Peggy and Ray Buckey are acquitted on 52 counts. The jury deadlocks on 13 counts, all against Ray Buckey. The jurors are polled and say they believe molestation took place at the preschool but that the prosecution did not prove the case. The expressed disappointment at not hearing more from the children.
January (late) 1990 District Attorney Reiner announces that he will retry Ray Buckey on eight of the 13 counts involving three girls.
February 5, 1990 Deputy District Attorneys Joe Martinez and Pam Ferraro are assigned to the case. Incredibly, after the trial, it is discovered that Pam Ferraro was a former student of the McMartin Preschool. Photographs of her sitting on Peggy Buckey’s lap reading a book, sitting at a table with Peggy, Virginia and several of other students as well as a McMartin preschool class picture including Peggy and Virginia.
April May, 1990 Tunnels are found under the foundation of the McMartin preschool building by a team of Archaeologists headed by Dr. Gary Stickel. Ground Penetrating Radar recently developed by the U.S. Army is used to define the location of anomalies under ground. Three segments of tunnel, one over 45 feet in length with a 9′ x 9′ room area are found exactly where the children said they were. District Attorney does not use the evidence because of time and money
constraints and the fact that they would have to start a new investigation of their own at the site as they did in 1985. The discoveries are widely reported in the news.
May 30, 1990 With the entire team of archaeologists, geologists still uncovering evidence of filled in tunnels, the McMartin Preschool is demolished by a bulldozer ordered by the new owner, developer, Arnold Goldstein. Final cost of the archaeological project, paid for by parents and donations, exceeds $53,000.
June 8, 1990, 83 year old Virginia McMartin takes the stand at her grandson’s retrial and after only 10 minutes and several outbursts in front of the jury, testimony is halted. A year earlier when she testified in front of Judge Pounders her testimony ended in the same outrageous manner. Judge Pounders had threatened to have her jailed, but later declared her medically infirm.
July 2-3 1990 Lawyers present closing arguments.
July 27, 1990 On their 15th day of deliberations, the jury tells the judge they are hopelessly deadlocked on all 8 counts. The judge declares a mistrial.
Juror L. I., a 64 year old treasury department employee said , “I don’t know how you could get 12 people to be unanimous in this case. There are too many unanswered questions. Too much time has passed.” Again because of money and time constraints, DA Ira Reiner decides not to ask for a third trial of Ray Buckey. The first two prosecutions have consumed over $15 million and seven years of court time. He is under tremendous political pressure because he has failed in prosecuting the case.
May 1991 Parent is ordered to pay one dollar each to McMartin defendants after they sue him for defamation of character. They had asked for $500,000 each.
1995 Virginia McMartin dies at age 88. HBO shows a docudrama, “The Indictment,” written by McMartin sympathizer Abby Mann and starring
James Wood. The McMartins are paid over $75.000 each for their version of the story. Mann wins an award for his work. Oliver Stone had
originally backed the project but minimized his involvement after public outrage. By 2000, Betty Raidor and Peggy McMartin Buckey die also.
1996 Single mother Jackie M. who saw the archaeological investigation of the school site to its conclusion commissions the archaeologist,
Dr. E. Gary Stickel to write a formal report. All other professionals involved cooperate in gathering facts and assisting Dr. Stickel in composing a formal report.
1998 Formal report of the Archaeological Investigation at the McMartin Preschool is completed at the cost of $3,000. Jackie and the archaeologist present the findings at the APSAC (American Professional Society Against Abuse of Children), Children’s Hospital Conference in San Diego, California
Archaeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site (http://web.archive.org/web/20010406130849/http://members.cruzio.com/~ratf/McMartIntro.html)
Introduction by Santa Cruz Ritual Abuse Task Force
Have you heard of the McMartin case? Most people know something about the story. In 1983, hundreds of kids disclosed to their parents and therapists that they were abused at the prestigious McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California. Seven people were arrest and charged with hundreds of counts of child sexual abuse, setting off the longest and most expensive trial in U.S. History (7 years-$20,000).
The defense claimed that the kids hadn’t really been abused, but that their memories were implanted by a conspiracy of witchhunting therapists. It was a successful tactic and all of the accused were let go.
Well, the kids memories weren’t implanted. Many of the kids consistently talked about tunnels under the pre-school where they were taken, sexually abused, and witnessed terrifying events such as animals being killed. The defense called these accusations “bizarre” and claimed they were proof that the children were wrong.
But the truth is that the tunnels are there. In fact they are more than just there. The tunnels are extensive, include a large room just as the children said, and lead to further sites off the property. The tunnels were found in an archeological dig under the pre-school conducted by Dr. E. Gary Stickel, archaeologist and director of Environmental Research Archaeologists, a Scientific Consortium.
You probably haven’t heard of these tunnels. Debbie Nathan, a journalist who made her career by ridiculing evidence of ritual abuse, ignored the archeological investigation entirely in her in her book Satan’s Silence which talked extensively about the McMartin case. HBO’s television movie Indictment: The McMartin Trial portrays the entire community as hysterical with no mention that the tunnels were found. The False Memory Syndrome Foundation Newsletter has claimed outright that no tunnels were ever uncovered, even though members of the board of directors have copies of the full report.
So here it is, the summary of the Archeological Investigation of the McMartin Pre-School Site. The full report is currently looking for a publisher. If you are interested in publishing this work, please contact the task force.
Archaeological Investigations of the McMartin Preschool Site, Manhattan Beach, California
During the month of May 1990 an archaeological project was conducted at the McMartin Preschool site to determine, once and for all, whether or not there had ever been tunnels under the building, as described by various children. Excavation was carried out according to established scientific conventions with a careful research design defining what might prove or disprove the existence of “an underground feature that would connect to the surface of the site and extend underground for some distance. ” [with] dimensions large enough to accommodate adult human movement through it”. (p. 24)
The project unearthed not one but two tunnel complexes as well as previously unrecognized structural features which defied logical explanation. Both tunnel complexes conformed to locations and functional descriptions established by children’s reports. One had been described as providing undetected access to an adjacent building on the east. The other provided outside access under the west wall of the building and contained within it an enlarged, cavernous artifact corresponding to children’s descriptions of a “secret room”.
Both the contour signature of the walls and the nature of recovered artifacts indicated that the tunnels had been dug by hand under the concrete slab floor after the construction of the building. Whatever the purpose of this elaborate enterprise, even more effort must have been devoted to filling the tunnels back in and trying to conceal any evidence of their existence. Much of the fill dirt used for packing the tunnel spaces was mixed with historic debris, as if to mimic the surrounding terrain.
Not only did the discovered features fulfill the research prequalifications as tunnels designed for human traffic, there was also no alternative or natural explanation for the presence of such features.
The McMartin preschool in Manhattan Beach, California was the first of what has since been described as a national epidemic of multi-victim, multi-perpetrator accusations of sexual and sadistic abuse which erupted in the mid 1980’s. The McMartin case was encumbered with hundreds of charges against seven defendants and dozens of uncharged suspects. It became the longest, most expensive and arguably most controversial criminal trial in American history. The descriptions given by children to investigators and parents were unusual and unprecedented as they emerged in 1983, but they became so stereotypic to subsequent cases throughout the country as to become generic of presumed “ritual abuse”. Accusations of such extreme cruelty and bizarre perversity in the absence of physical evidence or obviously deranged suspects led eventually to increasing skepticism that such crimes could possibly exist. Simple alternative explanations emerged, first as criminal defense theories and then as common wisdom: very young children were moved by the hysterical overreaction of various adults to make unfounded accusations. Full-page newspaper ads placed in 1984 by McMartin criminal defense attorneys raised the specter of the Salem witch trials. The witch hunt analogy has since flourished to create substantial public distrust of preschool-age witnesses and of the adults who question them.
The failure of prosecutors to obtain even a single conviction in the McMartin trial has been taken by many as proof that the children’s allegations were merely fantastic. Various journalists have demanded punishment of the professionals and parents who had chosen to believe them. Similar allegations arising more recently in other cases in the United States and abroad are tested against the McMartin standard, creating a prejudice against investigating or substantiating even remotely “bizarre” complaints. Parents in such cases feel triply betrayed: first with the dreadful discovery of abuse; second with their abandonment by law enforcement, and third with being blamed for imagining the abuse and fomenting public hysteria.
One of the supposedly bizarre aspects of the McMartin case was the children’s insistence that they were taken into underground tunnels. They explained that the tunnels led to an underground “secret room” where abuse occurred, as well as providing a route for subversive transport to off-site locations for sexual exploitation. These stories were apparently considered fantastic by investigators, who made no attempt to search beneath the building.
A group of parents forced the hand of the district attorney on March 17, 1985 by initiating an excavation in the adjacent lot. The district attorney then authorized an archaeological inspection of that lot by Scientific Resource Surveys Inc. (SRS). There was no exploration beneath the slab floor. Instrumental survey with a terrain conductivity meter failed to detect alterations under the concrete. The SRS technician informed the district attorney’s investigator that the meter proved useless within the structure because of excessive interference from pipes and steel reinforcement. The preemptory conclusion at that time that there were no tunnels has become gospel among detractors of the McMartin families. Influential journalists ridicule parents for ever entertaining such a possibility and mock their subsequent attempts at exploration.
The first opportunity for private exploration came in April 1990 when the property was sold. Several parents obtained permission from the new owner to search for the tunnels. After cutting out a section of concrete and coming up with ambiguous findings, it became apparent that experienced supervision was needed. Gerald Hobbs, a professional miner, was engaged to insure safety and to better define the nature of the underground artifacts. When an apparent tunnel entrance was discovered and then verified by geologist Dr. E. Don Michael, parents sought out the archaeological team that completed the present project.
The project was designed and conducted by E. Gary Stickel, Ph.D., on the recommendation of Rainer Berger, Ph.D., Professor and Chair of the Interdisciplinary ?Program of the Archaeology Department at UCLA. Dr. Stickel is director of Environmental Research Archaeologists, a Scientific Consortium(ERA).
Several areas of the preschool site were designated and mapped as units for scientific excavation. These were selected according to differing criteria: re-exploration of sites documented in the district attorney’s SRS survey, children’s reports of entrance locations, anomalies detected through instrumental survey by ground penetrating radar (GPR), and the sites of significant discovery under Mr. Hobbs’ supervision.
Hypotheses and Test Expectations
The primary research problem was to determine whether or not there were a tunnel(s) and an underground room(s) at the site in question. To meet the test hypotheses, a tunnel would be an underground feature that would connect to the surface of the site and extend underground for some distance, possibly (but not necessarily) connecting to an underground room(s). It would have to have dimensions large enough to accommodate adult human movement through it. Such a tunnel on the subject property could have been constructed in two ways: 1) either dug out as a trench-like opening which would then be roofed over with wood and/or other materials and covered over with fill above to make a true tunnel (as opposed to an open trench), or 2) would be dug out completely underground, which would then leave a “ceiling” over its passageway formed of the naturally deposited soil. If the latter were the case, such a tunnel may or may not have been fitted with an underground “roof” of wood and/or other materials either to reinforce the strength of the “ceiling” of the tunnel or to keep loose soil and dust from falling down on people using it. In either scenario (l or 2) such a tunnel may have had posts of wood and/or other materials (e.g. iron) to serve as shoring reinforcements.
Thus, given the operational definition of a tunnel considered here, the following hypothesis and test expectations were considered (test expectations are specific, tangible data that are to be expected and are discoverable if the hypothesis is valid; Stickel, 1979).
