Ritual abuse cases
Part 3 of three parts:
The McMartin ritual abuse cases in
Manhattan Beach, CA in the 1980's
After the trial:
The events at McMartin caused extensive disruption:
Actions by the principals in the case included:
||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.
||"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
||In 1991, the accused sued the parent of one student for slander.
They won the case, but were only awarded $1.00 in damages.
||Ray Buckey went on to finish college and, in 1995 was preparing to
enter law school. 1
||Virginia McMartin died in 1995-DEC-18 at the age of 88.
Senior Trial Deputy Lael Rubin, the prosecutor in the McMartin case, was
promoted to special counsel.
||On 2000-DEC-15, Peggy McMartin Buckley died in Torrance, CA, at the
age of 74.
||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.
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
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.
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
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
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.
Related essay at this web site:
Articles about the events at McMartin:
- Alex Constantine, "McMartin Preschool Revisited" at: http://www.mk.net/~mcf/alxmrtn2.htm 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
- 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."
Books about the events at McMartin, and the ritual abuse panic generally:
References used in the above essay:
- Michael Kilian, "Criminal injustice: 'McMartin Trial' indicts
overzealous prosecutors for pressing unsubstantiated case," at: http://users.cybercity.dk/~ccc44406/smwane/McMartin2.htm
- 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 http://www.latimes.com/
Copyright © 1996 to 2016, by Ontario
Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-MAY-16
Author: B.A. Robinson