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Raymond Buckey Will Take the Stand to 'Reveal All He Knows,' Attorney Says

July 22, 1987|CAROL McGRAW and LOIS TIMNICK | Times Staff Writers

Accused child molester Raymond Buckey will take the witness stand in his own defense in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case, his lawyer told the jury in his opening statement Tuesday.

"He (Buckey) will reveal all he knows about this case," attorney Daniel Davis said. "Please consider that there are victims on both sides."

Davis portrayed his client as a credible and sympathetic individual who--because of bungled interviews of children by prosecutor's therapists and the inexpert conclusions of medical evidence--ended up as a victim in one of the most bizarre and notorious child molestation cases in the country.

He described Buckey, who is accused of molesting 14 children and torturing and mutilating animals to force the children's silence, as a "normal human being"--who attended the same preschool as the children he is accused of molesting.

He noted that Buckey had perfect attendance in high school, attended college, coached sports, worked with children, and befriended many animals, including most recently the cockroaches in his jail cell. In closing, Davis beseeched the jury, "Keep an open mind when experts, parents and children speak, and weigh the evidence, no holds barred."

Outside the courtroom, he elaborated on why he decided to put his client on the stand.

"It seems obvious if you have listened to him in court. He is prepared to deal with the truth, even though it (testifying) may be difficult because he has been in jail so long."

Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 60, are charged with one count of conspiracy and 99 counts of molestation for allegedly sexually assaulting 14 children at the now-closed Virginia McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach.

Earlier in his remarks, Davis said he also would call as a witness a boy whose alleged sexual abuse triggered numerous charges against the school's teachers.

"You will hear from the child who is described as being the genesis of this case," he told jurors, adding that he will also call to the stand the child's father. The boy's mother died in December of liver disease.

"During the preliminary hearing, the prosecution had evidence that this child may have been molested while Raymond Buckey was in jail," said Davis, repeatedly blaming law enforcement officials for failing to investigate the case adequately or to reveal what they knew of the mother's claims.

The prosecutors have said they will call 13 of the 14 allegedly molested children as witnesses. They said they will not call the one child cited by Davis.

Davis repeatedly pointed to a letter sent by police to parents of McMartin pupils disclosing that the first child might have been molested. He credited the letter for setting off mass hysteria.

Davis said another key defense witness will be Glenn Stevens, a former prosecutor in the case who quit the office. Stevens said he became convinced that all of the McMartin defendants are innocent.

Buckey and his mother are the only McMartin teachers being tried, although seven were originally indicted and bound over for trial after a 17-month preliminary hearing.

The district attorney's office dismissed charges against the other five, saying there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.

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