If a tunnel(s) were present at the McMartin Preschool site, then the following test expectations should be present:
1. An opening(s) (entrance and/or exit) large enough for human passage should be present permitting access from the surface down into a tunnel feature.
2. Tunnel architecture should be linear or curvilinear (i.e. an elongated passageway leading in a definable direction(s).
3. Tunnel architecture (especially depth or height and width) should be large enough to accommodate adult human passage.
4. The walls and/or uncovered soil ceiling of the tunnel should have “signatures” of markings indicating whether the tunnel had been dug by hand and/or by a machine (e.g. a backhoe).
5. There should be a compacted dirt floor (compacted by human foot traffic) distinguishable from surrounding non-tunnel soil which should not be compacted.
6. The tunnel could be open (i.e. traversable and unfilled).
7. The tunnel may be naturally (i.e. natural processes of erosion and soil redeposition) or artificially (by human action) filled in with soil. Such fill should be distinguishable from the natural soil matrix of the site in terms of color and/or by texture, and compaction (i.e. would be less compact than the soil forming the tunnel’s walls, floor and ceiling).
8. The tunnel fill may have inclusions of:
1. Natural stones and/or other natural items or;
2. Artifacts and/or ecofacts.
9. Although a tunnel of the type sought in this project may not be directly datable (e.g. in contrast to a construction date molded into the concrete of a railroad tunnel), the tunnel may be dated indirectly by the dates on artifacts contained within it if any are present.
The test expectations for a subterranean room would be essentially the same as for a tunnel. The exception would be for test expectations 1, 2 and 3 above which would be modified to reflect necessary doorway(s) into a room, that the shape of the room would not be too linear (as a tunnel) but would be “room shaped”, i.e. square, round, or ovoid, and that a room would be of sufficient dimensions (length, width and height) to be distinguishable from a tunnel passageway. A room would thus be of sufficient size to accommodate a number of people interacting in a face-to-face manner as opposed to a tunnel which (depending on its size) would provide restricted possibilities for human interaction. Since, on balance, one would expect human usage of a room to be more prolonged than in a tunnel passageway, artifacts catering to prolonged usage would be expected in such a room, perhaps in the form of chairs, couches, tables, a lighting system, etc. These expectations were borne in mind during our search of the site.
Initial surveys would be conducted with remote sensing instrumentation. The author’s experience elsewhere predicted that Ground Penetrating Radar, rather than the terrain conductivity meter used in the previous survey, would be effective for anomalies beneath a concrete slab floor.
The profile of an entrance/exit tunnel was discovered under the foundation of the west wall of the building (Classroom #4, see map, p. 13, this summary). The signature of this feature was described and sketched by consulting geologist Don Michael, Ph.D. (p. 113). The feature was clearly distinguished by loose, disturbed soil and the artifacts contained within it. The outside margins had an inverted bell-shaped curve profile. The tunnel signature was established both by the sharp demarcation of soil color and texture, as well as by the exclusive presence within the cavity fill of assorted historic debris such as old cans and bottles, various metal fragments and small household items. The roof at that point was provided by the bottom of the concrete foundation. Inside the foundation a roof of soil was evident.
The profile was also demarcated by severed tree roots, the significance of which was described by professional tree surgeon Jerry Hobbs:
…running under the foundation from south to north was a large root which had been chopped off at the edge of where the large amount of cans, bottles, and plastic were being found. A growing root would have had to run in and through the cans and bottles but did not. The root, some 3″ in diameter had been severed with a hand saw about 90% through, then pulled off, peeling the bark of the root. The peeled layer of the cambium layer had well established healing already in progress. New feeder roots had started to grow from the cut portion of the root, and attained lengths of 6″ to 15″. A space of 59″ to the north the roots pick up again, only these had been chopped off from the larger root and were dead. [The dead root] was about 1″ in diameter and continued in the same 30 degree angle as the other root, the cambium layer was separating from the rest of the woody part of the root, indication it was probably severed at the same time the green root that was attached to the tree was severed. Both the feeder root lengths and the healing of the cambium layer indicate that the root had been cut at a time of 4 to 6 years earlier. I feel my determination is accurate due to my experience of the planting and removal and care of some of the same kind of trees for more than 25 years. To me this is conclusive that with the inconsistent soil area, the plastic bag dated 1982 [see next paragraph] and the old bottles, cans and debris, were put in the ground after 1982, and it was not an old dump area as it appeared. (Appendix III, pp. 174-176)
A plastic sandwich bag was found under the foundation at a depth of 42″ below the surface and 3-6″ inside the wall line of the building. The bag was imprinted with Disney characters and the words: “?1982 Walt Disney Productions”, along with a logo of a school house with “Disney Class of 1982/1983” underneath. These factors led Dr. Michael to conclude “therefore, the cavity could be no older than 1983″ (p. 84).
Due to the crucial location and dating of the Disney bag as evidence of recent disturbance, alternate hypotheses were examined. Could the bag have been artifactual not of a clandestine, buried tunnel but rather incidental to the parents’ March 1985 dig or to the subsequent SRS excavation commissioned by the district attorney? After careful analysis of the parameters of each excavation, Mr. Langenwalter, senior author of the SRS study, concluded that since the parents’ backhoe trench was no less than 137″ from the northwest corner, it is clear that the plastic Disney bag was located by Hobbs in the virgin area between the SRS excavation and the parents’ dig. In fact, it was recovered 7″ south of the parameters of the SRS excavation and approximately 13″ north of the parents’ backhoe trench (p.184).
The emphatic correlation of definitive observations for this tunnel entrance feature is especially significant in view of its location: the decision was made to explore this precise area because some of the children had stated that there had been animal cages placed along the wall and they had entered a tunnel under the cages at that point (cf. Langenwalter, et al, 1985: 13).
Excavations where conducted in the westernmost sector of Unit 1 in room #3. This site was selected because a GPR anomaly was detected through the concrete floor in an area next to and continuing up against the west dividing wall between classrooms #3 & #4. Several human-introduced artifacts were encountered adjacent to a 3 inch cast iron waste pipe running northward from the dig. The size of the artifacts ruled out their introduction by burrowing rodents (bioturbation) and their distribution was confined within a shallow, trench-like profile of different colored soil. This proved to be a mechanically dug trench to accommodate the waste pipe from the bathroom in classroom #3, as substantiated also by the signature characteristic of a backhoe. However, one aspect of the pipe and trench complex was uncharacteristic and unexplainable at the time of excavation: the stainless steel clamps connecting an angle of the waste pipe. These two clamps were notable in that they appeared to be brand new, with a very shiny silver color, lacking the patina expected of objects buried long underground. That apparent disparity of age or use became more apparent as other clamps were unearthed elsewhere, all of which were considerably etched and discolored. There was no opening through the concrete floor which could have allowed for access to these clamps after the floor was poured, and there was no explanation for their like-new appearance if they had remained buried for the life of the structure.
A possible tunnel feature was excavated from the toilet areas in classroom #1 and the office. This feature was distinguished clearly by the color and compaction of the interior soil, which was much darker and more loosely compacted. The feature appeared to connect the area beneath the office and classroom #1 and to proceed eastward toward the eastern, outer wall of the preschool. Mr. Hobbs made a number of ancillary observations, summarized as follows:
The children stated that they had entered a tunnel from the south east corner of room 1. We dug down along the east wall of room one and the bathroom. As we followed the disturbed area south, it went under the wall into the now existing bathroom, after about 6 feet it made an abrupt right turn to the east and headed for the neighboring property. The children had told two different stories about this tunnel prior to the dig. One, that they had gone through the tunnel and come up in the house next door and two, they had come up in the garage, which blocked the house from the street. At any rate the tunnel went in that direction. I went to the house next door and followed the walk between the school and the house which were only about 4′ apart. I went under the house and bellied my way toward the southwest corner of the house. After going about 20′ I found an area inside the west wall of the house where the floor was cut out. If I remember correctly the area of the floor that was missing was 36″ by 38″ or 41”, you could reach up and touch the bath tub which was exposed. The plumbing in that area appeared to be quite new.
I went back to the school and continued to dig. The tunnel I had been following was now headed toward the corner of the house where I had found the hole cut in the floor. I was very close to the foundation of the house, I was sure, so I poked a hole up through to the surface. The hole I punched through was about 2′ beyond the west wall of the house and about 1′ outside the south wall of the house. This tunnel was in direct line with the cut out opening under the house.
In addition to the difference in soil composition, the tunnel feature was distinctive from the surrounding matrix and from some other tunnel features discovered later, in that it had been back filled with earth that contained virtually no large artifacts or ecofacts. It did contain numerous flecks of charcoal and carbon and pieces of plaster with green paint, which the excavators hypothesized might be the remnants of the green paint that had been applied to the school in 1984 or 1985 and possibly of the fire that had occurred within the building on April 8, 1984. The maximum depth of the feature was 6 feet, and its excavated length was over 26 feet. The feature fulfilled 4 of the 5 test expectations as a tunnel, lacking only a well defined roof contour.
Several units for study were established in the adjacent vacant property (sidelot) and in the play yard adjacent to the school building, in reference to both the prior archaeological project and anomalies detected by GPR. These digs turned up apparently irrelevant artifacts such as the cesspool of the earlier residence on the sidelot and some irregular chunks and slabs of concrete. A more surprising finding was the absence of toys or other playthings that would be expected from the use of the excavated area of the preschool play yard as a children’s sand box. The only exception was a 3 inch plastic plate bearing three hand-drawn five-pointed stars of differing sizes. These stars were drawn by an adult with a careful and deliberate style inconsistent with childrens drawings.
The most definitive discoveries came to light through following the vein of artifactual debris from the tunnel portal under the west wall of Classroom #4. An apparent tunnel signature veered southward once inside the foundation. The width and direction were clearly indicated not only by the abundance of historic artifacts contained within it, but also the soil color of the fill matrix was distinctly darker than the surrounding natural soil. The average width of the tunnel feature was greater than 4 feet as it extended on the diagonal completely across Unit 1 and under the concrete floor to the western edge of Unit One.
Proceeding southward, the tunnel feature widened at one point to the extent that it appeared less tunnel-like and more like a room. Also at that point a layer of plywood roofing material along with tar paper and roofing nails was found at the top of the tunnel fill material. Underneath the plywood and tar paper was a continuing abundance of bottles, wood and other debris. It became obvious that this densely packed debris-filled area was quite large in relation to the tunnel passage previously described. This room-like feature extended southward to the area under the doorway to Classroom #4 and the sidewalk corridor beyond.
It was observed that the layer of plywood and tar paper, which may have served as a kind of roof for the room-like portion of the feature, continued in an arc to the east across the east side of the southeast corner of trench Unit 1. There were obvious soil color and density demarcation lines at the roof, floor and sides. The overburden of soil forming. The existing roof of the tunnel at that point was 22 inches thick (measuring from between the bottom of the concrete floor and the demarcation of the former tunnel cavity). The walls of this wider area bore shovel mark “scars”. These “scars” indicated that the tunnel had been dug out with hand tools rather than mechanized equipment.
The depth of the tunnel in the room-like area was a little more than 6’8″, which would have permitted most adult males to stand upright. In contrast, the depth of the tunnel in the passageway leading up to the room-like feature was more shallow, at an average of 5’11”, which would have required most adult males to bend over when walking through the passageway.
A major artifact was found buried within the room-like feature: an intact rural, roadside style mailbox. This mailbox had the name and address of the last occupants of the house that stood on the adjacent lot until it was torn down in 1972.
