The McMartin Pre-School Case: What’s So Hard To Believe?

I thought it might be interesting and informative to re-visit the McMartin preschool case.There are many interesting facts not been widely publicized about the McMartin case. You will find them in this article.

In 1983, Ray Bucky, his sister Peggy Ann, Ray’s mother Peggy, and Grandmother Virginia, along with three other teachers from the McMartin pre-school, in Manhattan Beach California, were all arrested and charged with hundreds of counts of child sexual abuse.

The arrests took place after a mother reported to police that her two year-old son came home from the McMartin pre-school with blood on his anus. The boy’s mother was told to go to the emergency room at the University of California at Los Angeles.

UCLA is a highly respected hospital with a prominent staff. The physicians at UCLA told the woman that her son had been sodomized. This led to a flood of other children reporting that sexual abuse had taken place in and around the school.

To this day, there remains widespread disbelief of the accusers.

One woman even ended up recanting the accusations she made as a child.

Children and adults often retract previous accusations of child sexual abuse, even when the accusations are true.

In the McMartin case, questionable tactics were used in suggestive interviews with the children. It is possible that inexperienced and overzealous investigators, caused some children to lie, and others to be confused about real abuse.

But the truth of the McMartin case, is most likely much darker and unacceptable to the human mind.

A New York Times writer said this about the case:

“When you once believed something that now strikes you as absurd, even unhinged, it can be almost impossible to summon that feeling of credulity again. Maybe that is why it is easier for most of us to forget, rather than to try and explain, the Satanic-abuse scare that gripped this country in the early 80’s — the myth that Devil-worshipers had set up shop in our day-care centers, where their clever adepts were raping and sodomizing children, practicing ritual sacrifice, shedding their clothes, drinking blood and eating feces, all unnoticed by parents, neighbors and the authorities.” ~Margaret Talbot

Does Ms.Talbot not know that we live in a world where many people worship Satan? Father Malachi Martin was a prominent theologian, well-educated, and a high authority in the Roman Catholic Church. Father Martin warned that at least 8,000 satanic covenants exist in the United States alone and that people from all walks of life are among the members.

Does she live in a world where fathers don’t take a hatchet to their little boys and burn them to death? If that isn’t paying tribute to Satan, I don’t know what is.

Does Ms. Talbot, and those who roll their eyes to Satanic Ritual Abuse, live in a world where no one makes children have sex with animals, or where no one drinks blood because they want to emulate a vampire?

Does Ms. Talbot reside in a world where all little children are watched and protected by their parents, by nice neighbors and respected school officials? Tell me where such a world is Ms. Talbot, because it does not exist.

(Ray Bucky, far right)

The U.S. media has made it virtually impossible to believe the Buckys were guilty of child sexual abuse, and the media has touted the McMartin case as a travesty against “innocent” teachers and day care workers. The McMartin case has been called a modern day “witch hunt,” and is the basis for the catch phrase, “Satanic panic.”

The U.S. media, as well as special interest groups, have used the McMartin case to create mass disbelief in Satanic Ritual Abuse, and even a disbelief of general cases of sexual abuse at day care facilities.

“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?”

Facts virtually ignored by the U.S. Media:

In 1990, the new owner of the preschool, granted permission to search for the tunnels before he destroyed the building and redeveloped the property. Sound, scientific evidence was discovered; evidence that showed someone had dug tunnels under the preschool, and went through the task of trying to cover them up. The results of the excavation are documented in meticulous detail in a 185 page report of the Archaeological Excavation of the McMartin Preschool Site by E. Gary Stickel, Ph.D., a UCLA archaeologist.

According to Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, John Crewdson, parents with children attending the school, were given excessively strict rules about visiting the school unannounced. Children occasionally went home from the school wearing other children’s clothing or without the underwear they had on that morning. One father admitted that he and the other parents were extremely busy with their own lives and that it “blew right past” him when his child came home without any underwear. *

Another father admitted that his child would cry every morning when he dropped him off at the McMartin Preschool, but because the small boy could not verbally express himself to his father, the man did not look into the source of his son’s distress.

Some of the children said the teachers at McMartin had given them “medicine” in the form of “little pink pills” and other liquid substances which one child described as “making me feel like I was asleep even when I was awake.” Children do not have the intelligence to articulate such a complicated feeling unless they have experienced it. They also mentioned “horsy games” “doctor games” and “tickle games.”

These are “games” frequently used by child sexual abusers.

The children making the accusations, also said their previous silence had been necessary because occasionally a turtle, gerbil, or rabbit was killed in front of them at the school. The children were told that their parents would die in the same way if the abuse secrets were ever revealed.

