Satanic Panic II: Judy Johnson and the McMartin Preschool Trial

Ray Buckey on Trial in 1987

Ray Buckey (far right)  on trial in 1987

Manhattan Beach, California, 1983. A gorgeous, affluent seaside town – nobody suspected that half a dozen evil, satanic child molesters were hiding in plain sight.

Among others, Ray Buckey and his mother Peggy McMartin-Buckey, were charged with hundreds of counts of child abuse, all stemming from horrifying allegations made by the parents and children of the community.

With the benefit of hindsight, we now know that the accusations began with a woman named Judy Johnson. None of this happens without her.

Judy Johnson was going through a divorce in mid-late 1983. She called the McMartin School to arrange daycare for her two-year-old son Matthew, but had been told that they were full. She brought him in anyway, and apparently left him in the yard. After some discussion, the people at McMartin accepted the kid.

The McMartin School as it appeared in 1983.

The McMartin School as it appeared in 1983.

One day in August 83, Matthew told Judy that he was having painful bowel movements, she examined him and all seemed well. He went off to preschool.

When she picks him up from McMartin, she takes another look and, finding redness and blotches, she’s immediately convinced that something awful has taken place at school that day.

She asks Matthew, and he denies that anything strange has taken place. After a while, she coaxes him to admit that Ray Bucky had taken his temperature, and she sees this as confirmation of the abuse. So she takes him to the hospital, and eventually to the police.

Then all hell breaks loose.


What happens next is what we’re talking about this week. From Kee Macfarlane to Geraldo, from secret tunnels to naked movie stars – we’ll cover everything.

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