The tunnel direction changed dramatically beyond the room-like area, turning to a “dogleg” headed acutely eastward. A crucial dilemma was imminent at this point. With only two days left to complete all excavation, there was not time to both explore the full dimensions of the possible room and to follow the ultimate extent of the tunnel. Although important data may well have been missed by not fully exploring the “room”, it was considered more important at that time to redirect full effort to explore the tunnel. It was hoped that the more the tunnel feature could be defined, the more possibilities there would be for making correlations with the eyewitness reports of the children.
In digging out the tunnel fill eastward under the concrete floor, it became apparent that the line of the tunnel continued across Classroom #4 and into the cut through the floor at Unit 1. The width of the tunnel was still about 3 feet. The height of the tunnel feature was unlike the “room” area, returning to the 5 foot, 11 inch average height of the western passageway. Some boards and a few tin cans were still found in the tunnel fill within Unit 2 but they petered out until no more major artifact inclusions were encountered beyond about three fourths of the way across the unit.
The tunnel feature ran completely across Classroom #4, up to the foundation under the dividing wall. The overburden “roof” above the tunnel gradually diminished as the tunnel came closer to the surface until, at the point where the tunnel went under the concrete foundation, there was no soil overburden or roof. Consequently the bottom of the foundation intruded into the tunnel’s roof at that point. At the precise width of the tunnel, at the point where it crossed under the dividing wall between Classrooms #4 and #3, the bottom of the concrete foundation was slightly arched. The depth of the foundation at the centerpoint of the tunnel passage was some 25 inches below the concrete floor. The depth of this foundation, which gave it enormous strength, is curious, given that it supported only a structurally insignificant secondary dividing wall between the two classrooms.
At that point it became obvious that the initial Ground Penetrating Radar survey had actually detected the tunnel at the locus of its crossing under the dividing wall. Indeed, the GPR was successful in detecting the tunnel feature on both sides of the dividing wall beneath the concrete pad floor. The two corresponding anomalies had been the reason to cut through the concrete pad floor to create Classroom #3, Unit 1 and Classroom #4, Unit 2 in the first place. And it was the reason the two units were directly aligned with each other, even though on opposite sides of a then-existing dividing wall.
An unexpected discovery was made in the tunnel directly under the foundation between Classrooms #4 and #3. Four large containers were found in situ standing upright and directly beside each other. Curiously, they were not found on the floor of the tunnel but had been placed on a de facto “platform” of fill halfway up to the arched foundation.
The four containers were comprised of two blue enameled metal cylindrical pots; one tall, cylindrical crockery pot; and one rusted cast iron cauldron. The smaller of the two metal pots had a loose, makeshift handle of twisted wire. The larger metal pot had one original looped metal handle still fixed to one of its sides. The crockery container, stamped “Red Wing Stoneware Co.”, was of a glazed tan color and had a decoration of one cobalt blue leaf and three stems painted on one side.
Further work revealed that the tunnel ran completely under the dividing wall foundation arch and eastward under Classroom #3. Digging backward and downward, it was then possible to observe a profile of the tunnel feature. The bottom of the tunnel was slightly U-shaped and clearly distinguishable from the lighter natural soil matrix below, which unlike the tunnel fill, contained some lighter and darker-colored small areas of rodent burrow disturbances.
Just 12 inches eastward of the dividing wall foundation another profile was defined. The tunnel again had a “roof” of compacted overburden soil. Therefore an inverted U-shaped soil boundary was very clearly defined both in soil color and texture at the top of the tunnel profile.
Unlike the tunnel passages in Classroom #4, there were virtually no inclusions of artifacts in the tunnel fill within Classroom #3. Following the tunnel fill, the team reencountered the area of the metal waste pipe with the shiny pipe joiner clamps previously described. Following the tunnel fill eastward down trench Unit 1, it became apparent that the original tunnel virtually coincided with the size and length of the concrete cutout for that unit. This coincidence was the reason the tunnel was not discovered in the initial excavation of Unit 1. Digging downward precisely within its margins, it had been impossible to visualize the lateral signature of the tunnel.
Summarizing the excavation under Classrooms #3 and #4, there was a clearly defined tunnel whose data conformed to virtually all of the test expectations for the discovery and identification of such a tunnel. Indeed, it had been possible to follow the orientation of the tunnel for some 22 feet in Classroom #4 and for an additional 28 feet where it went in an east/west direction across Classrooms #4 and #3. Thus the explored portion of the tunnel extended for a total of more than 50 feet.
With what little time there was left, attention was directed to Unit 3 of Classroom #3, which contained the intriguing remains of wooden posts. These were found in situ, still in upright positions. Both posts were the remains of 4 x 4″ timbers. The first one had been burnt. The second post was more intact, and only slightly burnt. Due to their relationship parallel to the east wall of the preschool and relative to wood fragments to the north in Unit 2 found earlier by Jerry Hobbs, these posts seemed to be spaced at regular intervals, extending from north to south in classroom #3. They may have been part of a shoring system for an underground passageway, but there was no longer any time to explore for corroborative evidence.
In addition to discoveries underground, there were observations within the building itself which remain unexplained. A stack of twenty or more unused, light brown asphalt tile, appearing to be exactly the same as the tile used throughout the entire interior floor of the preschool, was discovered in the cupboard under the kitchenette sink in the office (p.181). This discovery raised the question of whether or not the floor had been patched, or perhaps replaced in its entirety. Several sections of tile had been removed by the District Attorney’s investigators in 1985 but the black mastic under the tile remained on the concrete slab. In order to check the preschool floor thoroughly for any patches or replaced areas of concrete, all of the tile would have to be removed and then the mastic would have to be sandblasted or chemically removed. Because of financial and time constraints, these ideas were quickly abandoned in favor of trying to locate and identify any tunnels or rooms under the school.
Several days into the project one of the workers noticed that Classroom #3 did not have a door knob (p.182). Instead, there was a single cylinder dead bolt with a flip latch on the inside, with only a keyhole on the outside. Once latched from the inside, there could be no entry to this classroom without a key. The face of this door was obscured from outside view due to its placement within the inside corner of the L shape of the building, recessed behind the north wall of Classroom #2. The absence of any exterior knob was thus undetectable whenever the door was open, since the face of the door backed onto the deadend of the hallway.
Several parents remembered that when they were present at the school during operating hours, the door had always stood open. A mother who had occasion to visit with her two-year-old son stated that whenever she was there the toddler would run into the vacant room and reach for the children’s paint and brushes. The child did this several times and each time the director would scold the mother and tell her it was not safe to let her baby go into the room because there were too many things he could get into. Yet the door was never closed.
The project determined the existence of two extensive tunnel complexes beneath the concrete floor of the McMartin Preschool building. One, toward the south, was consistent with the location and function described by children; it appeared to connect the interior of the preschool with the adjoining triplex structure and it had a distinct signature where it exited under the foundation of the east wall. Since it lacked dateable artifacts and a consistent demarcation of floor profile, it was classified conservatively as a “possible” tunnel.
The feature that conforms scientifically to the predetermined attributes as a tunnel was the complex on the north. This tunnel feature was clearly distinguished from the other subsurface features encountered during our excavations at the site. The northern tunnel feature conformed to virtually all of the test expectations, as follows:
1. An identified entrance;
2. The architecture was both linear and slightly curvilinear;
3. The architecture was large enough for adult human passage;
4. There were characteristic scars indicating that it had been dug by hand;
5. The feature had a compacted dirt floor;
6. The tunnel was found not open;
7. The tunnel had been completely, artificially filled in with fill which was distinguishable on the basis of color, texture and compaction from the original soil depositat the site;
8. The fill contained inclusions in the form of a large number of artifacts;
9. The probabilistic dating of the tunnel can be estimated by recovered artifacts.
The following seven factors determine probable age. First, it is unlikely that the bright, stainless steel straps had been placed on the pipe in 1966, when the structure was built. Second, the placement of the mailbox most probably dates to the time following the destruction of the neighboring house in 1972. Third, the Disney bag has a date of 1983, which indicates that the tunnel fill dates to that time or thereafter. Fourth, the arching of the foundation precisely over the tunnel was obviously a feature made to accommodate the tunnel and there is no other conceivable scenario to account for it. Fifth, the four large containers which were placed by hand into the tunnel fill indicate the use of the tunnel after the preschool was built. Given their position under the foundation, there is no possibility that they would not have been knocked out of place and their intact glass bottle and jar contents broken when the trench was excavated in 1966 for the pouring of the concrete foundation. Sixth, the ceiling of the tunnel was simply too shallow to have withstood human foot traffic on it in an unprotected state. If the tunnel feature had existed prior to the construction of the preschool, its covering or roof would have been so shallow that a person walking on the surface would have easily caved it in, thus exposing the tunnel. Finally, the soil deposit at this part of the property had been put into place and compacted at the time of the building construction. Therefore any holes or openings found in that area extending up to or near the surface would necessarily date to a time after 1966.
Therefore, given the evidence of the seven factors above, the time of the construction and use of the tunnel postdates 1966.
This report describes the efforts of a group of parents to explore the meaning of several issues raised by their children after attending the McMartin Preschool. Reports of the existence of underground passageways had not been confirmed in the limited exploration conducted by the office of the District Attorney. At the first opportunity of private access to the preschool property, these parents secured permission from the new owner to search more extensively for pertinent information. By engaging a highly recommended professional archaeological team, they hoped to bring scientific authority to whatever might be found or a definitive resolution for whatever was not to be found.
The present project started where the earlier investigation left off, re-examining the previous digs outside the school structure, using new technology to survey for possible anomalies beneath the floor of the structure, and then actually cutting through the concrete floor and scientifically evaluating the consistency and integrity of the underlying soil.
The results of the survey by Ground Penetrating Radar proved consistent with discoveries of the subsequent excavations, all of which confirmed not only the basic descriptions of children but also specific details of location, interior features and putative function.
The McMartin Tunnel Project confirms that a functional pattern of tunnels once existed under the McMartin Preschool, that the tunnels provided access outside the walls of the structure, that they must have been constructed after the structure was built in 1966, and that they were subsequently completely repacked with extraneous soil and implanted artifacts at some time prior to May, 1990. While this project had no way of determining who dug these tunnels, or for what purpose, the discoveries stand in stark contrast to the skeptical position that the children only imagined what they described as activities underground.
If the stories of the children were bogus fantasies, there is no excuse for the tunnels discovered under the school. If there really were tunnels, there is no excuse for the glib dismissal of any and all of the complaints of the children and their parents.
Langenwalter, Paul E., Kevin Peter, Jane King, and Robert Beer, 1985. Report on a forensic archaelogical investigation conducted at the Goldstein property at Manhattan Beach, California. Report prepared for the Los Angeles County District Attorney. Unpublished report on file at the contracted firm of Scientific Resource Surveys, Inc., Huntington Beach, California, and at the Office of the District Attorney.
