An attorney representing one of seven teachers accused of molesting pupils at the McMartin Pre-School attempted Tuesday to cast doubt on the testimony of a 10-year-old boy who has given detailed descriptions of sexual abuse and animal sacrifices.
Brad Brunon, attorney for defendant Virginia McMartin, the 77-year-old founder of the Manhattan Beach nursery school, lost a bid to show portions of a videotape of a year-old interview conducted at a child abuse treatment center to back up his claim that the child had been coached in his testimony.
Municipal Judge Aviva K. Bobb denied the request, saying the boy had already testified that interviewers at Children's Institute International--where he first told his account of sexual abuse--had not told him what to say.
Brunon argued that the videotape would have shown that the boy's testimony of molestation at the now-closed nursery school was "the product of misguided questioning techniques."
Responding to Bobb's ruling, Brunon said it only pertained to a short portion of the taped interview, and that he would argue for other segments to be shown.
"The people at the institute had a preconception of what occurred and they geared their questions to that," Brunon said outside the courtroom.
The boy, recalling events that allegedly occurred six years ago, has testified that he was molested by his former teachers and forced to watch them perform animal sacrifices designed to scare him and other children into silence about their sex secrets.
He faced his former teachers across the courtroom for a fifth day Tuesday in the six-month-old preliminary hearing to determine whether the case that sparked a nationwide furor over child abuse will go to trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Brunon, often repeating questions he had asked earlier, quizzed the boy about the interview session he had with a therapist at the Children's Institute.
"Did she praise you when you said something bad about the McMartin school?" Brunon asked.
"No," the boy, known only as John Doe No. 9, responded.
"Did anyone help you remember what happened at the McMartin school?"
"No," the boy said.
"Did you say anything during the interview about 'naked' games?" Brunon asked.
"Yes," the boy said, backing up his earlier testimony of being molested at the school during a series of "naked" games.
Tuesday's hearing was frequently interrupted by Deputy Dist. Atty. Christine Johnston, who objected to Brunon's repetitive style of questioning.
At one point Johnston objected to Brunon's raised tone of voice and his arguing with the witness. Bobb declined to admonish Brunon, but said "we are getting too far afield here," and ordered a short recess.
Charged with 208 counts of molesting 41 children are the school's founder, Virginia McMartin; her daughter, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 58; Raymond Buckey, 26; his sister, Peggy Ann Buckey, 28, and former teachers Mary Ann Jackson, 57, Betty Raidor, 65, and Babette Spitler, 36.