The McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial
The McMartin Preschool case had its origins in a call placed to police in Manhattan Beach, California by Judy Johnson, the mother of a two-and-a-half-year-old son who attended the McMartin Preschool in 1983. Johnson told Detective Jane Hoag that her son was molested by a school aide, Ray Buckey, the 25-year-old son of the owner of the preschool. Although the fact that the young boy was unable to identify Ray Buckey from photos, and medical investigations of the boy showed no signs of sexual abuse, the police conducted searches of Buckey's home, confiscating such evidence as a rubber duck, a graduation robe, and Playboy magazines. Ray Buckey was arrested on September 7, 1983. After a lengthy trial, the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated, and the case was dropped by 1990 after an unsuccessful retrial. In discussion of the McMartin Preschool case, the controversial issue has been whether the children were molested or not. On the one hand, some people believe children may have been molested, but no proof was found to illustrate that the molestation took place at McMartin Preschool. On the other hand, some people question the techniques used in the investigation. In my own view, I agree with this point. I realize that many interviewers questioning children for witnesses are trained to gain a child’s trust. When investigators conduct multiple interviews, details they provide in their questions and statements are likely to find their way into the statements of children. Children will use their imagination and confabulate stories that are richly detailed but are a mix of fact and fantasy. I believe that the suggestive questioning about events that never happened can contaminate young children's memories with fantasies. Therefore, from the McMartin Preschool outcome, investigators have to learn the better ways of asking children questions. The McMartin Preschool abuse trial will forever be known as the longest and most...
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