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Ritual abuse cases

Part 3 of three parts:
The McMartin ritual abuse cases in
Manhattan Beach, CA in the 1980's

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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After the trial:

The events at McMartin caused extensive disruption:

Actions by the principals in the case included:

bullet Peggy McMartin immediately filed a civil suit against the city, county, the CII and an ABC TV station for a long list of improper behaviors. A few months later, Virginia McMartin and two of the defendants who were charged but never tried also filed suits. These actions failed because state law and previous court decisions have granted absolute immunity from prosecution to child protective services workers, persons involved in the prosecution. This protection was extended to the CII in this case because they were working for the prosecution. 

bullet "Peggy Buckey sued to get back her teaching credentials. In granting them, and restitution of $180,000 from the state in lost teacher's pay, the judge found the children's statements so lacking in credibility as to not constitute evidence. [In 1995] Married, with two children, she now teaches extreme-case disadvantaged children in a special school in Anaheim, Calif." 1

bullet In 1991, the accused sued the parent of one student for slander. They won the case, but were only awarded $1.00 in damages.

bullet Ray Buckey went on to finish college and, in 1995 was preparing to enter law school. 1

bullet Virginia McMartin died in 1995-DEC-18 at the age of 88.

bullet On 2000-DEC-6, Senior Trial Deputy Lael Rubin, the prosecutor in the McMartin case, was promoted to special counsel.

bullet On 2000-DEC-15, Peggy McMartin Buckley died in Torrance, CA, at the age of 74.

bullet In 2001-FEB-19, Betty Evans Raidor, a former teacher at McMartin, died at the age of 81. She had been charged with 32 instances of child molestation, along with four other teachers. The charges were dropped after the preliminary hearing. The trial ruined her financially. The publicity turned her into a pariah.

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Sponsored link.

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The first, and perhaps only, recantation:

Decades later, on 2005-OCT-30, the magazine section of the Los Angeles Times published the first retraction from a McMartin student. Kyle Sapp, now known as Kyle Zirpolo, was eight years of age when he made his accusations 21 years previously. He wanted to tell the truth and apologize to the defendants. He says that he made his accusations because of pressure from his family, the community and the social workers who interviewed him.

Commenting on his experiences being extensively interviewed at Children's Institute International, now known as Children's Institute, Inc., Zirpolo said:

"Anytime I would give them an answer that they didn't like, they would ask again and encourage me to give them the answer they were looking for. It was really obvious what they wanted. I know the types of language they used on me: things like I was smart, or I could help the other kids who were scared."

"I felt uncomfortable and a little ashamed that I was being dishonest. But at the same time, being the type of person I was, whatever my parents wanted me to do, I would do. And I thought they wanted me to help protect my little brother and sister who went to McMartin."

Later, he said, in part:

"I think I got the Satanic details by picturing our church. We went to American Martyrs, which was a huge Catholic church. Every Sunday we had to go, and Mass would last an hour, hour and a half. None of us wanted to go: It was kicking and screaming all the way there. Sitting, standing, sitting, standing. What I would do was picture the altar, pews and stained-glass windows, and if [investigators] said, 'Describe an altar,' I would describe the one in our church. Or instead of, 'There was a priest in a green suit'—someone who was real—I would say, 'A man dressed in red as a cult member.' From going to church you know that God is good, and the devil is bad and has horns and is about evil and red and blood. I'd just throw a twist in there with Satan and devil-worshipping." 2

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Author's note:

As of 2016-MAR, over three decades have passed since the McMartin case was launched. I'd really like to see an impact study done on the hundreds of children, now young adults, who were victimized by the child psychologists and police investigators of Manhattan Beach, CA.

A ritual abuse disaster like "McMartin" is unlikely to happen again; we simply know too much about memory processes in the brain and interview techniques for young children. I suspect that the Wenatchee WA case will be the last of this type in the U.S. and the Martensville, SK the last in Canada. Still, it would seem that a study which measured the residual emotional damage done to the children of McMartin would be very helpful and illuminating.

My guess, based on pure conjecture, is that about 20% of the students who believed that they were ritually abused will be found to have been seriously affected, 10% significantly emotionally disabled, and 1% will eventually commit suicide because of their false memories.

Another interesting study would be to determine the current beliefs of the principals involved in the prosecution and interviewing at McMartin. I suspect that many still believe that Satanists were at work in the early 1980s.

Society needs to know this information. If data is not collected, then there will be incomplete information available to combat the next disaster of this type. Three hundred years ago, Salem, MA became convinced that the area was infested with witches of the evil kind; about two dozen innocent people were judicially murdered by handing and one was pressed to death. In the 1980's, seven people were tried for imaginary ritual abuse crimes against young children. The next calamity may be sooner than three centuries from now. We need to be on guard. The best defense is to fully understand the past.

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Sponsored link:

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Related essay at this web site:

bullet The mysterious underground tunnels at McMartin

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Articles about the events at McMartin:

  • Alex Constantine, "McMartin Preschool Revisited" at: views the McMartin case as a web of interconnected conspiracies.

  • S. Garven, et al., "The role of suggestive questions, social influence, reinforcement and removal in creating adult false memories. More than suggestion: The effect of interviewing techniques from the McMartin preschool case," Journal of Applied Psychology, (1998), 33, Pages 347 to 359. This article uses events in the McMartin day care case to assert that the same dynamics apply to both children and adults in the creation of false memories. They conclude that social influence and reinforcement "appeared to be more powerful determinants of children's answers than simple suggestion."

  • Anon, "McMartin Preschool Victims Webpage" is a skeptical web site, under construction, that "... is dedicated to ALL of the victims of the McMartin Preschool investigations, allegations, and trials, past, present, and future.  Particularly the victims of those who carried on past the point that they should have been able to see the truth."

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Books about the events at McMartin, and the ritual abuse panic generally:

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References used in the above essay:

  1. Michael Kilian, "Criminal injustice: 'McMartin Trial' indicts overzealous prosecutors for pressing unsubstantiated case," at:
  2. Kyle Zirpolo, as told to Debbie Nathan. " 'I'm Sorry.' A long-delayed apology from one of the accusers in the notorious McMartin Pre-School molestation case." LA Times, 2005-OCT-30, at

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Copyright 1996 to 2016, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-MAY-16
Author: B.A. Robinson

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