From: Psychic Dictatorship in the USA, Alex Constantine (Feral House, 1995).
A fusillade of press reports, OpEd Columns and television documentaries have dismissed the McMartin case as a “witch hunt” born of mass hysteria, coercive therapy, false memories and greed. Yet all seven jurors attending a press conference after the second trial raised heir hands when asked who among them believed children had been abused at the preschool. So why the call to public denial from the press?
After the initial flurry of press coverage of the McMartin Preschool molestation case, a number of sympathetic reporters and psychiatrists publicly exonerated Ray Buckey and his co-defendants. This observer’s gallery of “skeptics” also deny that ritual abuse is a social problem. The argument consistently leads to the lament that the McMartin allegations were incited by mass hysteria, an ambitious district attorney and an incompetent child therapist. The hysteria thesis, promoted by a small group of pedophile defense psychologists, mostly, has appeared in publications of stature including the Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Harper’s, New Yorker, Newsweek,. The McMartin case was the subject of an Oliver Stone cable feature.
Media boosters of the defense neglect to acknowledge the most damning evidence in the McMartin case. Instead, they explain away superficial, carefully-sifted pieces of the case. In preparation for the trial, 389 toddlers were interviewed – nearly all of them described abuse at the preschool, and do to this day. Some 80 percent had physical symptoms, including blunt force trauma of sexual areas, scarring, rectal bleeding and sexual diseases. Interestingly enough, skeptics of ritual abuse in the public print often have dubious bona fides themselves. Some even participate secretly in the pedophile and occult undergrounds, most notably a couple of Los Angeles writers who have written the only two book available on McMartin, taking mental health professionals, police, the press and prosecutors to task for pursuing false allegations of abuse.
The Politics of Child Abuse, by Paul and Shirley Eberle, purports to be something of a definitive investigation. A blurb for the book exults: “This has got to be one of the most devastating political detective stories of all time. The authors smashed open the child abuse witch-hunt so everyone can see it for what it is – the way it really happened, and why. Here is the amazing story, starting with the first spectacular accusations, the marathon pre-trial hearing, the endless series of false accusations.” Since the Eberles’ first McMartin book appeared in 19896, the Eberles have achieved national status as child abuse experts. In courts of law their work is frequently cited, and they lecture widely to receptive audiences.
The Eberles once appeared as featured speakers at a conference held by Victims of Child Abuse Laws (VOCAL), an organization that feted The politics of child Abuse as positively revelatory. But Paul and shirley Eberle can hardly be considered credible reporters. Blurbs in their own pornographic tabloid, L.A. Star, failed to mention that in the 1970s the authors once ran an underground tabloid for pedophiles in Los Angeles, Finger, which delved heavily into sadomasochistic sex, sex with children and sex acts involving human excrement. Finger contained sexual drawings by children and pedophile erotica, including “My First Rape,” “She was Only Thirteen,” “Sexpot at Five,” and “What Happens when Niggers Adopt White Children.” One issue featured a cover photo of two naked adults reclining amid a pile of inflated dolls. A letter to Finger declaimed: “I’m a pedophile and I think it’s great a man is having sex with his daughter…. Would like to see pics of nude girls making it with their daddy, but realize its too risky to print.”
The book’s publisher, Carole Stuart of Lyle Stuart & Co., told Ms. magazine that the Eberles have been “friends of the family for years.” In The Politics of Child Abuse, the Eberles claimed that since the McMartin arrests, “we have been barraged with hundreds of sexual abuse cases, in which many people have been sent to prison for staggeringly long terms on little or no evidence.” That the Eberles themselves remain at large would seem to contradict the notion that child abuse laws are stringently over-enforced. The Eberles attempt to portray every abuser as a victim of the justice system: We believe that every molestation case in which there has been a conviction should be reopened and reviewed. There is convincing evidence that innocent people have been imprisoned, that naive juries and judges were unable to believe the defendants would be brought to trial if no crime had occurred, and defense attorneys have not been allowed to bring all the pertinent facts before the public.
