A lengthy prosecution of teachers and owners of the Manhattan Beach California-based Virginia McMartin Preschool for sexual abuse allegations dominated news headlines and broadcasts throughout the 1980s. An initial investigation involving interviews with hundreds of McMartin students by an experienced child therapist found a majority of students affirming such abuse.
Despite abundant evidence and blanket media coverage the defendants were acquitted in 1990 after six years of trial proceedings costing $15 million. Defendant Raymond Buckey was retried shortly thereafter and again exonerated.
The observations of students included a number of tunnels existing underneath McMartin classrooms and bathrooms connecting to external exits, through which students passed to be taken to other locations where they attended and partook in occult rituals. Following the McMartin students’ allegations reports of similar abuse began to emerge at preschools throughout the US.