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Ritual abuse cases

Part 1 of three parts:
The "McMartin ritual abuse
cases in Manhattan Beach, CA

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bullet "...the kids involved in this hysteria have indeed suffered, but not at the hands of their teachers. ... the abuse perpetrated against them by the child-protection movement gone mad are every bit as awful as the tyranny of incest." Debbie Nathan 1

bullet "I felt everyone knew I was lying. But my parents said, 'You're doing fine. Don't worry.' And everyone was saying how proud they were of me." Kyle Zripolo, student at McMartin.

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"McMartin" was one of the first Multi-Victim Multi Offender (MVMO) child abuse cases. 2,3 It lasted for six years -- the longest US criminal trial in history. At a cost to the state of $15 million, it was also the most expensive. No convictions were obtained. The main evidence of abuse was based on what the children testimony. That involved memories of repeated, sadistic, ritual molestation. The children's testimony was supported by medical tests, which were believed at the time to be accurate. Years later, they were found to be useless. Years later, child psychologists realized that such memories can be easily implanted in children's minds as a result of the interview techniques which were used at the time. Subsequently, psychologists and police investigators have changed their methods of interrogating young children, and MVMO cases have surfaced recently in the U.S. and Canada.

The hoax adversely affected the lives of hundreds of children, who are now adults. It became the most famous MVMO case of its type. Many feminists and others still believe that the children were subjected to horrendous abuse at McMartin. Snippets from the McMartin case have been distributed around the world and incorporated into similar stories involving false memories. The nonexistent underground tunnels at McMartin are probably the most popular.

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Events leading up to the trial:

The McMartin preschool was located in Manhattan Beach, CA. It was owned by Peggy McMartin Buckey and her mother, Virginia McMartin. Ms. Buckey's son, Ray, was a part-time school-aide at the school. On 1983-AUG-12, Judy Johnson complained to the police that her son had been molested by Ray at the school. Ms. Johnson was allegedly an alcoholic and had been diagnosed as having paranoid schizophrenia. She also claimed that her son had been molested and abused by her estranged husband. The latter claim appears to have been largely ignored by the prosecution; information about it was withheld from the defense attorneys. Although there was no physical evidence or confirmation from other children at the school, Ray was arrested on SEP-07. Because of lack of evidence, the DA decided to not prosecute.

The Chief of the Manhattan Beach Police then created a local panic by circulating a "strictly confidential" letter to about 200 parents of present or past McMartin students. The letter specified that Ray may have forced the children to engage in oral sex, fondling of genitals, buttocks or chest area and sodomy". The parents were urged to question their children, seeking confirmation.  The community and surrounding area was panicked by an irresponsible media. A local TV station was first with the news; they reported that the preschool might be linked to child pornography rings and various sex industries in nearby Los Angeles.

In 2002-MAY, the Morning Call newspaper of Allentown, PA interviewed Paul Eberle. He is co-author of "The Abuse of Innocence," a book about the McMartin case. He said: "

Almost all of the accusing families were practicing Catholics who attended the American Martyrs Church...What the Catholic Church did was to open its doors to all these witch-hunters."

Eberle said rallies linked to the church demanded that "Ray [Buckley] must die!" He continued:

"The [Martyrs] Church was marching with the accusers, and anybody with an ounce of brains knew these people were innocent. The church was very accommodating with the lynch mob." 4

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Webmaster's opinion: [Bias alert]:

Looking back at this case from three decades after the panic, my personal opinion is that the Catholic and other religious groups did not play a major direct role in the propogation of this panic. Religious gatherings probably did play an indirect role by bringing parents together where they could share stories and spread the panic. Church teaching of the existance of Satan probably contributed to the belief among their membership that evil, abusive Satanic cults existed, were widespread, and engaged in ritual abuse of children. But we have been unable to find any evidence of direct church involvement in the case.

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Hundreds of children were later interviewed by the Children's Institute International (CII). By the spring of 1984, 360 kids had been diagnosed as having been abused. Medical exams were conducted on 150 children. There was a complete lack of the type of physical evidence that is normally seen with sexually abused children. However, the doctor performed some new tests which have since been shown to be useless as a predictor of abuse. The doctor concluded that about 120 had been sexually abused.

The whole town, particularly the parents of the allegedly abused children, went ballistic. Stories of child abuse included other locations, including St. Cross Episcopal Church in Hermosa Beach, CA and 8 other Manhattan Beach schools. Teachers at the schools were said to belong to a Satanic cult and a child pornography ring. About 100 teachers "were accused of child molestation and/or Satanic rituals." 5   Children were pressured by parents; CII interviewers used leading, suggestive, and repeated questions. These are the precise techniques that almost guarantee the implantation of false memories in the minds of children.

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The interviewers gave rewards to the kids for disclosing the "right" answers: These were that the children:

bullet were victimized by teachers who were members of an intergenerational Satanic conspiracy.

bullet were required to participate in "major, major sacrifices" connected with the "Satanic Church." 1

bullet were sexually abused by Ray Buckey who was dressed as a police officer, fireman, clown or Santa Claus.

bullet were forced to act in pornographic movies, and submit to the taking of millions of "kiddy-porn" photographs.

bullet saw the mutilation and killing of animals.

bullet saw an AWOL Marine sodomize a dog.

bullet Were forced to ride naked on a horse.

bullet were forced to engage in Satanic rituals, including ritual murder of infants and drinking of baby's blood.

bullet saw dead and burned babies, flying witches, movie stars and local politicians.

bullet were forced into a coffin and buried.

bullet were molested in a market and a car wash.

bullet were forced to watch while Ray Buckey killed a sea turtle by stabbing its shell with a knife; this was a demonstration of what would happen to the children if they told. (in reality, turtle shells are much too tough to be penetrated with a knife)

bullet were taken to the airport, traveled to Palm Springs either in an airplane or hot air balloon, sexually abused and returned. [It is important to realize that hot air baloons canot be steered; they drift whereve the wind takes them. Making a round trip in a baloon is unheard of.]

bullet were driven from the school in cars, and sexually abused on the side of the highway.

bullet were flushed down toilets, traveled through sewers to a place where adults sexually abused them, cleaned them up and later returned them to the pre-school so they could be picked up by their parents.

bullet were taken through trapdoors in the floor of the center, taken through underground tunnels to both underground and above ground rooms where they were abused. No tunnels were ever found. However, some old trenches which pre-dated the McMartin building and were filled with pre-World War II garbage were located; some claim that they were tunnels that the staff had filled in.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used in the above essay:

  1. Debbie Nathan, "The ritual sex abuse hoax," The Village Voice, 1990-JAN-12. Online at The National Center for Reason and Justice, at:
  2. Debbie Nathan & Michael Snendeker, "Satan's Silence", BasicBooks, New York NY (1995), P. 170
  3. Paul & Shirley Eberle, "The Abuse of Innocence : The McMartin Preschool Trial", Prometheus Books (1993). ISBN: 0879758090. The book's authors attended the court sessions lasting over many years, and concluded that there was no case against the accused.
  4. Paul Carpenter, "Keep McMartin case in mind as hysteria looms," The Morning Call newspaper, Allentown, PA, 2002-MAY-19, Page B1.
  5. R.A. Wilson, "Chaos and Beyond: The best of trajectories" at:

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Copyright © 1996 to 2016, by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2016-MAR-17
Author: B.A. Robinson

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