Los Angeles attorney Sally Dichter, in a book review, argued that the Eberles have “nothing to offer to any discipline.” The book she lamented, “is an attempt to vindicate every individual who has been convicted of child abuse.” Considering their credentials as child pornographers, of course the Eberles, as Dichter discovered, believe “every molestation case in which there has been a conviction should be reopened and reviewed.” Dichter found this point of view unbelievable: “The Eberles seem intent on convincing the reader that child abuse never occurs.” The authors “skepticism” of ritual child abuse is shared by Gerald Larue, professor emeritus of Biblical history and archeology at the University of Southern California. Larue is one of the principals behind the Noah’s Ark hoax, which culminated in February 1993 with a two-hour CBS prime-time special, “The Incredible Discovery of Noah’s Ark, billed by CBS as a documentary. Scholars immediately denounced it. The network refused to retract.
Satanism in America, a book that Larue co-wrote, attributed the McMartin case to a “satanic panic” incited by wild-eyed “religious fanatics, opportunists and emotionally unstable survivors whose stories simply are not to be believed” —- an agonizing irony given Larue’s instigation of the Noah’s Ark hoax. He argues that the “child abuse hysteria sweeping the country us being fueled by people for whom facts have no meaning. They invent ‘facts.'”
Langley Connections and the Rise of the Child Abuse Backlash
Another “expert” who has dismissed McMartin as a classic witch-hunt is Dr. Douglas Besherov, once the director of the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. He is also a directory of the rabidly right-wing American Enterprise Institute, a Washington D.C. think tank To supplement his weighty credentials, Besherov writes for academic social and political quarterlies with long histories of collaborating with the CIA for propaganda purposes. He is a coeval of Irving Kristol, a veteran CIA psychological warfare specialist. In 1976, the Congressional Church committee hearings revealed that the CIA is deeply entrenched in the American press. Some 400 journalists, it emerged at the hearings, had collaborated with the Agency at least once. CIA propagandists like Besherov and Kristol provide others in the field with a scholastic support base, and mold opinion on campus. with such CIA-anchored academic journals as Encounter and The Public Interest, both edited by neo-con Kristol. In 1986, Public Interest published a monograph by Dr. Besherov entitled “Unfounded Allegations – A New Child Abuse Problem.” Besherov opens with the observation of legal scholar Sanford Katz that “the maltreatment of children is as old as recorded history. Infanticide, ritual sacrifice, exposure, mutilation, abandonment, brutal discipline and the near slavery of child labor have existed in all cultures.”
Dr. Besherov, left dry-eyed by such conditions, blamed the media and mandatory reporting laws for dragging child abuse out of the closet (where he seems to prefer it) and blowing the severity of the problem out of proportion. Besherov’s influential follow-up article, “Doing Something About Child Abuse: The Need to Narrow the Grounds for State Intervention,” was published in 1985 by Irving Kristol and the American Enterprise Institute. In it, Besherov argues that most allegations of child abuse are statistically unfounded. His slipshod use of statistics drove the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) to publicly find him responsible for leading the public “to believe that child abuse is leveling off or that, as reports increase, the level of substantiation decreases.” The CWLA notes that its survey results indicate a “substantial increase in reports,” and “a stable rate of confirmation,” directly contradicting Besherov’s statistical red herring. Turning to the children removed from their homes by social workers, Besherov states flatly: “According to data collected by the federal government, it appears that up to half of these children were in no immediate danger at home and could have been safely left there.”
The government “data” cited by Besherov derives from a study conducted by the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect. The authors of the study told New York Times reporter David Hechler that “the information is not there” to support Besherov’s assertion that half of all abused children left in the custody of their parents are in “no immediate danger.” “He has used our statistics in this case to prove a point when (he) simply can’t do it,” a Center researcher told Hechler. When asked for his response, the AEI scholar refused to comment. By fabricating statistics, Besherov reveals himself to be a propagandist. Have unfounded allegations led to a national McCarthyite frenzy, as Besherov contends? “I’m sure there are false allegations,,” concedes David Finkelhor, a sociologist specializing in child abuse. “I’m sure when people are caught up in false allegations it’s terrible.” But in criminal cases of all kinds, “there’s always the possibility of false allegations, and I don’t think they’re more severe in the area of child abuse that they are in — I want to say something innocuous – people making false allegations about having had money stolen from them, or false allegations of embezzlement.” Besherov’s work has given rise to such hysteria-producing diatribes as “False Accusations of Child Abuse: Could it Happen to You.” (Women’s Day, July 8, 1986), and “Invasion of the Child Savers: No One is Safe in the War Against Abuse” (Progressive, September, 1985) – both are adventures in hyperbole, like Besherov’s cooked statistics.
