One of the two defendants in the McMartin Pre-School molestation case testified Tuesday that she herself was a victim of child molestation, but said her parents never told authorities about it.
"(They) felt it was not the thing to do,” Peggy McMartin Buckey testified under cross-examination, adding that she concurred in that decision: ". . . I’m a person who believes in going to the (accused) person.”
Buckey, 62, who with her son, Raymond Buckey, faces 65 counts of molestation and conspiracy involving 11 youngsters, was not asked to elaborate about her claim of being molested. It came as prosecutors were asking Buckey if she--as parents have maintained--cited her own experience when questioned about alleged improprieties at the school.
While confirming she had told parents she herself was a victim, Buckey denied she had argued with them that it was not a “big deal” to be molested.
2nd Day of Cross-Examination
The admission that a defendant in the widely publicized molestation case, the longest and costliest criminal trial in U.S. history, was molested as a child capped the prosecution’s second day of cross-examination, which resumed after a recess of several days due to the death of a juror’s father.
In response to prosecution questions, Buckey described her son, Raymond, now 31, as a misfit and shy young man who was uncomfortable both with his peers and adults, preferred children, and had serious problems with drinking and marijuana.
Even as a small child, she said, her son “did not always feel accepted by his peers.”
Buckey sat at the defense table during his mother’s testimony and appeared unsettled during parts of it. He is expected to be the final defense witness. Both mother and son have pleaded not guilty and are free on bail.
Peggy McMartin Buckey testified that her son told her before he came to work at the preschool their family had operated for decades that he loved children.
“He told me he felt very comfortable, that he enjoyed working with children and felt children accepted him,” she testified. “He did not always feel that way about adults. The children liked him for what he was.”
Her son was able to “get down to a child’s level,” she said, explaining that, to her, that meant not acting superior to his young charges.
Buckey said that before and during the three years her son worked at the nursery school, she was aware that he was a troubled young man.
“Ray was trying to find himself,” she said. “He had low self-esteem.”
Trusted Her Son
Buckey insisted, however, that “I wouldn’t have had my son there (at the preschool) if I didn’t trust him.” She strongly denied neighbors’ accounts, presented by the prosecution, that he screamed in the school yard that she was a horrible mother, that he threatened to kill her, that he broadcast his misery and shouted obscenities saying his parents had messed up his life.
At one point in the cross-examination, Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin asked Buckey if she thought there was anything wrong with her son allowing children to sit on his lap.
Buckey said no, but confirmed that on one occasion she had checked to see if her son had become aroused.
“One time when he had first started (teaching) in 1981 and children were crawling all over him, when he stood up I looked,” Buckey testified.
Buckey said the only reason she checked was because a father, who objected to males teaching at the preschool, had complained.
“I had to think like other people think,” she said.
Buckey said she would not have tolerated her son molesting children, saying that if parents had confronted her with such allegations, “I would have called my son in and talked to him and I would have fired him and told him to get help.”
Buckey herself denied during direct testimony that she had ever molested a child.