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Counseled McMartin Case Defendant : Minister Denies Hearing of Molestation

Times Staff Writer

A Redondo Beach minister who in the early 1980s counseled McMartin Pre-School defendants Raymond Buckey and his mother, Peggy McMartin Buckey, testified Thursday that the sessions had nothing to do with child molestation.

“I never discussed with Raymond Buckey sexual problems with children,” said Dr. Frank Richelieu, who described himself as pastor of the Church of Religious Science, a metaphysical and motivational denomination, and a licensed practitioner of prayer treatment.

Instead, he testified outside the presence of the jury, “I’ve seen Raymond on general matters regarding his direction in life, his self-image and self-worth, and at one time Raymond was going through a drinking experience.”

The clergyman said Peggy McMartin Buckey, who was already in counseling, had asked if he would see her son “and try to talk with him regarding the direction in his life, what he would like to do . . . not any emotional problems.”

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Counseling Sessions

Richelieu was subpoenaed by prosecutors, who maintain that the counseling sessions focused on what they say was Raymond Buckey’s sexual attraction to young children. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge William Pounders said he would reserve a ruling on whether the counseling sessions are protected by confidentiality laws until court resumes next Thursday, after a scheduled break, or whether they may be discussed in front of the jury.

Tempers flared both inside and outside the courtroom Thursday as each side attacked the other, and the judge at one point admonished the pastor to “calm down.”

In court, Richelieu said there was “not a word of truth” in a statement by Deputy Dist. Atty. Lael Rubin that entries in Virginia McMartin’s diaries referring to her grandson’s “problem” was a reference to his alleged sexual proclivity toward children. The prosecutor’s comment was contained in a 1987 Times article.

Asked afterward whether she had some basis two years ago for believing that a sexual problem with young children was the subject of that counseling and whether she had changed her mind, Rubin said: “I had a basis then, and as of about an hour ago rechecked the basis of my statement, and my response is still the same.” She said she could not reveal the basis for her belief “because it hasn’t been presented yet.”

Asked if she believes that Richelieu is lying, Rubin said, “What I’m suggesting is that he may have other motivations.”

Defense attorney Dean Gits, who represents Peggy McMartin Buckey, maintained that “all of the evidence that is now before the court demonstrates that Dr. Richelieu never counseled Ray Buckey for anything to do even remotely with child molestation.”

Lawyer Danny Davis, who represents Raymond Buckey, told reporters, “I agree with Richelieu,” and added that Rubin “is a liar.”

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No Written Rules

Richelieu said that while his church has no written rules about divulging what happens during counseling sessions, he was trained to respect the confidences entrusted to him by the Buckeys and others. The defense is seeking to block more detailed questions about the content of those sessions.

During cross-examination of Peggy McMartin Buckey, which resumed late Thursday, the judge has allowed testimony about Raymond Buckey’s alcohol and drug problems, his discomfort with peers and adults and preference for the company of children, and a neighbor’s account of Raymond’s loud arguments with his parents.

“Mrs. Buckey has painted the school and her conduct there in a particular way,” he explained to the attorneys, adding that “this tends to seriously cast” that in doubt. “If the descriptions here are correct, Raymond Buckey had a lot of problems that should have caused him to be removed from the preschool, aside from molesting children.”

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The Buckeys, now in their third year of trial, are charged with 65 counts of molestation and conspiracy involving 11 children who attended their Manhattan Beach nursery school.


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