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The Abuse of Innocence: The McMartin Preschool Trial Paperback – October 29, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (October 29, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591021650
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591021650
  • Product Dimensions: 0.9 x 5.4 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,151,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1983, the family-run McMartin Preschool Nursery in Manhattan Beach, a suburb of Los Angeles, was subjected to a sexual-abuse investigation that lasted six years, cost taxpayers $16 million and initially identified 42 children as victims. Children testified about being sodomized, fondled, forced to drink blood and made to watch teachers hacking up dead bodies and live animals. At the pretrial hearings, there were seven defendants, including school founder Virginia McMartin, her daughter Peggy McMartin Buckey and Peggy's son Raymond. The Buckeys were indicted. There were two trials--only Raymond was charged in the second; both ended in mistrial, the last in 1990. The Eberles ( The Politics of Child Abuse ) show that the prosecution was a witch-hunt complete with suggestible children and hysterical parents as well as sleazy lawyers and "sex-abuse" experts whose vested interests perverted justice. Trial testimony, juicy courthouse asides and the authors' keen descriptive powers make the proceedings come alive. 30,000 first printing; $30,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In August 1983, the owners and teachers of the McMartin PreSchool in California were accused of sexually abusing one of their students. The accusations quickly mushroomed, until almost all of the children who attended were suspected of having been molested. A six-year trial and re-trial followed, with the McMartins eventually found not guilty. An interesting book, worth reading, could doutbless be written about the McMartin trial. This is not it. The Eberles provide an almost word-for-word transcript of the trial. Although the material is explosive, the authors indicate that the jury was often bored by the repetitive, nonresponsive testimony. Unfortunately, so is the reader. In addition, the Eberles are totally one-sided. They believe that the charges were completely trumped up and that the McMartins are "innocent victims." On the other hand, they argue that the prosecution was incompetent. Yet they provide no real documentation to back up their "facts." Somewhere in this horrible story there lies a kernel of truth. Were children molested? Were the McMartins subjected to a modern-day witch hunt? Does the truth lie somewhere in the middle? To answer these questions, the material in this book would have to be reduced and summarized and cogent analysis applied. Not recommended.
- Sandra K. Lindheimer, Middlesex Law Lib., Cambridge, Mass.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
With all the publicity surrounding the McMartin preschool trial, now over a decade removed, one would suppose that the definitive book on the subject-and this is certainly the definitive book, and a good one at that-would be a best seller, but it didn't happen. Why? Because the public wanted a villain, somebody to hate, and what they got were some innocent people wrongly accused. With that kind of result the public lost interest. The Jon Benet Ramsey case sold a lot better because the public had clear targets for its hate, John and Patsy Ramsey. Here, Ray Buckey was to be the designated fall guy with his creepy glasses and his nerdish style, but he wouldn't fall because he was clearly innocent of the sensational charges against him. So the public was stuck with no clear villain on whom to vent. The real villains, as graphically revealed in this book, were the press, the prosecutors and the social workers, especially Kee MacFarlane, who indoctrinated the children into describing perverted events that never took place.
This was written from the trenches on a daily basis when the overwhelming tide of public opinion was that of a lynch mob desperate to hang Buckey and his family from the nearest tree. The Eberles built a strong case in blaming the media for poisoning the public's understanding of the case, partially through incompetent reporters, and partially through a media lust to sensationalize. Part of what's interesting about this book is how it presages the O.J. trial, especially in the incompetence seen in the district attorney's office. Ira Reiner was D.A. at the time with Garcetti as a critical underling. It is scandalous that they would find the need to use a paid felonious informant to bolster their case against Buckey.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Engle on March 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Eberles have shone a much-needed spotlight of analysis on one of the worst miscarriages of justice in U.S. history: the McMartin Preschool case. After a brief introductory section to tell of how the fiasco all began, they give a detailed, blow-by-blow accounting of the trial, often with lengthy, word-for-word quotes of the lawyers' questions and the witnesses' responses. This is a good journalistic technique if not overdone; I often used it in reporting on criminal trials during my 39 and one-half years as a daily newspaper reporter.

The couple also illuminates the "child molester" witchhunt which has preoccupied this country for a number of years now. The battle cry, "We must protect the children!" which any sane adult obviously wants to do, has been used to justify some hideously extra-legal investigations, arrests, and prison sentences for palpably innocent people. The Eberles tell us about this in some detail.

The flaws in their book come in the areas of attribution and of sources. Over and over the authors tell of "a lawyer in the cafeteria" or "a heavyset woman" approaching them to comment on the trial, with no names or other hints as to identity. While this is sometimes necessary in reporting, excessive use of it as is done here makes the reader suspicious about the authors' fairness. At any rate, it made THIS reader suspicious. Several instances are recounted in which someone approaches outside the courtroom and says words to the effect, "You don't REALLY think they're innocent, do you?" Then one or the other of the Eberles proceeds to make the person look like an ignorant fool with a brilliant interrogation as to what they really know about the trial (nothing, in each case.) Once again, it's a little too pat, especially with no names to pin the quotes to.
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8 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Hayley on July 6, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I ordered this book after reading Sybil Exposed as I enjoyed the HBO movie Indictment about the case. I also had a personal interest in the case as a close family member lived next to the Buckeys and was dumbfounded when all this happened.

The book is easier to read than I expected being that so much of it is taken directly from the trial transcript. The childrens' accounts of what happened to them is so incredibly outlandish it's a wonder the prosecution had the nerve to bring the case to trial, but everyone believed they were incapable of lying. The extent the state went to to prove their case is mindboggling, and a reminder of what power run amok is capable of.

After reading this book, I ordered my sister a copy, and she too, was dumbfounded at reading the children's testimony as she has a legal background.
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9 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. A. Devlin on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
At the time this book was written is seemed very biased but now, years after the trial and after the Satanic Ritual Abuse scandals, it is closer to the truth than most imagined.

The authors of The Abuse of Innocence is written by two authors who have a predisposition against child sexual abuse allegations. However, they clearly state this opinion and I simply skipped those sections. Normally, I would not rate a book highly when the authors show such bias, but history has showed that when it came to the McMartin case, they were in fact correct.

This book illustrates the faults of the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, problems with the testimony of the witnesses, and most important, the inaccuracies of confessions obtained on procedures similar to the Miami Method.
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