Judge Denies Dismissal of Case Against Raymond Buckey
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Molestation charges in the McMartin Pre-School case will stand even though arguments over closed-circuit testimony by children have interrupted preliminary hearings more than 10 days, a judge has ruled.
Superior Court Judge Paul Turner on Monday denied a motion to dismiss charges against Raymond Buckey, 27, and five of the other six defendants after Buckey’s attorney argued the delay violated state law.
Buckey’s attorney, Daniel Davis, contended that a preliminary hearing must be held in continuous session and the defendant must be released or the case dismissed if it is interrupted more than 10 days.
Attorneys for the school’s 77-year-old founder, Virginia McMartin; her daughter, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 58; Peggy Ann Buckey, 29; and teachers Mary Ann Jackson, 57, and Betty Raidor, 65, joined in Davis’ motion.
Eliseo Gauna, representing Babette Spitler, 36, declined, saying he did not want his client’s case dismissed on a technicality when he felt she would be vindicated by the evidence.
Turner also heard arguments Monday on whether the alleged victims could testify via closed-circuit television in the preliminary hearing, being held to determine if there is enough evidence to try the defendants.
Turner said he was concerned about ″an unspoken issue,″ the right of allegedly molested children to tell their stories in court.
″How can we say there’s a sense of fair play and justice when a child who’s been molested is denied the opportunity to come into the courts of Los Angeles and make a statement about what happened?″ he said.
Deputy public defender Albert J. Menaster argued that the prosecution has denied the children the chance to speak by refusing to call 28 witnesses to the stand unless they were allowed to testify out of the defendants’ presence.
″They excluded the witnesses,″ said Menaster, who represents Peggy Ann Buckey. ″That’s their choice.″
Turner had temporarily halted the preliminary hearing after the prosecution appealed Municipal Court Judge Aviva Bobb’s ban on closed-circuit testimony.
Ms. Bobb had ruled that a new law could not apply because the 10-month-old hearing involving 41 alleged victims was under way when the law was passed.
The prosecution rested its case after Ms. Bobb’s ruling. Without the additional witnesses, she dismissed about two-thirds of more than 300 charges covering the period between 1978 and 1984 at the now-closed school.
Turner said that although he could not order Ms. Bobb to hold closed- circuit hearings, he can decide whether the new law can constitutionally apply to the McMartin case, and, if it does, order her to reconsider her decision.
An appellate attorney for the district attorney’s office, Richard W. Gerry, argued Monday that the legislature had clearly intended the closed-circuit testimony option to apply in the McMartin case.
Turner said he would not issue a ruling on the issue until attorneys file further written briefs Friday. He also said that following his ruling, he would extend the stay of the preliminary hearing for five days in order to give the unsuccessful party or parties a chance to appeal further.
Youngsters had testified that they were raped, sodomized and forced to play naked games by the McMartin staff. They also said animals were tortured during satanic rituals intended to frighten them into silence.