The judge in the McMartin Pre-School molestation trial said Thursday that he believes the case “has poisoned everyone who had contact with it.”
The comments by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders came in response to a news media request to make public the prosecution’s list of about 120 prospective witnesses who never testified.
Pounders angrily refused to disclose the names, saying those on the witness list have a right to privacy and he would not subject them to the “embarrassment and harassment” that has plagued others in the case.
“This case, in my view, has poisoned everyone who had contact with it,” the judge said.
“We’ve had two deaths in connection with this case,” he said, referring to Judy Johnson, the mother who first brought the McMartin case to police and who died in 1986 from the side-effects of alcoholism, and Paul Bynum, a former policeman who had worked as a McMartin defense investigator and who committed suicide the day before he was to testify in 1987.
“I’m very concerned that a trial that does not involve homicides would result in the deaths of two people,” Pounders said. “It’s very upsetting to this court.”
“This case has poisoned every person that contacted it,” he reiterated. “By that I mean every witness, every litigant and every judicial officer that had contact with it. It’s a very upsetting case.”
Raymond Buckey, 30, and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 61, are accused of molesting 11 of their pupils at the now-defunct McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach from 1978 to 1983.
On Wednesday, the judge dismissed 27 of 100 molestation and conspiracy counts against the two defendants because of insufficient evidence stemming from the refusal of three alleged victims to testify. He is expected to dismiss eight other counts at a later date.
When all 35 counts are dismissed, the Buckeys will remain charged with one count of conspiracy and 64 counts of molestation.