Chronology of  the McMartin Preschool Abuse Trials

Digging for tunnels on the McMartin Preschool grounds

May 12, 1983 Judy Johnson drops off her 2 1/2-year-old son, Billy, for his first day at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, California.
August 12, 1983 Judy Johnson calls the police to report that her son had been sexually molested at the McMartin Preschool by Ray Buckey, age 25.  The charge is made after Johnson, earlier in the day, took her son to a doctor because his anus itched.  Johnson reported to detectives that "a spot of blood" on the anus was discovered on her son after a day at school.
August 18, 1983 Judy Johnson meets with Detective Hoag to press her complaint that her son had been sexually abused by Ray Buckey.
August 30, 1983 Johnson takes her son, Billy, with her to the police station for an interview.  Her son reports that he had been abused by Ray Buckey.
September 7, 1983 Ray Buckey is arrested.
September 8, 1983 Police Chief Harry Kuhlmeyer sends a letter to 200 McMartin Preschool parents informing them that Ray Buckey is suspected of child abuse and asking them for information.
September 30, 1983 Judy Johnson reports to police that Billy said that Ray Buckey sodomized him while his head was in the toilet.  (Reports get ever more bizarre.  Johnson reports, for example, that Buckey wore a cape, wore a Santa Claus costume, dressed up like a minister, took Billy to a carwash and locked him in a trunk.  Teachers at the McMartin Preschool are said to have chopped up rabbits and to have placed some sort of star on Billy's bottom.)
October 17, 1983 The District Attorney's Office asks Kee MacFarlane, a consultant for the Children's Institute International, to interview supposed child sex abuse victims.
November 1983 Children's Institute interviewers begin diagnosing former students of the McMartin Preschool as having been sexually abused.  By March of 1984, the count of those diagnosed as sexually abused reaches 360 students.
January 13, 1984 Virginia McMartin and Peggy Buckey permanently close the McMartin Preschool after 28 years in business.
February 3, 1984 KABC reporter Wayne Satz startles television viewers with reports of a massive child abuse scandal at the McMartin Preschool.
February 24, 1984 The Curries, McMartin parents, sue Virginia McMartin, Peggy Buckey, and Ray Buckey for assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress.  They ask for $1 million in punitive damages.
March 11, 1984 A number of daycare centers in the Los Angeles area are raided and searched, but no incriminating evidence surfaces.
March 22, 1984 Ray Buckey, Peggy Buckey, Virginia McMartin, Peggy Ann Buckey (Ray's sister), Mary Ann Jackson, Bette Raidor, and Babette Spitler are indicted on 115 counts of child sexual abuse. 
April 2, 1984 The L. A. Times reports that students at McMartin have been fondled, raped, photographed nude, and forced to witness animals being slaughtered.
April 12, 1984 The Children's Institute launches a campaign for public donations to help with its investigation of the McMartin case and other supposed cases of daycare abuse.  By 1989, it will have received over $11 million in government grants.
May 1984 The indictment count reaches 208, involving 40 alleged child victims.
June 1984 Bail for Peggy Buckey is set at $1 million; Ray Buckey is held without bail.
July 12, 1984 A federal grand jury is impaneled to begin its own investigation of the case.
July 1984 Thirty additional individuals are placed under investigation.
August 8, 1984 Prosecutor Lael Rubin announces that the seven McMartin teachers committed 397 sexual crimes, in addition to the 115 for which they already faced charges.
December 1984 The ABC show "20/20" runs a segment on the McMartin case, largely adopting the prosecution's view of the evidence.
March 1985 A group of nearly 50 McMartin Preschool parents, led by Bob Currie, arrive at a lot next to the school and begin digging for the "secret underground rooms" they believe were the scene of massive sexual abuse of children.  A few days later, an archeological firm hired by the District Attorney's Office begins its own dig.  (No evidence of the secret rooms is ever found.)
March 6, 1985 Judy Johnson is hospitalized following a psychotic episode.
September 1985 Some members of the prosecution team begin to express doubts about the case.
January 1986 Testimony in the over two-year-long preliminary hearing comes to an end.
January 17, 1986 District Attorney drops charges against five of the seven indicted defendants.  Ray Buckey and Peggy Buckey are prosecuted on 79 counts and 20 counts, respectively, of child sexual abuse.
December 1986 Judy Johnson dies of alcohol poisoning before having a chance to testify at the trial.
January 1987 Chief Prosecutor Rubin and her assistants are revealed to have withheld potentially exculpatory evidence from the defense.  The evidence in question concerned the mental illness of Judy Johnson, the parent who first made accusations of sexual abuse against Buckey.
July 14, 1987 Opening statements in the first McMartin Preschool trial.
August 1987 The first victim, a girl now of age 12, takes the stand as a witness for the prosecution.
October 17, 1988 The defense begins presenting its case in the McMartin trial.
December 1988 Ray Buckey's bail is reduced to $1.5 million.
February 1989 Ray Buckey is released on bail after spending five years in jail.
May 1989 Peggy Buckey takes the stand in her own defense.
July 28, 1989 Ray Buckey takes the stand in his own defense.
January 18, 1990 The jury returns its verdict in the first McMartin trial.  Peggy Buckey is acquitted on all counts.  The jury is hung with respect to the Ray Buckey verdict on 13 of the 52 counts against him.. Seven of the twelve jurors vote to acquit Ray on all counts. 
January (late) 1990 Responding to pressure from parents, District Attorney Reiner announces that he will retry Ray Buckey on eight counts involving three girls.
July 27, 1990 Verdict reached in the second McMartin trial.  The jury is hung on all counts, but favors acquittal by a large margin.  D. A. Ira Reiner decides not to ask for a third trial of Ray Buckey.  The first two prosecutions have consumed $15 million and seven years of court time.
1991 The McMartin Preschool is demolished.
1995 Virginia McMartin dies at age 88.  HBO shows a docu-drama, "The Indictment," based on the McMartin case and starring James Woods.

McMartin Preschool Abuse Trial