“Family abuse,” by A.C. Carlson, another protégé of Irving Kristol. appeared in Reason magazine, a publication that has frequently runs CIA disinformation. Hechler writes that Carlson has gone “even further than Besherov, inflating the unfounded rate beyond belief.” Erroneously, in fact, Carlson laments that “the victims pile up,” like corpses in a pile, and commiserates needlessly with “the sky-rocketing number of parents and teachers falsely accused of child abuse.”
Ritual abuse “skeptics” with CIA connections are covering up the latest phase in Agency-sponsored mind control experimentation. For thirty years Agency scientists have collaborated with cults (many of them founded by the government) to conceal the development of mind control technology. Jim Jones and the People’s Temple was one product of the alliance. McMartin was another. Both episodes have been buried in disinformation. The campaign to mislead the public about ritual abuse is ambitious, rivaling the campaign to conceal the facts in the murder of John F. Kennedy. The smokescreen is also explained in part by reports implicating the CIA in child prostitution for the purposes of political blackmail – a variation on the age-old sex trap. CIA agents have been directly involved in organized child sex rings. In Enslaved (1991), an investigation of the worldwide slavery underground, Gordon Thomas found Agency participation in the kidnap of Latin American children “flown across the border in light aircraft, and sold to child sex rings, or sold so their organs could be used in transplants.” Some of the pilots, Thomas discovered, “made two or three flights a day. The more experienced used Beech 18s because of the aircraft’s capacity and maneuverability. The majority of the fliers were mercenaries who had flown for the CIA.”
Ray Buckey’s father, Charles, worked for Hughes Aircraft. There is an old adage that holds “Hughes is the CIA.” Charles Buckey built the McMartin Preschool. According to carbon dating readings, the tunnels unearthed beneath the preschool were dug in 1968 – the year the school was built. Buckey Sr. testified on the stand that there were no tunnels. The media has been completely silent on this score, which brings us to…
The Tunnel Cover-Up
El Paso reporter Debbie Nathan, utterly convinced of the defendants’ innocence, entered the fray in The Village Voice, and has appeared in newspapers across the country, including The L.A. Weekly, Sacramento Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, and elsewhere. She has been honored with the Free Press Association’s H. L. Mencken Award, and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism prize. She is a leading proponent of the “mass hysteria” thesis, the notion that many child abuse allegations are “unfounded.” Her cavalier dismissal is not supported by objective research. Dr. David Chadwick of San Diego’s childrens’ Hospital, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (May 26, 1989), contends that 8 percent of all abuse allegations are unfounded, at most, and are “rather easily distinguishable in a careful review.”
At times it is difficult to tell whether Nathan is a “skeptic” or an apologist of sexual abuse. “Most pedophilia,” she contends, “consists of caressing and fondling. for most children, these experiences appear to be at best confusing, at worst traumatic. But others seem to willingly participate, and some adults recall that while still legally minors they accepted, even welcomed, sex with grown-ups.” Nathan doesn’t condemn the abuser. After all, “compared to the abuses of a child protection movement gone mad, could incest be any worse?”
Alex Cockburn is a Nathan supporter, and has on occasion gotten caught up in her pro-pedophilic obfuscations, as in this diatribe from The Nation for March 8, 1993: As a Miami-based anthropologist, Rafael Martinez, consultant to the Dade County Medical Examiner’s Office, told Nathan, in traditional Latin American cultures “kissing and hugging is common with children up to three or four years old. It is common for females to kiss children all over the place – including on the genitals.
The practice of kissing children on the genitals may be traditional in some cultures, but it is frowned upon by the Manhattan Beach preschool licensing board. Alex Cockburn’s skepticism toward ritual abuse was summed up in an editorial appearing in the February 8, 1990 Wall Street Journal, “The McMartin Case: Indict the Children, Jail the Parents.” The son of a British spy, and a loquacious defender of the Warren Commission, Cockburn has such strong feelings about the McMartin case that he once publicly maligned an editor of the L.A. Weekly for refusing to print a recommendation that “the tots bearing false witness in the McMartin preschool case be jailed for perjury.”
