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Throughout the 1980s, several employees from the renowned McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California, were investigated after claims of child sex abuse were reported to the local police department.
Ultimately, preschool founder Virginia McMartin, her daughter Peggy McMartin Buckey, her grandchildren Peggy Ann Buckey and Raymond “Ray” Buckey, and employees Mary Ann Jackson, Babette Spitler, and Betty Raidor were indicted. The seven defendants first faced 115 charges, then later 321 charges, according to The New York Times.
While charges were dropped against Virginia McMartin, Peggy Ann Buckey, Jackson, Spitler, and Raidor at the conclusion of preliminary hearings, Peggy and Ray went to trial. The prosecution’s case relied heavily on testimony from the children and employees at Children’s Institute International, a local non-profit that interviewed the alleged victims.
No corroborating evidence was ever discovered or presented during court proceedings, but according to defense attorney Danny Davis, the public remained convinced of his client Ray Buckey’s guilt.
“The message was pervasive and unending. That was never [going to] stop, that was a snowball, that was a witch hunt,” Davis told “Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials,” streaming now on Oxygen.
In 1989, a jury found Peggy and Ray not guilty on 52 counts of child molestation, but remained deadlocked on 12 molestation charges against Ray, and a single count of conspiracy against Ray and Peggy, according to The Associated Press. Ray was retried on molestation charges, but again, the jury deadlocked, and a mistrial was declared, according to The New York Times.
After the trial, Buckey attended law school, reported The Los Angeles Times. He later changed his name and relocated to the Northwest, where he lives with his wife and son. To this day, Davis stands by the “handsome, athletic, spiritual, sensitive” former McMartin Preschool teacher.
“Person to person, probably the most rewarding relationship I had without ever being close … I fathered my son years before he was born,” said Davis.
To learn more about the infamous trial, watch “Uncovered: The McMartin Family Trials” now on Oxygen.
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