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Girls, 5 to 7, to Testify in Molestation Trial

August 23, 1985|TIM WATERS | Times Staff Writer

Five girls will take the witness stand in coming weeks to testify that a former playground aide at a now-closed South Bay preschool molested them in a school bathroom, the prosecutor said in opening arguments as the suspect's trial began.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Lisa Hart told jurors in Torrance Superior Court this week that the girls, who are between the ages of 5 and 7, will testify that the aide, Michael Ruby, 18, fondled their genitals in a bathroom at the Manhattan Ranch Pre-School in Manhattan Beach.

Ruby had worked part time at the Manhattan Ranch Pre-School for 10 months when he was arrested in July, 1984. He has pleaded not guilty to 17 counts of child molestation against six girls. Hart declined to say why only five of the girls will testify.

Ruby's court-appointed attorney, William MacCabe, did not specifically address the molestation charges during his opening remarks. Instead, he described the school to jurors as being "free and open and nothing hidden," saying it was the school's policy to leave the restroom's two doors open when it was occupied and to have school personnel attending the children at all times.

Soon after Ruby's arrest, the Manhattan Ranch Pre-School was closed by the state Department of Social Services amid allegations that the school swapped children for purposes of sexual and physical abuse with the nearby McMartin Pre-School. Ruby was the only employee arrested at Manhattan Ranch, which has been sold but remains closed.

Ruby originally was charged with 35 counts of molesting eight children at the Manhattan Ranch school. After a preliminary hearing, the number was reduced to 17.

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