What Was under the McMartin Preschool? A Review and Behavioral Analysis of the "Tunnels" Find

By Wyatt, W. Joseph | Behavior and Social Issues, Fall 2002 | Go to article overview

What Was under the McMartin Preschool? A Review and Behavioral Analysis of the "Tunnels" Find


Wyatt, W. Joseph, Behavior and Social Issues


ABSTRACT: The McMartin Preschool child abuse case began in 1983 in Manhattan Beach, California, and was one of the most visible cases in history. Although two trials were conducted and no convictions were obtained, some individuals continue to believe that dozens of children were sexually abused at the preschool. In 1990 an archeologist was hired to determine whether tunnels had existed under the school because some of the children had alleged that some of their abuse took place in tunnels under the building. The archeologist's report was issued in 1993. It concluded that evidence of back-filled tunnels had been found. This critical analysis of the archeologist's report concludes otherwise, that what the archeologist found was actually the filled-in remains of a rural family's trash pit that pre-dated construction of the school. Regarding artifacts discovered in soil under the preschool, alternative interpretations to those of the archeologist are given. A theoretical functional analysis of the variables that may have accounted for the archeologist's evident misinterpretation is presented.

Key words: McMartin Preschool, State v. Buckey, assessment of child sexual abuse, confirmatory bias, functional analysis, tunnels project

The McMartin preschool case in Manhattan Beach, California, remains one of the most controversial in the history of child abuse cases. The greatest weight of opinion now seems to be that the children's tales of ritual abuse were the product of inappropriate, leading and repeated questioning by investigators. However, there remains a cadre of professionals and non-professionals who believe that the abuse did occur. A number of the children had told stories of abuse in tunnels beneath the preschool. The prosecutor's investigators had found no tunnels, but parents remained convinced that their children's accounts of tunnels were factual. Those allegations were bolstered by an archeologist's conclusion (Stickel, 1993) that the remains of filled-in tunnels had been found under the preschool property. This article is a review and analysis of the archeologist's report.

THE MCMARTIN CASE

The McMartin case began in August 1983, when a parent reported to police that her two-year-old son had been molested by McMartin staff member Ray Buckey. Dozens of children were examined by mental health professionals who used techniques now thought to be inappropriate and likely to yield false reports of abuse (Ceci & Bruck, 1995). In time those examinations brought about more than three hundred charges of rape, fondling, oral copulation and other abuse, much of it ritualistic and done in tunnels under the preschool. The charges were lodged against Buckey, his mother Peggy McMartin-Buckey and five other women who worked at the preschool.

By January 1986 charges against all except Ray Buckey and his mother had been dropped due to lack of evidence. In January 1990, after a thirty-three month trial, the jury found the pair not guilty on fifty-two counts, but remained deadlocked on twelve other counts against Ray Buckey and one against his mother. Although the judge dismissed the lone remaining count against Peggy McMartin-Buckey, Ray Buckey was retried. When the second trial resulted in a hung jury, prosecutors decided not to try the case a third time and the legal case was over, seven years after it had begun (State v. Buckey, 1990). The case had cost $16 million to prosecute, left children and parents feeling abandoned by the legal system, created lingering clouds of suspicion over the heads of the accused, and generated questions about the practices of both the legal and child protection communities.

THE DIG

In 1993 archeologist E. Gary Stickel reported the findings of his dig on the preschool property (Stickel, 1993). Although it was not stated specifically in his 187-page report, evidently Stickel had been hired by parents of the preschoolers who felt that prosecutors had not sufficiently investigated the children's claims of tunnels under the preschool.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

What Was under the McMartin Preschool? A Review and Behavioral Analysis of the "Tunnels" Find
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.