His primary source on the subject of child abuse, Debbie Nathan, is herself something of a false witness. In ‘What McMartin Started: The Ritual Abuse Hoax” (Village Voice, June 12, 1990), Ms. Nathan moaned that “children at McMartin told of being molested in tunnels under the school. None were ever found, but until recently parents were still digging.” In fact, 30 days before Nathan’s article appeared, the tunnels were discovered beneath the preschool by scientists hired by the parents, confirming the testimony of the children. The project employed a team of archeologists from local universities, two geologists, a professional excavator, a carbon-dating specialist and a professional photographer to document the dig’s progress and findings. The longest tunnel was six feet beneath the preschool, running eastward 45 feet from the southwest wall, and ten feet along the north wall. The tunnel walls were held in place by support beams and a roof of plywood and tarpaper. A branch of the tunnel led to a nine-foot chamber (the “secret room” described by the children?). Another extended from the preschool to the triplex next door, surfacing beneath a roll-away bathtub. Forensic tests on thousands of objects found at the site – including two hundred animal bones – were conducted.
Until the tunnels were found, the L.A. Times covered the dig – with a smirk. The parents and scientists involved were portrayed as crack-pots – until the existence of the tunnels were substantiated by experts, at which time the newspaper abruptly stopped reporting the story. the public was left with the false impression that the search had failed. Critics of the excavation pointed out that District Attorney Ira Reiner had already searched for tunnels. At best, this is a half-truth. Reiner’s team tore up a bit of floor tile, but did not even bother to remove the glue that held it in place. The D.A.’s team, as it happens, dug up the lot next to the preschool, not underneath. “Actually,” McMartin mother Jackie MacGauley, who supervised the excavation, notes, “we were the first to dig on the property.” The search for the tunnels was undertaken with ground-penetrating radar to probe for inconsistencies in the soil. A bell-shaped area of disturbed earth was discovered along the foundation of the west wall. The tunnels beneath the opposite wall was unearthed (precisely where the children said it would be found all along) beneath the foundation. A [passage had been knocked through the concrete. “It was interesting,” MacGauley told L.A.’s Pacifica Radio, “because a lot of the child development specialists, psychiatrists and therapists across the country thought that it was some psychological phenomenon that the kids would talk about tunnels. Somehow that idea got ‘planted,’ and they had all these theories as to why all the kids would talk about something like this. It obviously couldn’t be true. And the district attorney at the time just flatly did not believe it, and really didn’t want to look.” Neither did the press.
A Cottage Industry of Child Abuse Debunkers
“MODERN WITCH-HUNT – CHILD ABUSE CHARGES” bawled a Wall Street Journal editorial for February 22, 1993. But the tone of the column was dry and high-toned. Dr. Richard Gardner, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, cautioned that “a great wave of hysteria” had gripped the country. In the early 90s, the mass hysteria premise was touted by big city newspapers and magazines of elite stature, all attempting to persuade – with evident bias and inflated “expert” opinion – that false child abuse charges were endemic. This school of disinformation coaxed public opinion with dire exhortations of a child abuse witch-hunt. In his Wall Street Journal comments, Dr. Gardner warned that a great wave of hysteria, “by far the worst” in history, the most devastating “with regard to the number of lives that have been destroyed and families that have been disintegrated.”
Gardner’s basic argument is that allegations of child abuse are often fabricated by parents embroiled in custody disputes – another explanation not supported by statistics, the ones Gardner ignores. One study found that a mere two percent of all abuse accusations stem from visitation and custody disputes. Other researchers have placed the percentage slightly higher.) As for “mass hysteria,” one of the earliest promoters of this thesis was Ralph Underwager, co-author with his wife, Hollida Wakefield, of Accusations of Child Sexual Abuse. “Few physicians will wish to invest the time and money ($70) to own or even read this book,” complained a reviewer for the Journal of the American Medical Association. “It is of little value to those who work with abused children except as it may be important to be aware of all points of view. The book will be doubtless be useful to attorneys defending persons accused of sexual abuse of children. It appears to have been written particularly for that audience…. The authors cite over 700 references, but they do not really review this body of literature. When a given reference fails to support their viewpoint, they simply misstate the conclusion.”
