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Two Former McMartin Defendants File Claims Against County

April 1, 1986

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Two women once accused of molesting children at a pre-school have filed damage claims against Los Angeles County, alleging they were victims of malicious prosecution and suffered emotional and financial damage.

″I personally have lost everything,″ Peggy Ann Buckey, a former teacher at the McMartin Pre-School, said at a news conference Monday. ″I lost my freedom, I lost my career ... all because of a witchhunt.″

The claims filed on behalf of Ms. Buckey, 28, and her grandmother, school founder Virginia McMartin, 78, do not specify the amount of damages sought. Similar claims were filed Monday against the city of Manhattan Beach, where the preschool was located.

The women’s attorney, James Davis, said he believes compensation for them should be ″in the seven figures.″

Charges against the two women and three others - former teachers Mary Ann Jackson, 57, Betty Raidor, 65, and Babette Spitler, 36 - were dropped in January by District Attorney Ira Reiner, who said there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed.

The charges had been upheld as sufficient for trial by Municipal Judge Aviva K. Bobb after an 18-month preliminary hearing.

Still facing trial in the case are Mrs. McMartin’s grandson, Raymond Buckey, 27, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 57, charged with a total of 101 felony counts of molestation and conspiracy in the alleged abuse of 13 children.

The damage claims, which Davis said he expects will be rejected, are a prelude to a lawsuit against the county and Children’s Institute International, which arranged interviews in which children from the school alleged they were molested.

The claims allege false arrest and imprisonment, battery, infliction of emotional distress, libel and slander, violation of civil rights and malicious prosecution.

Ms. Buckey lost her teaching license and life savings, while Mrs. McMartin lost two preschools she founded in Manhattan Beach and her house because of the prosecution, they told reporters.

Al Albergate, spokesman for the district attorney’s office, said that office had no comment on the claims.

Mary Emmons, executive director of Children’s Institute, said Monday, ″Our only reason for being involved is to help the children who came to us.″

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