Stickel, E. Gary, 1979. More on Theory Building in Archaeology. Current Anthropology, Vol. 10, pp. 621-622.
deMause, Lloyd, “Why Cults Terrorize and Kill Children” The Journal of Psychohistory 21 (4) 1994  http://ritualabuse.us/ritualabuse/articles/why-cults-terrorize-and-kill-children-lloyd-demause-the-journal-of-psychohistory/
“In addition, some of authors of false memory hooks also turned out to be pedophile advocates. For example, one of the most widely cited books claiming that cult abuse reports were mass hysteria is Paul and Shirley Eberle’s The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool trial.(6) Taken quite seriously by reviewers and widely quoted In later magazine articles as authoritative, the book makes such claims as that the over 100 McMartin children who reported they had been abused by a cult were all “brainwashed” and the mothers were all “hysterical” and that it was meaningless that physicians found three-quarters of the children bore physical evidence that corroborated their stories. What reviewers didn’t mention was that the Eberles had been called “the most prolific publishers of child pornography in the United States” by Sgt. Toby Tyler, a San Bernadino deputy sheriff who is a nationally recognized expert on child pornography.(7) Their kiddie porn material that I have seen and the articles they have published such as “I Was a Sexpot at Five” and “Little Lolitas” Included illustrations of children involved in sodomy and oral copulation and featured pornographic photos of the Eberles.”
6. Paul and Shirley Eberle, The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial. New York: Prometheus Books, 1993.
7. The Tampa Tribune-Times, July 25, 1993, p.10.
Gould, C. (1995). Denying ritual abuse of children. Journal of Psychohistory, 22(3), 329-339. http://ritualabuse.us/ritualabuse/articles/denying-ritual-abuse-of-children-catherine-gould/
“Corroboration and eyewitness accounts offered by children should also be given serious attention when therapists and investigators can demonstrate that no contamination of the children’s disclosures has taken place. In the case studied by Jonker and Jonker-Bakker (1991), children from different schools and different locales gave accounts of perpetrators, abuse locations, and abusive acts that were mutually corroborating. Accounts of tunnels under the McMartin preschool given by children claiming to have been ritually abused at the school were fully corroborated when the existence and location of the tunnels were documented by a professional team of archaeologists (Summit, 1994).”
“How can it be that, with significant numbers of criminal convictions of perpetrators of ritual abuse and laws against ritual abuse on the books in a growing number of states, with the clinical data amassed by thousands of therapists in the United States and internationally, with physical evidence like the tunnels found under the McMartin preschool corroborating children’s reports of abuse, that we cannot reach a consensus that ritual abuse constitutes a serious problem for us as a nation, and demands to be addressed? Why is it that media accounts of ritual abuse are often filled with so much obfuscation that the public is left wondering whether ritual abuse might not in fact be the “urban myth” or “mass hysteria” that certain skeptics have made a virtual career out of saying that it is?”
McMartin Preschool Story – from http://ritualabuse.us/2008/10/issue-37-march-2001/
Interview of Jackie MacGauley, mother of one of the McMartin Preschool children
Do you have any proof and references that the children at McMartin were abused?
We were in court for 7 years. Still the longest trial in U.S. history. My daughter and hundreds of people I know deal with the aftermath on a daily basis. Our children’s medical reports and the tunnels which corroborated one of the most ‘fantastic stories’ the children recounted. The tunnels are documented in a formal report now located at a Law University. The most compelling proof was living with my daughter and dealing with all of her revelations and fears.
Why were the defendants declared not guilty?
The jury very clearly stated that the prosecution did not prove their case. The jurors were convinced that someone did commit the crime. One juror said she would have liked to have heard more from the children. All 7 defendants were held over for trial after the pretrial. Criminal counts were added. Before the trial, when the case was not assigned to a courtroom or judge, District Attorney Ira Reiner decided to drop 5 of the defendants. A memo cited that he did not want any of “These kinds of cases anymore.” About 10 other preschools were closed, but there could be no arrests without any possibility of prosecution. It was becoming an embarrassment to his office. I was told by a witness family that one defendant had enough counts and enough evidence to be tried, but Mr. Reiner felt the case would not be successful if he included her. A mother/son situation seemed like a more plausible story. Some child witnesses refused to testify when parents saw how the children were treated on the witness stand by the 7 defense attorneys. Some families were still willing to testify but were never even notified that they were no longer needed.
How do you feel about the media and their involvement in the case and after the case?
At first I was amazed at the attention we got. This is a small town and it involved only a few local families, I thought at the time. I never really did understand why it mushroomed as it did. I ask experts and they give different explanations. Dr. Underwager was speaking out on behalf of the defendants in Jordan, Minnesota. Janet Reno was D.A. in Miami during the Countrywalk case. She won the case when Illiana Fuster testified against her convicted murderer husband, Frank Fuster. The giant Bakersfield case and others started well before the McMartin case.
The media likes to report things that they know will sell their newspapers rather than reality. What happened in court was far from representative of the reality of the crime. Moral of this story, do NOT believe much of what you hear or read in the media.
Do you believe there were tunnels at McMartin? What proof can you offer to verify this?
You are asking the person who actually did the project. We heavily documented our findings in photographs, scientists’ reports and analysis. There were also an abundance of witnesses, including the media. The formal report is housed at a University Law Library at the moment.
If you do believe the allegations at McMartin were true, how long do you believe they were going on? What evidence do you have for this?
My daughter attended the school for 4 months in (Sept through January when it closed) 1982-1983. The most recent allegations began in August, 1982 when Judy Johnson took her 3 year old son to a doctor who reported it to the authorities.
A lot of us parents still talk about what happened. A friend of mine was Mayor during that time. We still console each other over what happened. A lot of us still feel totally disgusted with the whole thing. Compelling (and corroborating) evidence for me and her family and Doctor was a friend who was 44 when she died last October. She was in the second class ever given at the old location, about 1958. Her psychiatrist introduced her to me in 1984.
Do you know about anyone writing articles trying to disprove the allegations at McMartin, and why do you feel they would do this? Do you have any evidence for this?
Some V.O.C.A.L., False Memory Syndrome type affiliates seem to make it a regular task to discredit our children. Their opinions have seeped into popular journalism and, I understand, are used as fact. If you want some good background on how this all began, start with Jan Hollingsworth’s book “Unspeakable Acts” for some fantastic documentation of the perp’s games. Another highly recommended book is “The Battle and the Backlash” by David Hechler.
“Since the Eberles’ first McMartin book appeared in 1989, they have achieved national status as child abuse experts. In courts of law their work is frequently cited, and they lecture widely to receptive audiences. The Eberles once appeared as featured speakers at a conference held by Victims of Child Abuse Laws (VOCAL), an organization that feted “The Politics Of Child Abuse” as positively revelatory….Blurbs in their own pornographic tabloid, L.A. Star, failed to mention that in the 1970s the authors once ran an underground tabloid for pedophiles in Los Angeles, Finger, which delved heavily into sadomasochistic sex, sex with children and sex acts involving human excrement. Finger contained sexual drawings by children and pedophile erotica…”
Summit, R.C. (1994). “The Dark Tunnels of McMartin” Journal of Psychohistory 21 (4): 397-416.
Roland Summit is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (Building D-6, 1000 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA 90509). He has been the community psychiatrist to the South Bay area of Los Angeles County since 1966, specializing exclusively in child sexual abuse since 1975. He was assigned the role of county Department of Mental Health Liaison to the community of Manhattan Beach in the wake of the 1983-84 epidemic of preschool abuse allegations.
The subject of ritual cult abuse of children is so loathsome and provocative that it is at risk of being regarded only in extremes. Those drawn into believing that there is such a thing become fascinated and terrified by its limitless implications while those who remain skeptical seem determined to quash and disqualify any evidence that it might exist. Most of those who believe have been personally touched and emotionally moved by association with alleged victims, while the skeptics enjoy the luxury of analyzing the phenomena in retrospect from a distance that passes for objectivity. Both sides of this divergent drift seem reluctant to acknowledge a possible intermediate reality: that while some aspects of the accounts are patently impossible, there remains an elusive core of sadistic obscenity.
It should be obvious that any possibility of such inconceivable and invisible cruelty must be confronted and understood before we as a people can move ahead to define the real dimensions of human experience and the remarkable complexities of personal and collective psychohistory. Considering the potential benefits of that confrontation-new insight into alienation, despair, rage, violence, dissociation, and the vagaries of memory and of ultimate accountability – it is all the more remarkable and lamentable that scholars are willing to harp at the extremes (worldwide satanic subversion versus therapist-induced hysteria) rather than to delve into the common ground of human perversity and deliberate psychic trauma.
The distractive, polarizing debate is renewed in David Lotto’s opening challenge in this scholarly Journal of Psychohistory (1). Must we start with witches and witch hunts? Should we cancel the message by attacking the character of the messengers? Can we define history by assigning cause and effect to untested post hoc connections?
Dr. Lotto traces the origin of ritual cult abuse survivor stories to 1980, with the patient/therapist collaboration of Michelle Remembers.(2) Such attribution of cause and effect is no less magical than assigning the power of spring time to the first crocus. And how is it relevant that Dr. Pazder divorced his wife and married his former patient, or that the psychologist who “interrogated” Ileana Fuster before her testimony in the Country Walk prosecution had himself been imprisoned for sexual assault of his clients? Such ad hominem examples assign a moral defect to the entire class of professionals who elicit lurid confessions from their clients. The credibility of every informant is similarly trashed by the droning presumption that they are all either infantile, mentally ill, or locked in a folie a deux with misguided therapists.
If post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments are to be honored, and if an author is to be equally empathic with all the players, one might consider that McMartin whistle blower Judy Johnson’s psychotic break and alcoholic toxicity were precipitated by, rather than precipitants of, her desperate concern that she and her not-quite three-yr-old son were victims of unfathomable treachery. Having met Ms. Johnson in February, 1984, I am convinced of the first option. Judy Johnson was quite sane and emotionally contained even as she described the improbable complaints of her child “He doesn’t like to talk about being buried alive or about large animals or that he was sodomized by a lion”. (3) Such complaints were unheard of in 1984, but they made more sense as older, less credulous children in the Netherlands (1987), England (1988) and North Carolina (1989) made quite independent observations that the wild animals had zippers on their costumes.
It is painful even to contemplate the stresses this young mother tried to endure during the succeeding years. She had always been an anomaly among McMartin parents, an outsider without access to the supportive social groups that had patronized the preschool. She was alienated from her husband and increasingly reclusive in a small house with her two children, one a putative victim of a formless conspiracy and the other dying of a brain malignancy. She barricaded herself against the menacing strangers who patrolled her yard. Who knows if they were intimidating conspirators or toxic hallucinations? Her hyperprotective stance toward her children warranted protective service and mental health intervention and she was hospitalized briefly. I did not recognize Judy Johnson the last time I saw her alive, in the summer of l986 she was bloated and somewhat incoherent, visibly damaged.
The extensive criminal investigation and the evidence selected by prosecutors for the McMartin trials had nothing to do with information gained from Judy or her child. Nor did she galvanize parental group hysteria. She lived and died an outsider in Manhattan Beach society. She was fair game for the posthumous recreation as the cause of it all. For the successful theory of defense and in the legacy of two mistrials she became the icon of hysterical misconception, the Chicken Little of a bird-brained gaggle of malicious parents. For those who knew her through those harried years she was the perfect embodiment of a sad truth: the individual who is suspicious enough to uncover a perfectly hidden evil will have to shoulder the blame for the chaos that is bound to follow. (4)
The Miami Country Walk convictions, featured in Dr. Lotto’s argument as a miscarriage of justice, are ripe for attack because they stand in the way of a backlash sweep. The case has remained as the most demonstrably real and potentially understandable of all the ritual prosecutions to date. Investigators found physical evidence, including photographs of unmistakeable fecal fetishism showing Frank Fuster’s wife and child soiled with feces. The crucifix described by the children as the instrument of Fuster’s bloody demonstrations of the rape of Ileana was found under the mattress of their bed. Frank Fuster’s own child described the private, utterly sadistic torture he and Ileana endured apart from the other children in their care. The case was not burdened with allegations of hooded strangers, satanic ceremonies, birth rituals or infant sacrifice; children described the stuff of exorbitant human perversity.
