McMartin Case Raid Yields Rabbit Ears, Black Robes

Times Staff Writer

Authorities have seized a pair of rabbit’s ears, a black cloak, a black cape and black candles from the home of the girlfriend of an accused child molester who is an uncharged suspect in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case.

The chief prosecutor in the case said Monday that the find was “tremendously corroborative” of some preschoolers’ accounts of abuse.

Some children have said that a McMartin teacher cut off the ears of rabbits to frighten youngsters into remaining silent about molestations, and that teachers sometimes took children to a church for ceremonies involving hooded, black-robed strangers.


“I think it is highly significant that, after having testimony from two children about the manner in which (defendant Raymond) Buckey cut off rabbit ears, rabbit ears were found in the same place with what is obviously cult material,” said Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin. “I think it’s tremendously corroborative of what these kids are saying.”

Found in House

The items were recovered Thursday in a raid on a Lomita house that is rented by four adults, including the girlfriend of Robert H. Winkler, who was charged last December with child molesting in another case, authorities said.

“There very well may be a link between this Robert Winkler and Raymond Buckey,” Rubin said.

She said that some former McMartin pupils have identified Winkler through photographs as one of “the ubiquitous strangers” who figure in the case. Thus, she said, “it’s fair to say” that he is an uncharged suspect, although no other link has been established.

However, a Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Deputy Richard Adams, said no charges are being filed against Winkler or his girlfriend in connection with the raid, which was authorized by a search warrant and also turned up “adult pornographic material.”

Noting that more than one adult lived in the house, Adams said that investigators are “unable to link the items seized with any individual or crime.”

Winkler, 35, of Torrance, is being held in County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail pending a preliminary hearing on charges that he molested children he contacted through a baby-sitting service at a Torrance motel. His attorney, Ronald Capel, could not be reached for comment. However, he has told The Daily Breeze of Torrance that Winkler had never lived at the Lomita address.

Buckey, 26, who is being held without bail, is one of seven former McMartin teachers charged with a total of 208 counts of conspiracy and child molestation involving 41 youngsters. A preliminary hearing in the McMartin case is under way in Los Angeles Municipal Court.

Children’s Testimony

The raid, which was conducted by the Sheriff Department’s task force on sexual exploitation of children, followed testimony by two children at the hearing.

One, now 7 years old, told of being molested, photographed and threatened during “naked games” at the Manhattan Beach preschool, and of being taken on excursions to “a farm,” where he saw Buckey beat horses, and to a “circus house,” where people dressed in elephant costumes.

The other youngster who testified, now 10 years old, described how he and other children were taken to a church several times for candle-lit ceremonies involving hooded, black-robed people, who stood in a circle and moaned. The youngster said that after the robed people left, Buckey appeared with a live rabbit and “cut it up. Then he said: ‘If you tell anyone any of the secrets that happened at the school or here or anywhere, then this will happen to that person.’ ”

Defense attorneys have called the children’s accounts “phantasmagoric” and “crazy.”