Since 1974, Dr. Underwager has been the director of the Institute for Psychological Therapies in Northfield, Minnesota. He has since been frequently called upon to provide expert testimony – in the late ’80s he spent 60-70 percent of his professional life shuttling between courtrooms. He is the author of numerous articles debunking the credibility of ritual abuse victims. Dr. Underwager has frequently been cited by Debbie Nathan as a leading authority on the subject. Lisa Manshel, author of Nap Time, an account of the New Jersey ritual abuse case, found that “child sexual abuse was not his field of knowledge,” but “it was his field of courtroom practice. He proliferated the opinion, ‘No one knows how to tell accurately whether a child’s been abused’ throughout the nation’s courts.” He has testified in most states, and by satellite in foreign countries, before at least 200 juries.” Dr. Underwager once stated on the stand that he considered it “more desirable that a thousand children in abuse situations are not discovered than for one innocent person to be convicted wrongly.” Dr. Underwager, a founder of the False Memory Syndrome foundation, is an ordained Lutheran minister. He believes, he once said in an interview appearing in an Amsterdam journal for pedophiles, , that sex with children is not only acceptable, but “God’s will.”
Q: Is choosing pedophilia for you a responsible choice for the individual?
Underwager: Certainly it is responsible. What I have been struck by as I have come to know more about and understand people who choose pedophilia is that they let themselves be too much defined by other people. That is usually an essential negative definition. Pedophiles spend a lot of time and energy defending their choice. I don’t think a pedophile needs to do that.
Underwager insisted that pedophiles “should attack the concept, the image, the picture of the pedophile as an evil, wicked and reprehensible exploiter of children.” Following the interview, Underwager was forced to resign as a founding member of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation (which is largely directed by CIA psychiatrists with backgrounds in mind control experimentation) The London Observer for December 12, 1993 reported that Dr. Underwager denied ever condoning sex with children. He added, however, that “scientific evidence” had demonstrated that “60 percent of women sexually abused as children reported that the experience was good for them. He contended the same could be true for boys involved with pedophiles..
The Descent of Mann
In a five-part series that appeared after the hung jury verdict of Ray Buckey’s first trial, Los Angeles Times reporter David Shaw found that the newspaper’s research files explained little of “the crucial behind-the-scenes role played by screenwriter Abby Mann.” Mann’s writing staff and circle of disinformationists have shaped public opinion on the McMartin case. Noel Greenwood, an L.A. Times editor, has described the wall of pro-Buckey PR thrown up by Mann and friends as “a mean, malevolent campaign conducted by people … whose motives are highly suspect and who have behaved in a basically dishonest … and dishonorable way.” Abby Mann, an Oscar recipient for a film about the Nazi war crimes trial, Judgment at Nuremburg (an oxymoron, since there was precious little justice at Nuremburg, a carefully-managed show trial that culminated with the execution of a small clutch of Nazis, minor prison terms for some – and recruitment of thousands of others by the CIA.) From the beginning, Mann was a vociferous advocate of the McMartin defendants. “We like to think we are different from Salem,” Mann sniffed at the resolution of Ray Buckey’s first trial. “I don’t believe that anything happened at that school.”
Abby Mann has worked diligently, largely back-stage, on behalf of Buckeys. It was Mann who first interested Sixty Minutes in the McMartin case. The November 2, 1986 broadcast was decidedly biased in favor of Ray Buckey. Defense attorney Danny Davis characterized the segment as “wholly sympathetic to the defense point of view.” Sixty Minutes led off with the camera panning a long couch and five of the original defendants. Mike Wallace asked: “Do these women look like child molesters?”