The Country Walk case is unique for the information and testimony gained from a co-defendant, but Ileana’s dramatic turnabout was not the pivotal element for the jury. Ileana decided to testify, at the urging of her attorney and with no plea bargain with prosecutors, only after jurors were reduced to tears in response to viewing the entirety of the videotaped interviews with the children. Earlier, Ileana had shown a slave-like loyalty to her husband. Her deposition just prior to testimony described a dismally recognizable pattern of teenage sexual enslavement: deception, kidnap, rape-marriage, perverse humiliation and torture imposed by her husband before he presented her to his Country Walk neighbors as an adult specialist in child care. When she finally renounced him in the courtroom, she was like a child cringing in terror against all-powerful retaliation.
The skepticism encouraged by the woeful lack of physical evidence in typical multivictim, sadistic sexual abuse cases can be artificially hyped by the double standard applied to victim disclosures: claims of the improbable are logically rejected while retractions are uncritically embraced as definitive. Recollections of unspeakable trauma are said to be distorted by dissociation or implanted by suggestion while denials are literally endorsed. The most misleading aspect of Dr. Lotto’s apparently sophisticated and psychologically enlightened opening article is its adherence to that simple and socially reassuring double standard. He dismisses Ileana’s elaborate and self-jeopardizing description of her as coached and coerced while her continuing selfjustification is advanced as the argument not only for her own innocence but for the exculpation of her codefendant.
Ileana couched her confession within a contradictory assertion of innocence. Such ambivalence and confusion invite psychological considerations beyond a simple truth-or-lie dichotomy. Instead, Dr. Lotto chooses one side of that uncertainty to nullify the judgment of the jury, the parents, and the children. But dissociation cuts both ways; if victims of unspeakable acts cannot accurately own the reality of their experience, can we insist that the accused are perfectly in touch with and accountable for their unspeakable actions?
When I had occasion to talk with Ileana Fuster after her testimony, she was irate in her self-defense, but more telling in the psychological complexity of her dilemma. I had asked her how it was that she had so perfectly protested her innocence, and how she had passed the polygraphs if she had done the things she described. “I didn’t do those things,” she protested,”I couldn’t do things like that. I’m not that kind of person! Frank made me do them.”
Who is to blame for the explosion of strange stories of sexual sadism? How are are we to interpret the quixotic reversals of ambivalent assertions? If we can’t consider some core of truth without physical proof, can we allow contrived “reasonable explanations” to prove everything is false? The reasonable explanations have proliferated in the wake of unreasonable allegations. That response is clearly opportunistic of the status quo, supported by no more relevant or verifiable evidence than the precipitating alarms. A jury found Frank Fuster guilty, beyond a reasonable doubt, of incredibly obscene behavior. Investigative reporters, on a demonstrated mission to debunk “satanic panic,” have proclaimed him innocent. (5)
In his conclusion Dr. Lotto discounts the traumatic consequences for innumerable children as he defines Frank Fuster along with those accused in the McMartin trials as “the very real victims, innocent of any wrongdoing, who have suffered traumatic consequences from being caught up in a net of hysterical accusations.”
Who are we to be so sure of anything in the unresolved confusion of ritual allegations? How can we tolerate preemptive conclusions before we have examined the most rudimentary questions? If criminal conviction of defendants is not only irrelevant but prejudicial to the credibility of the complaining witness, what will it take to re-examine the potential reality of these unwelcome complaints?
Would additional material evidence vindicate the merely testimonial proofs already rejected? If Judy Johnson’s concern for underground terror, or the McMartin children’s claims of tunnels under the preschool had solid verification, would that make a difference? The tunnels, were, in fact, found in 1990, only to be met with massive indifference.
Parents and therapists began hearing children’s descriptions of underground activities within months of their initial, more conservative disclosures. Children described tunnels under the floor of the preschool which led to an outside exit under the rabbit hutch, and another underground passage to the neighboring building. They explained they would be loaded into vehicles in the garage of that building for transport to other locations of group ritual. They described also a secret room accessed by the tunnels under the preschool.
As in other cases, such claims proved an embarrassing red herring for investigators. In common with descriptions of murder and pornography, they promise discovery of the tantalizing smoking gun, the concrete evidence that would confirm what might otherwise be dismissed as infantile fantasies. When there are no bodies or blood, or when the photos and videotapes can not be displayed, these “fish that got away” tend to cast doubt on the veracity of the more modest claims, no matter how plausible and recognizable the initial disclosures might have been. Since the elusive fish are also descriptive of the most threatening and grandiose scenarios-cult ritual with human sacrifice, pornographic exhibitions, profiteering in organized crime-they also precipitate an angry rift between believers and skeptics, especially between parents and police. Parents become preoccupied by the terrifying implications of these larger dimensions of victimization while police, trained to avoid speculation in the absence of evidence, view parents as alarmist and irrational in their naive credulity.
Priorities of prosecution further widen the rift. Child molestation is a recognizable crime which can proceed to conviction on the unsupported testimony of its victims. Religious ritual is constitutionally exempt from prejudicial harassment. In the absence of adult informants and incontrovertible evidence of criminal activities, the implications of multiperpetrator conspiracies, occult networks of religious fanatics-even the very existence of an undiscovered class of grotesque criminality-become ridiculous impediments to any hope of conviction. Parents see their children as spiritually mutilated while prosecutors seek refuge in the familiar confines of sexual touching. Lacking support from the institutions of justice, the more inventive parents will pursue their own investigations and develop their own conclusions, increasingly indifferent to the restrictions of conventional logic and restraint. Any information gained through such vigilant research is an embarrassment to the constraints of prosecution.
Such was the course of the McMartin investigation. A small assemblage of the most assertive parents pressured the district attorney to search for the tunnels and to find the off-campus locations where babies were slaughtered. When they met with stonewalling the parents began their own forays in the neighborhood. Children led them to a mortuary/crematory where they claimed to have pummeled dead bodies and watched people burn. Parents were convinced that interior decorating confirmed the identity with details anticipated by children’s descriptions (6)
Prosecutors received such information with resentment and distrust. It was both outside an acceptable chain of evidence and alien to what they could reasonably charge.
In order to force the prosecutor’s hands on the tunnel question, parents commissioned a backhoe one Saturday (March 16, 1985) and began digging in the lot next to the preschool, where children described the burial of sacrificial animals. The district attorney’s office them commissioned a limited archaeological survey of the site. The net effect of that effort was to disclaim any unusual underground activity. Although all of the digging was outside of the building, with no attempt to cut through the concrete slab floor of the preschool itself, the officials declared there were no tunnels on the site.
Although ritual elements were deliberately excluded from prosecution, defense attorneys ridiculed the willingness of therapists and parents to support the bizarre conspiracy theories implied by the children. A boy who had testified for prosecutors only about sexual touching responded to defense cross – examination with a typically grandiose, tough-kid description of physically lifting a body from an open grave. Other child witnesses described satanic weddings in neighborhood churches.
Prosecutors had two choices: Containment or chaos. Either the children experienced only sexual molestation at the hands of defendant employees within the McMartin Preschool itself, and they only imagined the tunnels, or someone had dug an escape route to an unrecognizable underworld of sex and death orgies. Prosecutors took the simple choice and thereby deferred to the skeptics, agreeing that children imagined the strange things-but they really were molested. The jury found the defense explanation more reasonable: a demonstratably crazy woman had initiated a satanic witch hunt which was swept into absurd illusion through leading questions from therapists and hysterical reinforcement by parents eager to put themselves in the limelight of the case of the century.
After more than five years of glaring public exposure and 33 consecutive months of the longest and most expensive trial in history, the verdicts of January 8, 1990 left most parents angry and confused but at least reconciled to a return to private life. The willingness of a few to protest the failure of prosecution on television talk shows exposed them to a peculiar kind of vilification. They were the perfect scapegoats for a small band of investigative journalists out to save the world from superstitious nonsense. The backlash gospel is simple: Those who trumpet the hazards of ritual abuse are the ones responsible for creating it. And they should be punished.
The decision (to retry Raymond Buckey on the undecided counts) came after a period of grotesque agitation by the parents of the supposedly abused McMartin children. They appeared on talk shows, and terrorized Los Angeles Board of County Supervisors into voting 4 to 1 to urge the district attorney to a new trial.
So now the McMartin parents can triumphantly torture poor Ray Buckey again, abetted by the cowards and opportunists in the justice system. But if people can be prosecuted on the words of children, then children should take full responsibility for what they are saying. If a child says he saw Ray Buckey kill a horsewith a baseball bat (which one did claim) and if this charge is disproved (which it was), then the child should be indicted for perjury, with present prohibition against such infant indictment removed.
If a parent abetted the child in this false accusation, then this parent should be indicted for perjury, too. If the court then establishes that parent and child were lying, at least the parent should suffer the consequences. A few well-publicized sentences of imprisonment of parents (along with “therapists” and social workers, it goes without saying) and we would see a speedy end to these disgusting miscarriages of justice. (7)
THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL PROJECT
Despite such pervasive scapegoating and predictable attrition, a few parents remained alert to some hope of vindicating their children. The opportunity came in April, 1990 with permission from the new owner of the preschool to search for the tunnels before he demolished the building and redeveloped the property These soiled but solid citizens managed to find what the district attorney had disclaimed: solid, scientific evidence that someone had not only dug tunnels under the preschool, but also had taken the trouble to try to undo them. The results of this definitive excavation are described in meticulous detail in the 185 page Report of the Archaeological Excavation of the McMartin Preschool Site by E. Gary Stickel, Ph.D., the UCLA archaeologist commissioned to do the study. (8)
My experience of the human background of this technical report adds insight into the difficulty of establishing proof beyond reasonable doubt of improbable claims, especially from a grass roots level of interest. On first gaining permission, parents began digging in the closet (in the northeast corner of classroom #3) described by children as the entrance to a tunnel leading to the secret room (see Figure 1, marked Unit 2). They found flecks of matching paint in the dirt they removed, which could have proved that a shaft had once been open to the closet above but their amateur efforts left open the possibility that those vital markers had merely fallen into the hold during their own excavation.
Such ambiguity led to some dissension among the parents and the burdensome decision to commission a professional, scientific study. From that point, established April 21, 1990, the project was impeded both by a conspicuous absence of funds and a diminishing number of participating parents. The financial and organizational responsibility settled on only one parent, Jackie McGauley, who, not unlike her one-time friend, Judy Johnson, is a single parent of two children, struggling to make ends meet, without traditional ties to other McMartin parental circles. Even the post-traumatic camaraderie that had once defined a larger parental affiliation had long since dissipated into somewhat alienated factions critical of one another for their divergent responses to the experience (9)
This left just one person responsible for soliciting funding for the project itself and the production of the report, with no apparent institution or avenue available for ultimate publication and distribution. Commercial publishers have a ready market for outrageously opinionated books like Paul and Shirley Eberles’ The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial. (10) Such revisionist manifestos proclaim a conspiracy of misguided prosecutors, therapists and parents as the sole abusers of the children. Who will pay for a dry, scholarly treatise that only implies that something monstrous really happened, especially if the report is promoted by the last remaining parental zealot? There is no really legitimate institution for rehabilitation of children’s’s stifled complaints of mysterious exploitation.