Turtle shells were found in the lot next to the McMartin pre-school.

(Peggy Ann)

Killing animals and threats of death are a form of manipulation through terror that is frequently used by sexual predators and those who torture children. Children cannot possibly fabricate a method commonly used to silence victims. In addition, the children described specific mind control tactics that could not have been invented by the simple mind of a child.

One physician reported that one of the children suffered “blunt force trauma” of sexual areas. Some of the children in the care of the McMartins even had chlamydia, a sexually-transmitted disease.

Other compelling evidence in the case is the children said they were abused in an Episcopal Church near the school. That same church had run a day-care center, which was closed by the state when doctors said six children had been sexually abused there. The McMartin children could not have known this.

(Virginia McMartin)

Investigators on the case disclosed that the children’s accounts of the physical locations, where the alleged abuse had taken place, were 100% accurate. The children even named an unemployed handyman as being one of their perpetrators. As it turned out, this man had been facing sexual abuse charges stemming from a baby-sitting service that he ran from a motel in a nearby town. The children could not have known about the charges against the man.

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. ~Jackie MacGauley, mother of one of the McMartin Preschool children

Death Threats, Terror, and Programming Victims into Silence

The children in the McMartin case spoke of several abusive sexual acts being forced on them, including the “naked movie star game.” They also described being made to have sex with animals. A number of experts feel the children were perpetrated by adults wearing various animal costumes or masks of movie actors.

Children being sexually, or ritualistically abused, are often threatened with death or with the death of a loved one, or a beloved pet. Victims of ritual abuse, are sometimes programmed to hurt, or kill themselves, if they ever tell someone. The victim might also be tricked into believing false “truths” in order to make their experiences sound wildly exaggerated, or even improbable, if ever disclosed.

Perpetrators frequently wear alien costumes, masks, and use other props in order to confuse their victims. This is convenient for the perpetrators, later in life, when a child victim becomes an adult and they remember their abuse or torture in a distorted manner.

The adult survivor might remember, and begin to describe, their abuser as a clown or a movie star, even an alien from another planet. Subsequently, the victim is not believed, and may not even believe themselves, which can lead to a retraction of the allegations.

Sakheim describes how a child molester had detailed the manner in which he muddled the reality of his victims. He would not only wear costumes, but he would pretend to kill a baby, when in reality he had used a doll. This would invoke terrible fear into a child and probably silence them forever because the child does not know that it is only a doll being mutilated.

Deliberate distortions may have been used by perpetrators in the McMartin Pre-School case.

Despite media attempts to keep this information away from public knowledge, the tunnels that the children spoke of, were eventually found and the findings were confirmed in 1993 by five scientists from top universities.

Not only were the tunnels found, but there is compelling evidence, proving the existence of the tunnels, and corroborating the child’s accounts of the tunnels.

Eighteen children testified before the Grand Jury in the McMartin case, and people who attended the trial say their stories were credible. Medical evidence of vaginal and anal penetration was found in some of the children.

In 1986, a new district attorney considered the evidence as “incredibly weak,” so all charges were dropped against Virginia McMartin, Peggy Ann Buckey, Mary Ann Jackson, Betty Raidor and Babette Spitler.

The trial against Peggy McMartin and Ray Bucky lasted three years, and in 1990, after nine weeks of jury deliberation, Peggy McMartin Buckey was acquitted on all counts.

Ray Buckey was cleared of 52 out of 65 counts, and there was a hung jury on the other counts. Bucky was released from jail and tried again on six of the 13 remaining counts. This resulted in another hung jury. The prosecutors decided not to try Ray Bucky a third time.

Some of the jurors said they believed that some of the children were indeed abused, but they felt the interviews of the children were suggestive so they could not convict Bucky.

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.~ Jackie MacGauley

Despite the questionable tactics used by those who interviewed the children, it is very possible that, because the female defendants looked like typical ‘American apple pie’ aunts and grandmothers, and that the charges were so “far-fetched” from the ‘society norm,’ the jury could not move past their denial system.

* This is a perfect example of parents who are too busy and unattached to their children to investigate suspicious behavior and situations. The McMartin case took place in the early 1980’s. Parents of today are infinitely more preoccupied in their daily routine. This means that too many children are made vulnerable to sexual predators.