New York Times reporter David Hechler noted “gaping holes in the story. Why were no police or D.A.’s investigators interviewed or even mentioned? And if Ira Reiner believed the case was so weak against the five defendants, why did he wait until the five-month preliminary hearing was completed before dropping the charges? These questions were never asked.” The innocence of the defendants was assumed by Wallace and crew as a foregone conclusion, and the charges against them were framed as the aberrations of nattering lunatics. Most of the Sixty Minutes segment on McMartin was taped in Abby Mann’s living room. But heavily-biased media coverage was only one of the strategies quietly enacted by Abby Mann. When Deputy District Attorney Glenn Stevens was caught leaking information on the prosecution’s case to Mann, he was forced to resign. No charges were brought against him. From the Los Angeles Times. Gaining the confidence of the McMartin defendants, the Manns were ultimately hired as “investigators” for the defense. That and their earlier alliance with former prosecutor Glenn Stevens sparked charges from parents of alleged child molestation victims of a conspiracy to obstruct justice for monetary gain. After Los Angeles Tmes reporter Bob Williams met Abby Mann, he wrote a flurry of memos charging the coverage of Lois Timnick, the paper’s reporter on the McMartin beat, with extreme bias favoring the prosecution. The accusation was investigated by Noel Greenwood, the regional news editor at the Times. Greenwood concluded that it was Williams who’d acted with extreme bias, not Timnick. Greenwood’s memoes state that Williams’ memos were “reckless and irresponsible.” Williams had “undermined a fellow reporter and seriously harmed the credibility and effectiveness of the Times.” Williams was temporarily suspended without pay. Shortly thereafter, he went to work for Abby Mann. Williams surfaced next as a consultant to Mary Fischer, whose “A Case of Dominoes” in Los Angeles magazine drew upon the argument (first postulated by the child pornographers Paul and Shirley Eberle), that former District Attorney Robert Philobosian initiated the McMartin prosecution for political gain.
Fischer once admitted to the late Wayne Satz, the KABC television reporter who broke the McMartin story, that she wrote the article under the direction of Abby Mann. “There was never any case at all,” Fischer wrote with absolute certainty. “At the very least, it is a blueprint for preying on public fears.” Fischer has gone so far as to claim that therapists, parents and children attending McMartin masterminded a “conspiracy” to harass and imprison innocent people. When pressed on one occasion by Carol Hemingway, a Los Angeles talk show host, Fischer was unable to offer supporting evidence of conspiracy (as McMartin parents did), nor could she explain the motives of the conspirators. Fischer did her utmost to dismiss the medical evidence that molestation took place at the preschool. In October, 1988 the Los Angeles Times reported that medical examiners of the original 13 children scheduled to testify found “scars, tears, enlarged body openings or other evidence indicating blunt force trauma consistent with the repeated sodomy and rape they described.”
One of the children bled from the anus. Some contracted venereal infections. Yet Fischer found relevant the findings of a Fresno pediatrician who refused to testify at the first McMartin trial. The 1987 study, summarized by Fischer, concluded that “any kind of irritation – not just sexual abuse – may damage children’s genitals.” This reader, at least, was left to ponder forms of “irritation” that might leave the McMartin children with chlamydia, confirmed by medical examinations and difficult to explain away. Fischer’s follow-up McMartin story in Los Angeles for October, 1993 opined that a “hysterical tone” in press reports on McMartin was established by Wayne Satz. who died of heart failure in 1992, “causing some to speculate it was karma,” wrote Fischer, an ersatz and mean-spirited elegy. “I still don’t know how anyone could believe all that bull,” Virginia McMartin told her. “Especially with a school as wide open as ours and people coming and going at all times. Or who could actually believe there were tunnels.. (The archeological team that led the excavation – ignored by Fischer – could have given her a guided tour.) “It shows the power of the media.”
Apparently Abby Mann has a need for Ms. Fischer and the other writers in his employ. A best-selling Hollywood biographer (speaking on condition of anonymity) offers this insight into the career of Abby Mann. “He’s incapable of writing scripts himself. It’s true,” he said, “he can’t write. Abby keeps a fairly large stable of ghost writers to produce scripts in his name.” Who is Abby Mann? Mae Brussell, the late Carmel-based political researcher, speculated in a November, 1987 radio broadcast that Mann is a covert operator posing as a Hollywood progressive, plying extensive media connectioins to influence public opinion. Mann’s behind-the-scenes manipulations, ghosts and an exhaustive supply of funds and press contacts, support the hypothesis that Abby Mann is a media mole. Indictment, yet another disinformation effort supposedly written by Abby and Myra Mann, premiered on May 20, 1985 on HBO. The movie was produced and directed by Oliver Stone. As a political researcher, I had taken more than a passing interest in Stone’s film JFK, and couldn’t help but note that the media assault on Stone’s bore a resemblance to Mann’s campaign to discredit the McMartin children. The day after an announcement of the “secret” project already underway appeared in Variety, I contacted Stone’s office and spoke with Jean Marie Burke, a researcher for Ixtlan Productions, Stone’s company in Santa Monica. I informed Ms. Burke that much of the information about McMartin in the corporate media was disingenuous, beginning with the Eberles.