AND THE CHILDREN SHALL LEAD THEM
At least one child had a voice in the archaeological project. Time was running out before the bulldozers would obliterate the site and there seemed to be no trace of the children’s secret room. Joanie (11) 12 years old, was visiting her old preschool with her mother. Dr. Stickel asked her,”Can you tell us where it was that you entered the tunnels and which way you turned?” Joanie gave a meticulous description of every step along the way. Starting from the parents’ dig in the northeast corner of classroom #3, she described being lifted down a hole, turning right, going straight past the roots that brushed your face, turning right again where you were hurried through the long tunnel. “I liked to stop where the pipe was and swing on it. There was a little boy who couldn’t reach the pipe, and sometimes I’d lift him up so he could touch it. But right after that you had to duck down so you wouldn’t hit your head on the cement, then you had to run again to get to the secret room.”
Part of the course Joanie described corresponded to twin anomalies which had been detected earlier by ground penetrating radar. Corresponding openings had been cut in the concrete (Unit 1, classroom 3 and Unit 2, classroom 4, see Figure 1) but nothing unusual had been found. Encouraged now by Joanie’s explicit directions, the archaeologist extended the dimensions of the Unit 1 dig and discovered an interface of contrasting soil. The concrete cutout had matched the side walls of the tunnel so perfectly that the earlier dig had passed right through the filled-in tunnel without ever distinguishing its margins. Now that the profile of contrasting soil was defined the tunnel could be reopened with precision. It proceeded westward beneath a cast iron waste pipe, just as Joanie had described, and then passed under the deep concrete foundation of the wall separating classrooms #3 and #4. At the point where the tunnel passed under the foundation, and only at that point, the concrete had been arched upward and worn smooth, in contrast to the adjacent ragged contours and texture assumed by concrete poured into an earthbottomed trench. Under the classroom to the west the tunnel proceeded into a wide, room-like potential space of contrasting earth fill bearing remnants of timber, plywood and tar paper which appeared to have shored up the ceiling of a “secret” room. All this had been implied for years by numerous children and anticipated on the spot by Joanie.
There was no time to determine the entire parameters of the room-like space, but there was enough excavation to show that it was 6 feet 8 inches high and at least 9 feet in diameter, and that it connected through the predicted transit pattern to a previously discovered tunnel artifact turning to the north and exiting under the foundation of the west wall of the building, where the rabbit hutch used to be. Although this landmark had been a target for the first parental back-hoe expedition and the District Attorney’s archaeological search, and although those previous excavations partially obscured the outer feature, two of the project’s most definitive items were found just inside of the western foundation. One was a tree root that had originally grown across the path of the exit tunnel before being sawed away. The proximal section of that root, still feeding the distant avocado tree, had partially healed and sent out new sprouts where it had been cut some years before. The distal section, isolated at the other side of the exist, was withered and dead.
Beneath the floor of the exit, inside of the vertical plane of the foundation in fill undisturbed by the earlier excavations, a plastic lunch bag was found bearing the date of its distribution; “DISNEY CLASS 82/83,” also printed “c1982 Walt Disney Productions.” Except for some kind of clandestine intrusion, nothing in that location could have been newer than September, 1966, when the foundation was poured.
Besides being different in color, texture and compaction from the surrounding matrix, the dirt which filled the tunnel spaces varied in composition along the length of the tunnel itself, always at odds with the adjacent, indigenous soil. The western extremities of the fill, including the room-like space, were peppered with a kind of trash pit debris: old cans and bottles dating from the twenties through the fifties, as if to establish a provenance antedating the 1966 construction of the preschool building itself.
The most conspicuous and naturally inexplicable items were found placed exactly under the concrete arch between the two classrooms. These were four large containers, two enameled iron pots, a crockery jar, and a cast iron cauldron, arranged together in an upright position, resting not where the floor would have been but halfway up to the ceiling. There was no theoretical explanation for such location except that they were placed deliberately within a pre-existing, half-filled trench or tunnel. If all the artifacts represented random scatter of trash on an earlier dump site, as some skeptics have asserted, there is no justification for their exclusive delineation within a discrete pattern of tunnels or trenches. And if such conspicuous items as the four large containers had been littered on a dump site, they would not have survived clustered, upright and unbroken through the subsequent grading and levelling of the preschool site.
The pattern of tunnels conformed to the architecture of the overlying building but had absolutely no purpose or conformity to expected trenching for foundations or utilities. In fact, the profile of the shallow trench dug to accommodate the waste pipe leading across the main tunnel (Joanie’s reach-up- and-touch pipe) was clearly distinguishable as mechanically dug, showing the sharp angulation characteristic of a backhoe, whereas the tunnels had a rounded floor contour and shovel marks, showing that they had been dug by hand, presumably under the pre-existing concrete. The stainless steel pipe clamps joining an angle of the pipe where it crossed through the tunnel space had a different quality from clamps elsewhere which had remained buried since installation. The other clamps were corroded from years of soil contact, while those crossing the tunnel looked shiny and new.
Other features fell into uncanny, perversely predictable patterns, but scientific documentation was less definitive for lack of time or lacking permission to extend the excavations. There were roots protruding into the fill where Joanie had predicted, along with a linear succession of rotting posts that might have shored that portion of the tunnel (Marked 2 and 3 in Unit 3, Classroom 3, Figure 1)
There was tentative identification of a shaft and horizontal passage at the south-east end of the building, where children described going from the closet to the building next door. A discrete tunnel could be defined on the basis of differential fill and interruption of tree roots, leading under the eastern wall and several feet beyond the property line toward the adjacent triplex building (Figure 1). Owners of the property refused permission for further excavation, so the actual terminus of that tunnel feature remains open to speculation.
On May 29, 1990, I was invited to inspect the excavations. A district attorneys representative looked in from the surface, never soiling his suit to observe the demonstrated profiles of contrasting soil nor crawling under walls to appreciate the extent and utility of those potential tunnels. Prosecutors were at that time locked into the retrial, trying unsuccessfully to prove the few deadlocked counts of sexual molestation against a lone defendant. No one in authority could possibly want to reopen old wounds of putative conspiracy.
The bulldozer moved in that afternoon and quickly smashed the stucco building into splinters and dust. I have always wondered since that day why such a flimsy structure needed a 29-inch deep foundation to support a non-weight-bearing partition between two classrooms. The four-inch slab itself would have been code-sufficient. Could it have been designed as a strong-back girder over future sub-slab excavations? There is no sensible explanation better than Joanie’s naive observation than it was there to bump your head on. Dr. Stickel’s report (p.95) concludes:
There is no other scenario that fits all of the facts except that the feature was indeed a tunnel. The date of the construction and use of the tunnel was not absolutely established, but an assessment of seven factors of data all indicate that it was probably constructed, used and completely filled back in after 1966 (the construction date of the preschool). This age assessment has also been corroborated by the consulting Geologist for the project, Dr. Don Michael…
People magazine sent a reporter to interview Dr. Stickel. She reported to headquarters the remarkable misunderstanding that the project found nothing. Hearing this I called Dr. Stickel, who was dumbfounded: “I told her the children said there were tunnels and we found tunnels. It was as simple as that.” With some inside pressure, the magazine researched a more definitive appraisal of the project but it was bumped by more urgent priorities of space, perhaps by an unexpected celebrity marriage or divorce.
Dr. Stickel, Jackie McGauley, another patent and two now-adolescent McMartin children were brought face-to-face with debunking authors Paul and Shirley Eberele and defense attorney Danny Davis for the Maury Povich Show, broadcast June 21, 1993. In response to all the complicated and sometimes explosive arguments which erupted during that hour, Mr. Povich met Dr. Stickel’s description of the tunnels with the perfect dismissal: “What are we saying? Any *hard* evidence that abuse took place in these tunnels?” (emphasis his) (12)
At this point in the vastly larger, festering issue of ritual abuse, there is little hope of hard evidence for anything, especially for specific, ultimately trivial issues of individual criminal culpability. Frank Fuster’s conviction served best to excite more ingenious efforts toward blaming the victims. In the absence of a published tunnel report, the last word in print remains with award-winning Debbie Nathan:
The McMartin School was painstakingly proved for tunnels (by the District Attorney). None were found…(The McMartin) parents have invested years believing in demonic conspiracies and underground nursery tunnels. (Until recently the parents were still digging. They came up with Indian artifacts). They have spoken unremittingly of such things, to the world and to their sons and daughters. They have told their children, over and over, that they were abused, then rewarded them for being traumatized. They have put them in therapy with adult fanatics who have done the same, and enrolled them as guinea pigs in the “research” projects of zealots.
The McMartin kids, and hundreds of others in ritual abuse spinoffs across the country, have spent years trapped in clans whose identity derives from a tent-revival belief in their children’s imagined victimization. (13)
The McMartin Tunnels are just one more example of the continuing uncovering of evidence of a bizarre and industrious dedication to deception. The tunnels should raise serious questions against the reassuring premise that no one would go to such elaborate lengths to entrap children into illicit control. If the therapists were to blame, and they implanted only stories of tunnels, then who planted the pots in Joanie’s runway? The continuing obscurity of this potentially provocative archaeological discovery should give the lie to another reassurance: if things like this went on it would be impossible to hide the evidence. It is not so much that the evidence is difficult to hide as that we as a just and fair society are incapable of seeing it.
Judy Johnson saw blood on her infant’s diaper and has paid a terrible price for trying to find how it got there. Other McMartin parents, now distilled down to the essence of one, tried to find evidence for their children’s complaints, only to be reviled as a malicious threat to world serenity. Jackie McGauley has a hard-won documentation of physical evidence to share. Who will buy it?
1. David Lotto, “On Witches and Witch Hunts,” this issue.
2. Michelle Smith and Lawrence Pazder , Michelle Remembers, New York: Congdon & Lattes Inc. 1980
3. Notes of an office consultation with Judy Johnson, February 9, 1984
4. It is no accident that the person who blows the whistle on previously unsuspected and unprecedented extremes of abuse proves to be especially vulnerable to ad hominem attack. It takes an eccentric, potentially alienated personality style to over-ride the shared reassurances of more comfortably socialized peers. All forms of child sexual abuse have been protected by what Jean Goodwin has called the shared negative hallucination among clinicians and other opinion makers in respected authority, who will not perceive abuse when they confront it. (Credibility problems in multiple personality disorder patients and abused children. In: Childhood Antecedents of Multiple personality, ed. R.P. Kluft. Washington: American Psychiatric Press, 1985, pp. 2-19). As Suzzen Sgroi observed at the dawning of the current wave of discovery, “Unfortunately willingness to consider the diagnosis of suspected child sexual molestation frequently seems to vary in inverse proportion to the individual’s level of training. That is, the more advanced the training of some, the less willing they are to suspect molestation” (p. 20, Sexual molestation of children: The last frontier in child abuse. Children Today 4: May-June, 1975, pp. 18-21,44).
In the many multi-victim cases I have studied, there is a prodromal pattern of parental group denial before an eccentric outsider triggers a threshold of recognition. Concerned parents are reassured by “reasonable explanations” for potential indicators of abuse. Nylon underwear, bubble baths, constipation, masturbation, self-exploration “explain” genito-rectal inflammation, even foreign objects in the vagina. Conventional, well-socialized parents (and professionals) receive these reassurances with relief, repeating and reinforcing them among one another in extended circles. It remains for the odd one, the unsocialized outsider to pursue the nagging suspicion that the authorities could be wrong and to develop an arrogant, quasi-paranoid reliance on personal, intuitive belief. Such a person is easily stigmatized as eccentric and unreliable, if not crazy. The absence of authoritative substantiation leaves each successive believer dependent on a reversal of the old standard of evidence: seeing is believing; if I hadn’t believed it I wouldn’t have seen it.
