Interview with Jackie McGauley, Part One
"I dunno - sounds like McMartin" seems a typical reaction to virtually every allegation of the organized, ritual abuse of children in America. Despite medical examiners having found "scars, tears, enlarged body openings or other evidence indicating blunt force trauma consistent with the repeated sodomy and rape [the children] described" (as reported in the Los Angeles Times in October 1988); despite the finding of tunnels beneath the preschool as children had described them; despite a poll of jurors after the trials which found a majority believed children had been abused but the prosecution hadn't made their case - despite all these things and more, McMartin has been massaged into public consciousness as an example of how such things could never happen. If people know nothing else about McMartin, they know it's a hoax.
Except it isn't. So what is it?
This is the first part of my interview with Jackie McGauley, leader of the McMartin parents and organizer of the tunnel dig.
It seems whenever a ritual abuse case arises, "McMartin" gets a cautionary mention as an example of "Satanic Panic." Is that how McMartin should be remembered?
"Satanic Panic" is the very catchy name of a book written in 1998. The media really ran with this concept because it was basically a windfall for them.
I can't speak for all of the parents and families, but I can tell you that the trial was about child molestation, not satanism. Evidence showed that there was definitely pornography being filmed and our children were prostituted, not only in the community but taken to other places by airplane, cars and vans. There definitely was sadistic torture.
Once the concept of satanism entered the picture, the defense ran with it. As far as I know the original idea came from a full page ad paid for by a group called "Friends of McMartin." The title, in 72 point font, "WITCHHUNT-Salem 1683, Manhattan Beach, 1983." Every chance the "friends" got they would cry "witchhunt" in the media and it grew from there.
I spoke to a therapist not long ago and asked her if she thought satanism was involved in our case. She told me there definitely were ritualistic aspects to the torture our children suffered.
I also read an excellent thesis written by Dr. Dale Griffis on Mind Control. Methods of breaking down the victim described in his paper matched those described by our children.
Eventually, thousands of people came forward and claimed they were tortured and molested by satanic type cults. Their accounts can't be ignored. The propaganda of a very powerful group called FMSF [False Memory Syndrome Foundation] which is behind virtually all of the "urban legend," "there were no tunnels," and "there was no evidence" theories vigorously saturates all research on the abuse of children. If people really think the district attorney would file such massive charges based on "no evidence" then they should be putting their efforts toward changing the legal system.
McMartin gets cautionary mention because the premise of their "urban legend, satanism" idea is weak. Despite all of the pop literature to he contrary, a legal search on the case will tell a much different story. The way McMartin was handled in the media is an embarrassment. The case needs to be analyzed closer since I understand many colleges actually base courses on it. A 5 year study was done by UCLA (Behind the Playground Walls, 1991, Waterman, Kelly, Oliveri, McCord, Guilford Press) You won't find it mentioned in the FMSF or IPT Journal (the journal of FMSF). Geeze...they spent a tremendous amount of money and energy putting out lies to protect child abusers.
I'm interested in your thoughts on Judy Johnson, the parent who first reported sexual abuse at McMartin, and was later diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and died of alcohol poisoning. Debunkers of McMartin allege that her diagnosis and death are indicative of the spurious character of the claims. I presume you knew her before the abuse surfaced. Did her mental illness precede the claims of abuse, or could the knowledge of the bizarre and horrific abuse precipitate her illness?
I am glad you asked about Judy. She was never, repeat never, diagnosed with any mental illness, much less schizophrenia. That is a great example of how a lie gets repeated over and over until people just take it for a fact without questioning.
She was allergic to alcohol. She told me that, but started drinking to escape the horror that her life had become. This was before all of the wonder drugs we have today that allow us to escape reality. Her liver eventually gave out and she was found dead on her kitchen floor. Her Ex husband, Bernard had reported her to Social Services because her older child had an inoperable brain tumor. He passed away a few years after Judy. Judy was keeping him home from school with a tutor. Of course after McMartin she was reluctant to put her youngest back in pre school in this community, as we all were. I used to go to the criminal courts building where custody hearings used to be heard to keep her and her children company in the hallways while writing sometimes hours to have her case heard. She could not afford a good attorney so it was easy for her ex to go after her. The thing that really angered me is that the father wanted the children taken away but he did not want custody. Bernard had run off with a younger woman.
Few people took the time to get to know her or help her in the crisis her family was going through. All of the other parents were caught up in their own nightmares.
She came to meet me after repeatedly seeing my name mentioned in the local newspaper associated with the trial and other related occurrences.
We became friends because we were both going through a nasty divorce and were struggling to feed our children. My child is the same age as hers and we would get together for play dates. We commiserated about having to feed our children popcorn for dinner because we were both living on so little money. We talked about our divorces. She did tell me what she was going through and I met and talked to her father and her brother. I asked them about some of the claims that were being made about her.
I have to assume that people must know that if a doctor diagnoses abuse he is mandated to report it. Judy, of course, followed up with a police report, as we all did.
The claims were not just made by one person. There were more than 500 reports made to the police. Manhattan Beach has a population of over 35,000 people. Reports substantiating claims of abuse by the employees at McMartin came from as far away as China and Hawaii where families had moved. Victims did not all know each other and the children ranged from age 2 1/2 to 35+ years old. They had exactly the same claims as those of us who still lived in town.
Judy was never formally named as a witness but her 3 year old son was the 42nd witness. Judy had passed away before the trial got around to calling him. Bernard refused to let him testify. The boy must have been about 7 by the time he was called.
You can't explain what happened to Judy without knowing about Glenn Stevens, one of the State's prosecutors assigned to our case that went over to the other side after he was fired. I asked Lael Rubin, (currently a special counsel to Los Angeles head D.A. Steve Cooley who helped establish his office's Brady Policy and Alert System for prosecutors to check out witnesses), our lead prosecutor what really happened to Stevens. She told me he was told to put his resignation on then head District Attorney Reiner's desk before noon Friday or he would be fired-essentially, he had no choice (News reporters substantiated this) for leaking information to the press (specifically the Los Angeles Times).
Mr. Stevens would frequently make jokes at Judy's expense and the defense would latch on to them not only for a good laugh, but Friends of McMartin really though they were facts. Stevens was keeping a diary of his life during the trial seemingly with expectations of writing a book featuring himself as the hero.
The next mistake he made was accepting Abby Mann's invitation to be wined and dined during an in depth interview for the HBO drama "Indictment." Copies of his inebriated interview were passed around and he emerged as the fool he really is.
I hope to have more from Jackie soon.
By the way, Jerky, of the decidedly non-workplace safe DailyDirt.com, has posted the transcripts of a three-part boozy interview he conducted with me a couple of months back here, here and here. I don't think anyone's captured my rambling incoherence quite so well.
This is why I'm a writer. We like our turds polished.