She brightened up. “Oh, the Eberles – I have their books right here!” She went silent when I told her that Paul and Shirley Eberle were child pornographers. I sent her a package of accurate information on the case by certified mail, then contacted her boss with a letter informing him simply that he had hold of a bad project, which had already been shot and was in the editing stage Stone wrote back, asking me to clarify. My response follows:
Mr. Stone: McMartin is poorly understood by most people because a disinformation gambit is afoot to discredit the children’s¹ testimony — a fusillade, in fact, similar to the one you were treated to after JFK. You asked me to clarify my objections. Consider how difficult it was to sort through and communicate the multitude of facts relevant to the killing of John Kennedy. And then recall how a carefully-conceived film on the assassination can be explained away with a glib “no evidence” from an Edward Epstein or Dan Rather. This is the problem I¹m up against with McMartin. There is a complex story behind the abuse — it involves CIA mind control experiments, and this is largely what the plants in the establishment press, and fronts like the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, are concealing. (Nine out of ten psychiatrists in both the U.S. and Great Britain from large samplings believe ritual abuse to be a very real social problem. But the media inevitably talks only to the one of ten who deny, and many of those are experimental scientists on the CIA payroll.) You now find yourself on the same side (of the McMartin argument) as Alex Cockburn (you recall the knock-down-drag-out Nation debate with a leading progressive who rejects key crimes of government ((including the Kennedy assassination)) for high-toned, but ultimately silly reasons), Newsweek, etc. That alone should make you uncomfortable in the extreme. One of your researchers brightened up when I mentioned the only two books available on McMartin, both written by Paul and Shiirley Eberle. She knew those books inside out. The problem is, the Eberles published child pornography in the 1970s — garishly packaged in an underground rag called Finger — featuring adults having sex with children, children with excrement smeared on them, children in lewd positions and posing provocatively. This ludicrous pedophile sheet ran stories with such unsavory testimonials as “She was Only Thirteen,” “What Happens when Niggers Adopt White Children,” “My First Rape,” and so on. Don¹t bother to read the McMartin books, if you haven¹t already. Each page is full of factual errors and conscious distortions. Your movie will perpetuate the Eberles’ disinformation. But the LA Times will love it. (Buffy Chandler told a source of mine, in a moment of rage at her family, that her parents (the owners of the L.A. Times) funded weird genetic experiments years ago. This is no more bizarre than some of the things done in pre-schools around the country, and may explain the newspaper¹s change of attitude after the initial reporting.)
But Noel Greenwood, a Times editor, knew what he was talking about when he said there is a “mean-spirited campaign” in play to slant the truth about McMartin. Abby Mann is a key proponent. His attorney threatened to sue if I didn’t retract my comments when an early version of my research appeared several years ago. I did not retract. In fact, the newspaper, Random Lengths in Long Beach, backed me. Others appearing in the story threatened me. They did not sue. Why not? They made such a noise. Now they are the sources of your movie, still making noise about “innocence abused,” and it¹s hollow.
They contend there is no evidence that children were abused at McMartin. On the contrary, there is an abundance of evidence. But the DA had no real intention of gathering it. Neither did the press. Same as JFK, eh? The CIA connection to cults around the country began in 1963. The story was told by a Berkeley psychologist in a thesis entitled “The Penal Colony,” which was presented at a psychiatric conference in San Francisco by Congressional aide Joe Holsinger after Leo Ryan was killed at Jonestown. The hybrid was conceived because people were asking questions about experiments at McGill, the University of Pennsylvania, John Hopkins, UCLA, Honeywell, NASA and other haunts of the CIA’s MKULTRA mind control fraternity. Jonestown was one product of the association. Another, more recent example was the Solar Temple killings in Switzerland. The British press reported that this cult was running arms to Australia and South America, and laundering the proceeds at BCCI. The American press couldn’t find this information. What does this tell you?
Buckey Sr. testified that he did not have tunnels dug beneath the preschool. Why would anyone do that? Five scientists have put their reputations on the line to confirm that there are tunnels. One, a carbon-dating specialist, discovered that the tunnels were excavated in 1968. That was the year the preschool was built. It was built by Charles Buckey. He lied on the stand. The kids gave fairly accurate descriptions of the tunnels. Did Abby?