Judy Johnson was not only an eccentric but something of an irritant in Manhattan Beach society; she was at war with the local school board to acquire home care for her ailing older son. She was distrustful of doctors and devoted to holistic notions of diet and health. It was this very eccentricity which led her to go out of town for university confirmation of her suspicions of sexual abuse after local doctors dismissed them. It was that young child’s isolation from medical contact that led the mother to the telling question and which confirmed the truth of the child’s answer.
When I asked Ms. Johnson during the February 8, 1984 office visit how she discovered “David’s” abuse, she explained, “It just grew with me. He had such discomfort with school. He cried every noon. But (the school director) warned me that if I gave in to him I’d always be a slave to his whims. He kept trying to give me a shot. I’m a very organic person and he had no contact with shots. I took him to the doctor for the redness and he said it was either from constipation or worms. Then I saw the blood and I knew he was sodomized. But my friends assured me that kids are very anal. I asked David several times if (his teacher) put his penis in his rectum. He always said ‘no’. Then later it occurred to me to ask, “David, did (your teacher) give you a shot in your bottom?” and he said ‘yes’.”
5. Debbie Nathan “Reno Reconsidered,” Miami New Times, March 3-9, 1993, pp. 10, 12, 18, 20, 24, 27-29. Also “Revisiting Country Walk,” Issues in Child Abuse Accusations 5(1), Summer 1993 pp. 1-11. See note #7 for Nathan’s role in debunking the concept of ritual abuse. The investigative reporter who lived in the Country Walk community and who was a participant-observer throughout the development of the case wrote quite a different account. See Jan Hollingsworth, Unspeakable Acts, New York: Congden & Weed, 1986, for 592 pages of cogent narrative and authentic documentation of the case.
6. By reviewing the parental investigations in the light of official disapproval, I do not mean to trivialize nor to discredit their findings. The absolute confidentiality of criminal investigation makes communication a one-way process, with no opportunity to know how seriously the leads were taken or to what extent they were confirmed.
In addition to the mortuary discovery parents followed a child-guided route in search of “the doctor’s house” where blood rituals had been described. They found a residence in an affluent community some 20 miles away matching the description offered independently by several children. Authorities confirmed it was owned by a physician. No further information was ever divulged.
I had occasion to feel personally how the alarm of clinicians can be left unresolved by grudging investigation. I had been consulted in 1984 by a therapist who wanted help in reporting her suspicion of criminal conspiracy. She was concerned for the safety of two preschool-aged clients, brother and sister, and for their frightened mother, who believed her estranged husband was involved in large scale drug dealing and child prostitution. The children had led their mother to the place they had described where their father had taken them for encounters with naked adults and children (they denied ever being molested, but their drawings were full of decapitation and bloodshed). The children spoke of group encounters in other locations as well, involving both a defendant in the McMartin case and a suspect from a second preschool then under investigation.
The building shown to the mother, the Coco Palms Motel, had been the site of a babysitting service sex abuse investigation apparently unrelated to either preschool case. But two McMartin children, upon seeing a newspaper picture of the Coco Palms suspect, had independently identified him as the “Wolf Man” who delivered drugs to the abusive rituals of their own alleged experience.
The law enforcement team especially assembled to investigate the presumption of linkages among the seven suspected area preschools took my report on behalf of the anxious therapist, promising to follow it up immediately. I was told only months later than nothing had come of their investigation.
The therapist who had been involved in the identification of the “Wolf Man” was stigmatized by police for having deliberately left the newspaper in view of her young clients, and for reporting her observations to the local police rather than to the special preschool task force. The alleged wolf man died of a drug overdose and the man and woman named as his Coco Palms accomplices were spared prosecution when the children recanted their complaints.
Such complexities abound in putative but unproven conspiracies. While these apparent connections could have been coincidental and enhanced with parent-and-therapist-induced red herrings, the preemptory dismissal and the policy of with-holding the findings of official investigations leave the therapists caught in the unresolved position of amateur investigators, distrustful of the officials and unprotected against escalating fear.
7. Alexander Cockburn, Viewpoint: “The McMartin Case: Indict the Children, Jail the Parents.” The Wall Street Journal, February 8, 1990, p. A17. This virulent op-ed piece includes the standard backlash attribution of the case: “The allegations… had been extorted from her two year old by a mother-now-dead- with a history of mental illness…,” without acknowledging that the “history” occurred only after the allegations. Cockburn also cited Judy Johnson and her McMartin case as the harbingers of the entire ensuing “hysteria” over satanic abuse in an elaborate review of some 36 cases and 91 arrests. “In this purgative frenzy many lives were destroyed” (“Out of the Mouths of Babes: Child Abuse and the Abuse of Adults.” The nation, February 12, 1990, pp. 190-191) In his recurring column entitled “Beat the devil.” He invoked the McMartin case in deploring the prosecution of the Little Rascals Daycare case in North Carolina in his syndicated ‘Column Left.’ Citing “daycare panics in more than 100 cities,” he sums up his dismissal with, “Satan mongering is an industry of sorts, served by repugnant legal stratagems and nourished by bogus experts: Day Care Satanism and ‘therapy'”. Los Angeles Times, September 5, 1991, p B13
An early journalistic reinvestigation of the McMartin case identified the six people who successively created the incredible concept of massive abuse: “Mother,” “Cop,” “Social Worker,” “Politician” (District Attorney), “Reporter,” and “Prosecutor” (Mary A Fischer. “A Case of Dominoes?: Did six crucial players simply invent the longest, most expensive, most sensational-and most trumped up-case in LA.’s history? Los Angeles, October 1989, pp 126, 135). This scenario, which parallels the theory of defense in the already-acquited Jordan, Minnesota case, is offered as “the solution to the McMartin puzzle (which) eludes most of the public and the media” (p 135). The mother was, of course, Judy Johnson: “It was this call (to the police) on August 12, 1983 that sparked the biggest mass molestation case in history, but for Johnson, it was another in a series of steps toward madness and an early death from an alcohol-related liver disease” (p. 128). The article presupposes that the increasingly bizarre allegations were a product and not the producer of that decline. The article stresses the absence of evidence for the pornography and tunnel claims, exaggerating the scope and negative significance of the official excavation: “A Huntington Beach archaeological research team was hired to make a painstaking search for alleged underground rooms and tunnels where the children claimed they’d been molested. The researchers tore up the preschool floor and used an electronic scanning device to try to locate the secret passages” (p. 135). In fact, they merely peeled back some of the asphalt tiles looking for potential interruptions in the concrete slab floor and relied on an inappropriate instrument to disclaim the possibility of disturbance under the concrete. According to Dr. Stickel, who excavated the tunnels, the terrain conductivity meter used by the first archaeological team was powerless to penetrate concrete.
Debbie Nathan, a free-lance investigative journalist based in El Paso, is the most articulate and influential of the ritual abuse skeptics. She won the H.L Mencken Award for Investigative Journalism for “The Making of A modern Witch Trial” The Village Voice, September 29, 1987, pp 19-23, 26-32. In this vanguard standard of backlash rhetoric she deplores the criminal conviction of two El Paso women through a detailed analysis of the overzealous, children-never-lie crusades she attributes to the prosecutor, child protective service workers and parents. Citing the history of bizarre charges against unlikely female defendants initiated by the McMartin case, she traces the pattern through Jordan, Minnesota; Niles, Michigan; Memphis; Country Walk in Miami; Malden, Massachusetts; West Point; and Maplewood, New Jersey, she highlights the ritualistic and presumably absurd allegations in each and labels these cases “junior” McMartins. The sidebar feature entitled “Sex, the Devil and Day Care (pp. 23 & 26) defines ritual abuse as a contrived political tool to stigmatize working mothers and to scapegoat women as potential child molesters. Beneath a photograph of three female McMartin defendants in “the case that started it all,” Ms. Nathan proposes that the attempt to “satanize” day care is a strategic adjustment of the conflict between liberal feminist objections to patriarchy and the conservative pressure to protect intact families.
“But in the Reaganite 80’s, feminist consciousness-raising about sexual violence hasn’t led to a critique of the family; rather it’s encouraged moralism against evil people and narrowly legalistic remedies. The times demand a scapegoat, and what better one than daycare? If the private family is sacred then the public day care center is profane. If stay-at-home mothers are holy, then the people they pay to take care of their kids when they escape from the house are witches. Day-care hysteria is another instance of how conservatives have cornered the market these days, supplying fundamentalist rhetoric for a public trying to sort out worry and puzzlement over deep-seated social changes.”‘ (p. 26)
Debbie Nathan’s coupe de grace on ritual abuse was “What McMartin Started; The Ritual Sex Abuse Hoax (The Village Voice, June 12, 1990), beginning and ending with an attack on the parents and their children who appeared on the Geraldo Rivera Show in the wake of the January verdicts of acquittal. It decries these people’s diehard insistence on victimization. She challenges the credulity of the young people, who had such fantastic stories they could not be used as witnesses, citing especially the “Round-faced, 10-year-old” who according to her father, has “talked about being molested under the school in tunnels lined with flashing lights and pictures of the devil” (p. 36)
The article blames the case on the purportedly psychotic allegations of Judy Johnson. Nathan traces the subsequent spread of incredible allegations through-out the country and into Europe, stressing the stereotypic absurdity of children who said that “the abuse took place in churches; adults wore masks and costumes; they urinated and defecated on children; they burned, stabbed, cooked, or drowned babies; they sacrificed animals; they molested children in funeral homes and buried them in cemeteries; they mutilated Barbie dolls, extensive investigations have failed to support any of these claims.”
In questioning how “large numbers of literate, secular people” could be duped into a Christian fundamentalist “paranoia about satanism,” Ms. Nathan iterates what Dr. Lotto reiterates: the publication of Michelle Remembers. The article reveals “there is evidence that the details in ritual abuse charges came more from grown-ups than from children: co-author Pazder consulted with the police and met with parent Jackie McGauley during the early days of the investigation.” That is hardly news, nor “evidence” though it has been slow to be touted by the conspiracy theorists of rebuttal. I met with Dr. Pazder at that time too – when he had come to Los Angeles to appear with several parents on a nationally syndicated television news magazine and after he had addressed a public meeting in Manhattan Beach parents wanted to meet Dr. Pazder not to acquire details of ritual abuse but to make sense out of them, because their child were *telling them* stories of blood ritual with satanic trappings.
His conclusions about satanic cult ubiquity, however outlandish they may seem to others, offered a “reasonable explanation” for parents confronted with children growling obscenities and death threats in half-awake nightmares. As a participant observer in what the sages now dismiss as “satanic panic,” I can attest that the stories of costumes, ceremonies, chants, bloodshed and death came first from children to naive, incredulous parents and therapists, who sought in vain for a more reasonable explanation from local authorities before turning to occult literature and out-of-town experts who could offer a horrific kind of understanding of their inexplicable distress. Similarly, the television producers brought Dr. Pazder to Los Angeles not to introduce the concept of satanic ritual abuse but to *address* it, since it was by then common knowledge among journalists that children and parents were describing unearthly obscenities.
