The McMartin case turned into a fiasco for the prosecution, but it did lead to important changes in how possible child victims are approached.
The McMartin Preschool case of the 1980’s may have an impact on how the Miramonte child sex abuse case in investigated.
In the McMartin case, the owner and several employees of a Manhattan Beach preschool were accused of abusing their young charges.
Ongoing Coverage: Miramonte Investigation
Only the owner and her son were put on trial and that trial ended with the defendants acquitted of most of the charges. Some McMartin jurors said they felt the children were coached into making statements about the accused.
Transcripts from the McMartin case show parents and therapists asking the young children questions that were deemed leading, such as, "Can you remember the naked pictures?" or "Did he touch you on the bottom?"
Interviewers then told the children they were smart if they answered yes to certain questions, and they were stupid if they denied the abuse by the McMartin staff.
In response to the McMartin fiasco, authorities across the country established new investigative techniques in dealing with child victims.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Gabriel Crenshaw has counseled abused children.
"I listen differently," he said. "I’ve learned from the McMartin case. I was a kid when it was happening but, of course, it was a study when I was in school. Certainly when I got to Children’s Hospital I wanted to be abreast of how we did things in the eighties so we would not repeat that in this new millennium."
Los Angeles Sheriff’s investigators who are working on the Miramonte case said the two cases are not comparable.
Lieutenant Carlos Marquez said he wants the parents to first talk to their children instead of having an investigator do an in-depth interview.
He did admit that people are comparing Miramonte to McMartin.
"It’s come up a few times during the investigation," he said, but added the two cases are completely different.