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Preschool At Center of Molestation Case Razed

May 30, 1990 GMT

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A bulldozer razed the McMartin Pre-School, bringing to an end a frantic search by parents for secret tunnels and hidden chambers where they claim their children were molested and engaged in satanic rituals.

Some of the parents held a news conference Tuesday to demand the state bar association investigate District Attorney Ira Reiner’s prosecution of the case, the longest and costliest criminal trial in U.S. history.

Raymond Buckey, 31, is the remaining defendant in a case dating to 1984 that once involved hundreds of child molestation allegations at the school. The six other defendants were acquitted or charges against them were dropped.

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Buckey is being retried on eight molestation counts unresolved by a jury that acquitted his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey.

In Manhattan Beach, construction crews Tuesday razed the single-story school building to make way for an office building.

Private investigator Ted Gunderson, a former FBI agent hired by parents and others sympathetic to the alleged victims said he found ″disturbed dirt″ beneath the school. He said it indicated tunnels and secret chambers once existed.

The district attorney’s office conducted a similar excavation several years ago but found no evidence of tunnels.

The parents’ group, who previously have criticized Reiner for allowing the trial to stretch indefinitely without success, Tuesday attacked him for refusing to help their excavation.

″We shouldn’t have to be paying for this,″ said JoAnne Farr, whose 12- year-old daughter attended the McMartin Pre-School.

Reiner has defended the prosecution and said he continued the case out of the parents’ desire for justice.

Parent Marilyn Salas said courts in California should supply a child’s advocate to help children through testimony and to instruct judges and juries on how children go through the process of remembering events.

She said recanting and then recalling details was normal for children but considered unreliable by adults. Acquittals in the McMartin case came after some of the children repeatedly changed their stories.

Salas said parents would like the state to change its statute of limitations to allow children time to grow up. The current statute gives people six years to bring charges in most crimes.