Appeals Court OKs Suit by McMartin Defendant

A federal appeals court has ruled that a co-owner of the McMartin Pre-School in Manhattan Beach, acquitted of child molesting, may sue those people involved in the investigation for allegedly conspiring against her.

The decision allows Peggy McMartin Buckey to rewrite her dismissed lawsuit to claim that those she held responsible for her prosecution--investigators, prosecutors and a television company--conspired to harm her, each for individual motives unrelated to combatting crime.

In the 3-0 ruling, Judge Joseph Sneed of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the court was not giving an opinion on the ethics of such a suit, but was saying only that it is legal.

Buckey and her son, Ray, who both taught at the preschool, were tried on 52 felony charges, the only two of seven defendants brought to trial in a case that began in 1983. She was acquitted of all charges. The remaining charges against her son were dropped after juries at two trials acquitted him on some counts and deadlocked on others.

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