Interview with Jackie McGauley, Part Two
Digging for the McMartin tunnels
This is the second part of my interview with Jackie McGauley, leader of the McMartin parents and organizer of the tunnel dig. Part One can be read here.
How did you learn of abuse your daughter had suffered?
There were signs but we did not know what they meant. We asked other parents and their children were having the same problems. We all thought it must be normal. Who would imagine that the school and others in the community had gotten to so may of our children?
Some children talked about airplane trips. One young boy remarked that the feeling he got in his stomach as an elevator descended was just like that he felt in the airplane. We asked the teachers about the signs and they always had an answer. They played an airplane game.
My daughter was "only" at the preschool from 1983 until it closed in January 1984 for 2 days a week. She had had several severe diaper rashes. She wouldn't tell me about her time at the school. She would just say "kids."
I firest heard about the investigation from Peggy Buckey herself. She was letting parents in one at a time to look at a closet. When I asked what was going on, Peggy told me it did not concern me. As it turned out, only the parents of children that complained of being locked in a closet were allowed in. The closet was a free standing one that had shelves. We added a picture of one in the scientific archaeological report of the successful search for tunnels under the preschool building done in 1990.
Later Peggy told me her son Ray was accused of molesting a child and that it was ridiculous because "he could not hurt a fly." When I tried to ask other parents they would not tell me anything. Later I found out they thought maybe I was involved because I didn't know about the police investigation.
Ray and Peggy Buckley
Both Peggy and Virginia spent a lot of time with me and confided in me that they were the victims of a vendetta and may have to close the school. I had no idea that by August 1983 a full police investigation was under way, much less what it was all about. Babette Spitler and the others begged me to keep my daughter in the preschool. Spitler became the new Director.
The school was closed (they told me voluntarily) 18 months after my daughter had started going there. She went 2 days a week for 4 hours a day. She had severe asthma attacks on Monday mornings. My ex husband, being from an extremely frugal Scottish family, asked if we could send her on Fridays to make up the time.
Ray, Peggy and Betty appeared on the evening news in February, 1984. I asked my daughter if she knew the man on TV. She said, "Mr. Ray." I was stunned. I called the Manhattan Beach Police Department who referred me to Children's Institute International (CII). We could not get an appointment for her until the end of March.
Kee MacFarlane and Dr. Astrid Heger examined her...that opened the floodgates. She began to tell me and show me incredible things. She was terrified. I credit Kee MacFarlane's sensitivity and Dr. Heger's expertise to unlock the secrets she had been keeping.
How did Ted Gunderson enter both the investigation and your personal life? How long did you live together?
I'd love to clear up the misconception that gunderson (I never capitalize his name) was involved in the investigation. He was never formally hired or paid in any way. He simply stuck himself in by offering to do things. Who wouldn't trust the retired chief of the Los Angeles division of the FBI who introduced you to senators and former State Attorney Generals? Some things we allowed him to do but many of his ideas and attempts to take over were rejected.
He was a persistent presence. He became so annoying that eventually the parents would not talk to him. I always thought in some way that he would help our cause. He was present at the Archaeological dig as often as he could and he talked to the ever present media as the rest of us were exhausted or did errands for the crew. At the time we did not know what he was up to and did not think it would be harmful to let him talk, as we thought he said positive things.
I want you to know that allowing him to be involved was the demise of any credibility we had.
Gunderson, then and now
His reputation was well known by law enforcement, but he is such a slick con man that we had no clue what we were getting ourselves in to. I have to say that it was mostly my fault for letting him be involved. Later I found out he was COINTELPRO. Years later when I read the description of that program it all made perfect sense. (Click here: "A Short History of FBI COINTELPRO") I met ted at a California State Social Services Hearing ion San Diego, where I was formally asked, by an invitation I got in the mail, to testify. He approached me in the hallway because I was known then for keeping a file of documentation on the issue. I had appeared on several news programs and talk shows.
How he wormed his way into my home is a rather long story. Basically he tried to hire me to not only work with him, but do research for attornies, which I did maybe twice, then started hanging around our apartment. I had just been diagnosed with malignant melanoma and while waiting for results of the test, was told I may only have three months to live. He got into a nasty fight with my downstairs neighbor and my landlord doubled my rent. I had thrown him out once because of his nasty temper towards the neighbors. While looking for another place to live and still communicating with him, he found a big house one block from my children's school. Needless to say the children loved the house. Against my better judgment, I agreed to let him move in with us and share expenses. This was almost immediately after we finished finding the tunnels at the preschool. I was not only exhausted, but I had contracted Psittacosis (parrot fever) which can be fatal. My temperature was so high seemed as if I were cooking from the inside. I was very sick for weeks, ted refused to help me. He took the checks I had made out to pay bills and told me he had to give his daughter the money. That was just the start of almost 4 years of my decent into debt and serious health problems.
What caused your falling out with Gunderson? How do you regard him now, and how would you assess his part in the McMartin investigation?
I may have already answered that in the above answer.
Anyone who contacts me about him, and there have been many, including Joe Klass, Polly Klass' grandfather, I warn them that he is a con man and will destroy their credibility if not con them out of money. The Klass family did not hire him, though he has given talks about how he worked that case and mine. The prosecutor, D.A. Greg Jacobs, Sonoma County, will back that up. ted lee gunderson is a dangerous person.
He alone claims he was part of our investigation. We try our best to warn people about him. You don't need to take my word for it, ask anyone else who was involved. When I added up all of the damage he caused me, I was over $30,000 in debt. As a single mother of two small children I had no choice but to file bankruptcy. ted does not have a physical address. The addresses he uses are of other people, and a P.O. box drop in Santa Monica. Unfortunately with any high profile case there will be a lot of rumors and conjecture. Also there are a lot of well meaning people who try to attach themselves to our cause. I learned to try to be diplomatic while sifting out the crazies.
McMartin's "Happy Face" closet:
I'll have more from Jackie later.