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Ray Buckey Vows 'Fight to My Last Breath'

February 05, 1990|TRACEY KAPLAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

McMartin Pre-School defendant Ray Buckey, in his first public comments since he was acquitted last month on 52 molestation counts, vowed in a "60 Minutes" interview Sunday to "fight to my last breath" to clear himself of the 13 charges refiled against him.

In an interview with CBS commentator Mike Wallace, Buckey, 31, criticized the American judicial system, which kept him and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 63, locked up for years while they were tried in the longest and costliest criminal trial in history.

The Buckeys were found not guilty in January of molesting children at the family-run day care center in Manhattan Beach after a 6-year case--including a 2 1/2-year trial--that cost taxpayers more than $15 million.

But the Los Angeles Superior Court jury deadlocked on 13 remaining counts, and a mistrial was declared on those allegations.

Prosecutors announced last week that Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner decided to retry Ray Buckey on the 13 charges after extraordinary public lobbying by parents and child protection groups to rally public support for a retrial.

Superior Court Judge William Pounders set a March 9 trial date, but defense attorney Danny Davis has filed papers to remove Pounders--who presided at the first trial--from the case, a tactic that could delay the trial's opening.

Ray Buckey, who is free on his own recognizance, had not commented on the case before being interviewed by Wallace.

"I don't want to go through another McMartin trial, but I will, because I know I'm innocent," he told Wallace. "I'll fight to my last breath to get vindicated in the system in some way, because there's no end to what they've done to me. . . . I'm not going to roll over for something I never did.

"I saw what the system did," Buckey said. "I saw how it treated children. I saw how it treated adults. It doesn't work very well . . . but it worked worse for the defendants, because we can never clear our names."

Buckey also criticized some of the parents and others who marched in a rally to call for a retrial.

"These people are not quite all in kilter," he told Wallace. "Nothing that happened at the preschool is the cause of (the children's) hell.

"The cause of their hell is the product of the adults who took on this case and made it what it is."

Wallace commented that some members of the McMartin jury believed the alleged victims had, indeed, been molested.

"All I can reply to that is I know these children weren't molested at the preschool," Buckey said.

Peggy McMartin Buckey, who also was interviewed on "60 Minutes," repeated comments she had made last month about her family's innocence.

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