Debbie Nathan concludes her investigation of the Ritual Sex Abuse Hoax with the paragraph excerpted at the conclusion of this article (note 13) proclaiming the nationwide network of “clans” united with the”…tent revival belief in their children’s victimization. Right wing devil-mongers may find this subculture to their liking. But the rest of us ought to recognize the harm it wreaking, not only on civil liberties and the falsely accused, but also on day care on women’s rights, and especially on children. Because the kids involved in this hysteria have indeed suffered, but not at the hands of their teachers. Compared to the abuses of a child-protection movement gone mad, could incest be any worse?”
The “investigative journalists” have no need of evidence for their clan conspiracy theory. With no more foundation than the presumption that the satanic implications are not worthy of rational credence, they state without any apparent doubt that another international, interdisciplinary, intergenerational conspiracy to abuse children does in fact exist, with agents so powerful in their misguided beliefs that they can infuse death terror into the minds of children through mere suggestion. And the perpetrators of this abuse are just the sort of folks one would least suspect of terrorist agendas; they are the child abuse finders who follow the dictates of the clinical high priest of a child-protection movement gone mad.
Compared to the grandiosity of a backlash movement gone ballistic, could a shared belief in satanic conspiracy be any worse?
8. Pending publication, there is no general access to this report, and no assurance of when or how it might become available. Inquiries may be directed to me, including any interest in assisting in publication. Correspondence will be forwarded to the custodian of the McMartin Tunnel Project, Ms. Jackie McGauley.
9. This mutually antagonistic response to common disaster is described as typical of parents in cases studied by child psychiatrist Lenore Terr. Initial bonding and cooperative optimism gives way to displacement of rage toward one another as they discover no one can perfectly resolve the collective trauma. Some withdraw and become protective of their private lives and untarnished future, resentful of other parents who try to keep the memory alive, especially those who seem to revel in publicity and notoriety. Too Scared to Cry: Psychic Trauma in Childhood. New York: Harper & Row, 1990, pp. 66-72.
10. Paul and Shirley Eberle, The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1993. The Eberles also wrote the Politics of Child Abuse (Secaucus, N.) Lyle Stuard Inc., 1986) which centers on the McMartin case as the bellwether of the nationwide “child abuse witch hunt” (p. 285) “resulting in the devastation of innocent peoples lives and families (p, 283). Both books lionized defendants and defense interests while defaming everything and everyone associated with child protection. Such polemics also illustrate the gospel of the dual attack on child protection. Ritual abuse cases are first debunked as de factor frauds, then all sexual abuse complaints are tarred with the same brush..” We believe that every molestation case in which there has been a conviction should be reopened and reviewed.” (The Politics of Child Abuse, p. 284)
11. In order to allow privacy for the child and her parents, “Joanie” is a pseudonym.
12. The Maury Povich Show, nationally syndicated. Broadcast June 21, 1993
13. Debbie Nathan, “What McMartin Started:The Ritual Sex Abuse Hoax,”The Village Voice, June 12, 1990. Also syndicated and reprinted in many independent newspapers, such as Metro: Santa Clara Valley’s Weekly Newspaper (AA) under the title, “The McMartin Syndrome” August 23-29, 1990, pp. 10-15
Roland Summit is a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center (Building D-6, 1000 W. Carson St., Torrance, CA 90509). He has been the community psychiatrist to the South Bay area of Los Angeles County since 1966, specializing exclusively in child sexual abuse since 1975. He was assigned the role of county Department of Mental Health Liaison to the community of Manhattan Beach in the wake of the 1983-84 epidemic of preschool abuse allegations.
Tamarkin, C. (1994a). Investigative Issues in Ritual Abuse Cases, Part I. Treating Abuse Today, 4 (4): 14-23. Tamarkin, C. (1994b). Investigative Issues in Ritual Abuse Cases, Part II. Treating Abuse Today, 4 (5): 5-9. http://abusearticles.wordpress.com/2007/12/02/investigative-issues-in-ritual-abuse-cases-part-1-and-2-1994/
“In August 1982, a mother claimed she noticed blood in her son’s diaper and an irritation around his rectum. A hospital exam confirmed her worst fears her son has been sodomized. Asked who was responsible, the toddler said, “Mr. Ray.” “Mr. Ray” was…a teacher at the McMartin preschool, which the boy had –been attending. Later, when the boy was questioned by local police, he named other children whom he claimed also were present during the sexual abuse.”
“What surprised me as an investigative journalist was that nobody looked beyond the seemingly fanciful nature of the disclosures. Nobody tried to interpret what the disclosures might mean through a child’s frame of reference and perception. Nobody searched for plausible explanation…children talked about…improbable events like jumping out of airplanes and seeing a horse killed. Yet, investigators did not track reports that Raymond Buckey had a friend who ran a special effects studio or that Virginia McMartin’s sister owned a horse ranch.”
Paul and Shirley Eberle: A Strange Pair of Experts
by Maria Laurina
Paul and Shirley Eberle wrote The Politics of Child Abuse, a book that accuses mothers, mental health professionals, and prosecutors of feeding children stories about sexual abuse. Since the book was published by Lyle Stuart in l986, the Eberles have been cited as experts in sexual abuse trials. They were featured speakers at a conference of the Victims of Child Abuse Laws, a group formed to protect accused parents.
What is startling about the Eberles’ reputation as ground-breaking experts in the field is that their dubious credentials have not been widely challenged. Paul and Shirley Eberle edit a soft-core magazine in California called the L.A. Star that contains a mixture of nude photos, celebrity gossip, telephone sex ads, and promos for The Politics of Child Abuse.
In the 1970’s, however, the Eberles were also publishing hard-core pornography. Their publication, Finger, depicted scenes of bondage, S & M, and sexual activities involving urination and defecation. A young girl portrayed with a wide smile on her face sits on top of a man whose penis is inside of her; a woman has oral sex with a young boy in a drawing entitled “Memories of My Boyhood.”
The Eberles were featured nude on one cover holding two life-size blow up dolls names “Love Girl” and “Play Guy.” No dates appear on the issues and the Eberles rarely attach their names, referring to themselves as “The L.A. Star Family.”
The Eberles were the distributors of Finger and several other underground magazines, says Donald Smith, a sergeant with the obscenity section of the Los Angeles Police Department’s vice division who followed the couple for years. LAPD was never able to prosecute for child pornography: “There were a lot of photos of people who looked like they were under age but we could never prove it.” The pictures of young children in Finger are illustrations, and child pornography laws were less rigid a decade ago than they are today.
“Sexpot at Five,” “My First Rape, She Was Only Thirteen,” and “What Happens When Niggers Adopt White Children” are some of the articles that appeared in Finger. One letter states: “I think it’s really great that your mags have the courage to print articles & pixs [sic] on child sex…Too bad I didn’t hear from more women who are into child sex…Since I’m single I’m not getting it on with my children, but I know of a few families that are. If I were married & my wife & kids approved–I’d be having sex with my daughters.”
Another entry reads: “I’m a pedophile & I think its [sic] great a man is having sex with his daughter!…Since I didn’t get Finger #3, I didn’t get to see the stories & pics of family sex. Would like to see pics of nude girls making it with their daddy, but realize its too risky to print.”
Lyle Stuart plans to print the Eberles’ forthcoming book on the McMartins preschool trial. Carole Stuart, the publisher, describes the Eberles as “experts in the field,” and family friends “for years.” Reprinted in the ICONoclast, WINTER 1988 / VOL. 1, NO. 2 with permission from Ms. Magazine (December 1988)
Behind the Playground Walls – Sexual Abuse in Preschools by Jill Waterman, Robert J. Kelly, Mary Kay Oliveri and Jane McCord – The Guilford Press – New York, London 1993 “In the most well-known case, involving the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, two juries from successive trials became hopelessly deadlocked and failed to agree on a verdict after 7 years of investigation and trial. At the press conference following the trial, 9 of the 11 jurors who agreed to be interviewed indicated that they believed the children had been molested, but they felt that the evidence presented did not enable them to state beyond a reasonable doubt who had perpetrated the abuse.” (p. vii) (Source: Los Angeles Times, January 19, 1990, pp. A1 and A22) “Tapes of Children Decided the Case for Most Jurors” Tracy Wilkinson and James Rainey – Los Angeles Times p.A1 and A2 – 1/19/1990
chapter in book : A Tale of Two Communities” by Jane McCord
describes crimes – Reporter’s Notebook: 6 Months of California Case By Robert Lindsey Published: February 13, 1985 “Prosecutors say they intend to present as witnesses 41 former pupils of the school, almost all of whom, physicians testified at the hearing, showed physical evidence of having been sexually abused. The second of the children to testify at the hearing, a 10-year-old boy who attended the McMartin Preschool almost five years ago, has now been on the witness stand for nine days, including eight days under intense cross examination by defense lawyers who have been trying to find inconsistencies in his story. So far, often under rapid-fire questioning that might wither some adult witnesses, the child has stuck to his story with only minor contradictions. He described being sodomized or otherwise sexually molested by all seven of the defendants and asserted that children had been made to pose for pornographic pictures. The 10-year-old boy repeated under cross examination an account of how he and other children were taken to a church where he said adults wearing masks and black robes danced and moaned while Mr. Buckey went to the altar and killed pet rabbits, turtles and birds and threatened to kill the children’s parents the same way if the children told of the alleged abuse. http://www.nytimes.com/1985/02/13/us/reporter-s-notebook-6-months-of-california-case.html
describes crimes – Boy, 7, Is Witness in California Child Abuse Case by Robert Lindsey January 23, 1985 A 7-year- old boy testified today that he had played ”naked games” at the Virginia McMartin Preschool near here and that in at least one of the games teachers at the school had touched his genital organs….Prosecutors have asserted that more than 100 children were abused at the school in the past decade. All the defendants have denied the charges, which date from 1978….After pointing out his former teachers in the courtroom, the boy said he had played ”naked games” at the school. Describing a game called ”Cowboys and Indians” under questioning by Glenn Stevens, a deputy district attorney, the boy said the children playing the game were taken into a room. ”They’d put us in jail; they’d touch us in jail,” he said. ”How did the teachers touch you?” Mr. Stevens asked. ”In the penis,” the boy replied….While Mr. Stevens appeared satisfied with the answers regarding the first game the child mentioned, he was less successful when questioning the child about two other games, called ”the Alligator Game” and ”Naked Movie Star.” In both games, the boy said, children were asked by other children to remove their clothes, but he seemed to draw a blank whenever he was asked to give details. ”I don’t remember,” the boy said repeatedly. The first grade pupil also testified that Mr. Buckey had cut the ears off rabbits and injured other pets in front of the children and had threatened to harm their parents if they told anyone about the alleged sexual molestation. http://www.nytimes.com/1985/01/23/us/boy-7-is-witness-in-california-child-abuse-case.html
Do Children Lie? Not About This – Los Angeles Times – Los Angeles, Calif. Author: Tavris, Carol Date: Jan 19, 1990 Start Page: B7 Abstract (Document Summary) Carol Tavris says that children who are sexually abused almost always tell the truth about what has happened to them. Tavris comments on the McMartin Pre-School sexual molestation trial and says that she believes that the children in that trial were molested.
The Battle and the Backlash: The Child Sexual Abuse War by David Hechler (1988) Lexington Books ISBN 0-669-14097-x “What happened at the McMartin Preschool will be debated for a long time. Few aspects of the case are clear, but it requires no strain of credulity to believe that the children could have been abused at the facility without being diagnosed by a pediatrician.”