Key Witness in Molestation Trial Admits Romance With Reporter Covering Story
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The jury in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial may not hear about a romance between a social worker who gathered evidence from children in the case and a newscaster who covered the story, a judge ruled Wednesday.
Superior Court Judge William Pounders said the defense had not shown that it was relevant to the trial.
The defense had suggested that Wayne Satz, a former KABC reporter, influenced the interviews that Kee MacFarlane conducted with children from the preschool as part of her job at Children’s Institute International. The attorneys also argued that her credibility might be damaged if jurors knew about the relationship.
″I don’t see from what’s been presented that there’s a substantial issue for the jury,″ Pounders said after hearing Ms. MacFarlane testify about the relationship outside the presence of the jury.
Ms. MacFarlane, whose testimony in pretrial hearings concerned her use of games and picture coloring to get children to talk of the alleged abuse, told the judge that her romance with Satz began after the interviews were completed.
Raymond Buckey, 30, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 61, are on trial on 100 molestation and conspiracy charges linked to their now defunct McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach. The case has been in Los Angeles courts for five years.
″We’re not trying to demonstrate that Wayne Satz obtained information from Kee MacFarlane to enhance his career,″ said defense attorney Dean Gits. ″What we’re trying to show is that Kee MacFarlane had a relationship with Wayne Satz to enhance her career.″
Ms. MacFarlane has denied being a source for Satz’s stories broadcast on KABC-TV on the McMartin case, although she acknowledged Wednesday that they discussed it at the time.
Satz, who is no longer with the television station, sat in the courtroom while Ms. MacFarlane was questioned. But Pounders ruled he was protected from testifying by California’s news reporter shield law.
Pounders said that although ″the relationship has an impact on the case,″ he would allow only general testimony about the affair during Wednesday’s hearing and no exploration of minute details, which he said would be prejudicial and might violate Ms. MacFarlane’s privacy rights.
He also limited testimony to late 1983 to March 1984, when Ms. MacFarlane ended her interviews with children and indictments were issued. He is previewing the testimony before jurors hear it.
Ms. MacFarlane said they met when Satz came to interview her for a general story on child molestations.
In late 1983, before stories about the case broke, Ms. MacFarlane said she received a phone message from Satz saying he wanted to discuss Raymond Buckey, who would later become a defendant.
She said she turned to a co-worker, Sandra Krebbs, and said, ″My God, Sandy, he’s gotten wind of the case.″
″He knew a lot of things about this case,″ she said. ″Some of them were things I knew. Some were things I didn’t know.″
At another point she said, ″I remember being shocked at what kind of information he had. It was startling to me. He seemed to know everything.″
″Did you ever become boyfriend and girlfriend with Wayne Satz?″ Gits asked Ms. MacFarlane.
″Yes,″ she answered after a brief pause.
″When, in your best estimation, did that happen?″ he asked.
″It was after March 1984,″ she said, but added she could not be sure because ″relationships evolve over time.″
Ms. MacFarlane did not say when the relationship ended. She has since married someone else. Satz was fired by KABC-TV last year in a dispute unrelated to the McMartin case.