Please visit the Ritual Abuse Pages website to read details on the McMartin case and the tunnels, Click here


Gould, C. (1995). Denying ritual abuse of children. Journal of Psychohistory, 22(3), 329-339. Denying-ritual-abuse-of-children-catherine-gould

Clinical Aspects of Recovered Memory, David K. Sakheim, Recovered Memories of Child Sexual Abuse: Psychological, Social, and Legal Perspectives on a Contemporary Mental Health Controversy, Edited by Sheila Taub, Charles C Thomas Publisher,1999 page 76

By Silence Betrayed: Sexual Abuse of Children in America, John Crewdson, Little,  Brown and Company, 1988, pages 132-158

PBS Frontline

Margaret Talbot (January 7, 2001). “The Lives They Lived: 01-07-01: Peggy McMartin Buckey, b. 1926; The Devil in The Nursery.”. The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-04-05.

Hostage to the Devil: The Possession and Exorcism of Five Contemporary Americans, Malachi Martin

Tunnels Evidence

Jackie MacGauley interview

This entry was posted in Child Abuse, child molestation, child sexual abuse, Crime, repressed memory and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to The McMartin Pre-School Case: What’s So Hard To Believe?

  1. DEb says:

    i HAVE looked into this case as well, I am horrified, that still after all these years, even with a child recanting , people refuse to believe that the adults were the perpetrators of child abuse, not the mcmartins. A horrible case of misconduct, by the parents, prosecutors, social worker, need I go on. When the truth is staring you in the face, there are some adults who prefer to look at the worst, and refuse to admit they failed these poor children. The Mcmartins were innocent, period.

  2. mayan says:

    I feel very sorry for the people of this trial. I know children make up stories, maybe all of you think they do not. How sad, because they were guilty before proven innocent and their lives ruined. Nothing points to child abuse and fear is everywhere you turn.

  3. Anonymous says:

    no convictions were made, and one of the children later was quoted as saying.
    “Never did anyone do anything to me, and I never saw them doing anything. I said a lot of things that didn’t happen. I lied. … 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. … 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.”

    • Alethea says:

      Yes? So? what’s your point? I already mentioned the sub-par interviews, and that some children may have been trying to please the interviewer.

  4. maribeth merton says:

    If the children say “guilty”, then guilty it is. No one made them tell the horror stories that were told in court….or am I missing something? Is this not yet another account of children being labeled liars while the “responsible” adults walk away from the shame? I was alive for that story but for reasons of my own, chose not to delve into it too deeply, Now, I don’t know what really happened. Is someone serving time? Or did they all (but the children) get off scot-free?

    • Alethea says:

      Maribeth, there were never any convictions in the case. They got off, but will never be truly free. Their soul will always carry, and know, what they did.

      • maribeth merton says:

        Do we know if they went on to molest, torture and ruin other children’s lives? That would be a follow-up I would like to see.

        • Alethea says:

          I don’t know what happened to them afterwards Maribeth. But I will try to look into that.

  5. little nel says:

    I remember this case. It was one of the reasons that I decided to be a stay-at-home mother to my children and make sure that they were protected from sexual abuse.

    I could not bear the thought of my children being used for sexual purposes by an adult caretaker. My own experience as a child still taunted and threatened me in adulthood.

    I knew firsthand how sneaky and cunning “perps” were and it was just too risky for me to subject my children to a daycare facility with all the rules and regulations.

    • Alethea says:

      Little Nel, the disturbing thing is that, it is not just sexual abuse.

      Parents need to keep their kids out of day care for hundreds of reasons. The people that own and operate day care facilities and pre-schools are often pretty stupid, careless, reckless, drug-addicted, alcoholics, irresponsible, unreliable, and downright scarey to be put in charge of children.

      • little nel says:

        I agree, Alethea.

        I remember in college that one of my professors stated to the class that “daycare is better for children than mothers.”

        When she left the room, I stood up and addressed the class and asked them, “Who believes that daycare is better for children than mothers?” “Raise your hands.” NO ONE raised their hands in the classroom.

  6. Thank you so much I knew there was deeper information involved. I have much information on the Jordan MN case that I am going to go through. I am sorry just because it is ugly we don’t sweep it under the rug. I am so thankful to your posts because that is exactly what family court did to my reports of sexual abuse with my kids. Talk about a nightmare but I had no options left after awhile because you want normalcy to their lives and what the court did was give me false accusations, and gave perpetrator custody. Nightmare…. So every story you post I can relate to on every level. You are so on base.

    • Alethea says:

      Thanks Tiffini! I sure love the support and good vibes about my articles. Sometimes I might post something that people disagree with, or get angry about. If that happens, just take what you want, and leave the rest!

  7. smartnews says:

    Good article. The link for Denying Ritual Abuse of Children – Catherine Gould The Journal of Psychohistory 22 (3) 1995 is at

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