Regards, Alex Constantine
Despite this protest, and threats of a boycott of HBO from children’s advocacy groups around the country, Indictment aired anyway. The movie simply reinforces the many misconceptions the public has been force-fed since Abby Mann became involved in the case. The Most Hated Man at the L.A. Times In January, 1990, after the anti-climactic, deadlocked verdict of the second trial, the Los Angeles Tmes ran a four-part series by media critic David Shaw, trashing the paper’s own coverage of the McMartin case. Shaw described press coverage of the case as a “media feeding frenzy” ranking with exposes of Gary Hart, Oliver North and Dan Quayle. “More than most big stories,” Shaw explained, “McMartin at times exposed basic flaws in the way the contemporary news organizations function. Pack journalism. Laziness. Superficiality.” Daily newspaper coverage, he argued, was contaminated by “cozy relationships with prosecutors,” and a competitive furor “that sends reporters off in a frantic search to be the first with the latest shocking alllegation.”
Shaw’s McMartin series won the Times its 18th Pulitzer, but few reporters attended the champagne party thrown in his honor. “Most people don’t like him,” Times staffer Lee Dye told a reporter for Los Angeles magazine. “He really is disliked at the Times,” said restaurant critic Ruth Reichl. Bill Boyarsky, another staffer, says “everyone around me hates him.” The harshest opinion of Shaw came from the late Glenn Binford, the paper’s late night editor at the city desk, who refers to Shaw as “an oily little prick.” The nickname stuck. “Even the late Dial Torgerson,” reported Los Angeles, “a droll, dry-witted newsman’s newsman … adopted the moniker, though it was uncharacteristic of Torgerson to disparage anyone.” Reporters for the “Metro” section particularly harbor a keen disdain for David Shaw.
Why is so much animosity directed his way? Most of Shaw’s colleagues at the Times feel that he receives special treatment. He is contracted to write a mere four stories a year. He moonlights as the monthly “Dining Out” columnist for GQ magazine. As the official ombudsman of the Times, one reporter complains, “Shaw plays favorites and purposefully ducks anything that may really irritate his superiors, tending instead to aim at those with no actual power.”
One of his primary targets is staff writer Lois Timnick and Cathleen Decker, whose McMartin coverage was hardly “frantic” or “superficial.” Shaw’s depiction of them as reportorial McCarthyites is not borne out by a review of the newspaper’s McMartin coverage, and the air around Times Mirror Square has, since his series appeared, been thick with acrimony. A week before Shaw received the Pultizer, Timnick (who has since stopped talking to him) threatened to organize an office “suicide party” if he won. When he did walk away with an award, the Pulitzer committee stated that it was given to Shaw not on the merits of his writing, but because the Times permitted him to criticize the paper’s own coverage of a landmark trial. Shaw was born on an Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio. He was educated at Pepperdine and UCLA. His career took off when, as a reporter for the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram, he published a scalding investigative story on Max Rafferty, the Republican opponent of Alan Cranston for a Senate seat. Shaw’s five-part series killed Rafferty’s political prospects with allegations of draft dodging. Shaw received an award from the Los Angeles Press Club for the story, and a job offer from the Times.
That was 18 years ago. He was informally assigned to “the sex beat.” Shaw plied his investigative skills with titillating exposes of massage parlors and strip clubs. His piece on a nightspot featuring live sex with a dog threw the newsroom into turmoil – this is the same commentator who later dismissed most press coverage of McMartin as “sensational” and “superficial.” Shaw defines himself publicly as a “liberal,” but he frequently expresses right-wing sentiments, and his writing can be fairly summed up as propagandistic. He chose to write on McMartin, Los Angeles magazine reported, “because he needed an excuse to stay in town. ‘My wife was eight months pregnant, and I was looking for a story that would keep me in L.A. so I would be here for the birth.”
“Experts” on the McMartin debacle – Shaw, the Eberles, Dr. Underwager, Abby Mann, and others – have, in violation of their own admonitions, retired it in the press. Ray Buckey is supposed to be as innocent as Ceasar’s wife. If so, why do Buckey’s supporters ignore critical evidence? Why the statistical fabrications? Why lament repeatedly that the case took five years to try when dragging it out was a conscious defense strategy? Why ignore the tunnels and the bones? And, most troubling off all, why has so much effort been put into propagating mass deception on Buckey’s behalf?