Child Says Buckey Raped Her at Pre-School

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In testimony that was graphic but often sketchy and inconsistent with previous statements, the third and final child witness in the McMartin Pre-School trial said Thursday that Ray Buckey raped her and then threatened to harm her parents if she told.

The girl, now 13, said she feared Buckey after he cut off a rabbit's ears with scissors to underscore his threat.

Describing a sexual attack while she and Buckey were both naked and playing a game called "horsey" a decade ago, the girl said, "Ray was on the floor. I got on top of him and he touched me."

But she repeatedly answered, "I don't remember" when pressed for details on cross-examination, prompting defense attorney Danny Davis to ask sardonically:

"Gee, I bet it hurt . . . ?"

"Yes," the girl answered quickly.

"I'll bet you cried and screamed?" the exchange continued.

"Yes," she said.

"And no one came to help you?"

"No," she said.

The girl, who was 3 when she began attending the Manhattan Beach nursery school owned by Buckey's family, is being used by the prosecution to support three of the eight counts of molestation--alleging vaginal and anal penetration with the penis and fingers--remaining against the 32-year-old former teacher.

A jury acquitted Buckey of 40 counts in January and the district attorney is retrying him on eight of the 13 counts that were unresolved. He has maintained his innocence since his arrest seven years ago.

Two other girls have given similar accounts of being molested during games at the preschool.

Davis pressed Thursday's witness for such information as: Was Buckey wearing a short- or long-sleeved shirt before he stripped? Exactly what positions did they assume? And how is it that she formerly accused other McMartin teachers of molestation but now says only "Mr. Ray" assaulted her?

The child's answers did not always coincide with those she gave to an interviewer six years ago at a Los Angeles child abuse diagnostic center, nor those she gave at Buckey's preliminary hearing or first trial. She insisted, however, that her memory had not been influenced by the therapist who conducted the videotaped interview--which jurors have already seen--nor by conversations with family members.

Asked whether statements by the therapist had made her believe that Buckey was a bad person, the child glared at the defendant, then looked back to Davis:

"I already knew he was a bad person," she snapped.

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