Prosecutors in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial moved today to drop more than a third of the charges after their case ended with three children refusing to testify, officials said.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said it had asked Superior Court Judge William Pounders to allow dismissal of 35 of the 100 counts of child molestation and conspiracy against main defendant Raymond Buckey, 30, and his 61-year-old mother, Peggy Buckey.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin said 27 counts were being dropped because the children had not appeared at the trial and eight other charges were being dropped “after a review of the evidence.”
She did not immediately specify what caused removal of the eight charges, which are based on the testimony of some children who appeared at the trial.
The prosecutors had been expected to drop 27 counts after three children refused to testify in the final months of the 17-month prosecution.
Two charges based on information from another absent child were retained after her parents were allowed to testify about her allegations.
Buckey and his mother had been charged with molesting a total of 14 children. Eleven youngsters are listed in the new complaint. One of them, named only as Michael J., who was the first complaining witness in the case, did not testify. But charges involving him remained.
The new complaint alleges 52 counts of molestation against Raymond Buckey and 12 counts against his mother. Both are charged in a single count of conspiracy.
The prosecutors sought to dismiss 27 of the counts against Buckey and eight counts against his mother.
The case began in 1984 with seven defendants and originally involved claims that 41 children had been molested at the now-defunct Manhattan Beach preschool.
After a two-year preliminary hearing, Dist. Atty. Ira Reiner dismissed charges against five former teachers, saying the evidence against them was “incredibly weak.”
The trial began in April, 1987. Prosecutors called their final witnesses last week, and the defense is scheduled to begin next week.