McMartin Preschool Trial Explained by Kim W. Hansen, Attorney in Orange County

Kim W Hansen

Kim W. Hansen Criminal Defense Attorne 

Kim W. Hansen: Well I’m glad to be here. If you would like to see those judges who aren’t happy with their jobs just step aside…nobody makes them be a judge but for some reason, really, they’re supposed to have a happy disposition and unfortunately then we take the brunt of it with our clients so it’s harder…

Don can attest to that. What I want to talk about today, I want to go back a little back, way back to the 80’s. Some of you aren’t going to remember this, back in 80’s there was a case called McMartin Preschool ,some of you might remember that. For those of you that do remember that, what do you remember?  Anything?

OK, abusing children. Anything else?

Business Growth Innovators Member: Wasn’t there something about it…they were falsely accused, but it turned out to be recovered memories.

Kim W. Hansen: You got a pretty good memory. That was the most, that was the longest criminal trial in US history. That was 7 years and fifteen million dollars of your government money to prosecute that. With zero convictions. Most people like Kathy, think “Oh weren’t they convicted?” Well, that’s what they were charged with, there were no convictions.

So, I want to talk a little bit about what to do in a general sense if you’re falsely accused of something. They’ll tell you those people were devastated, their lives were ruined even though they were acquitted. People in public, ask them right now, “Oh yeah, they were convicted of child abuse, of child molestation”. They were not. As Shawn mentioned, they had pretty much a witch hunt. They had one accusation and then what the police did on that case is they sent letters to all the parents of that pre-school.

There were two hundred of them, and said ‘Talk to your child. See if anything happened.” And then all these things start pouring in, kind of leading their kids to say things, but does anybody in your family that teaches school or is a school teacher.

OK, a few of you. You know every year, I gave the same little speech. I don’t give this speech. My wife taught school for thirty years in the Fullerton Unified School District. She teaches kindergarden. So I always reminder her and for those of you that have family members or people you know who teach school, I want you to share this with them because it will really help them to avoid having this happen to them, what happened in that case in McMartin Preschool.

First thing is, I tell my wife, never be alone with a child behind closed doors. It doesn’t a kindergardener or at what age. Most of those cases wind up being one-on-one, whatever the teacher of that case, a scout leader or a coach. But you don’t want to be one-on-one with a child. In fact, if there’s any scout leaders they know the Boy Scouts of America implemented a policy where it’s two leaders on any scout outing.

They don’t go alone anymore. And that’s to protect the youth and the leaders. So that’s rule number one. Rule number two is document everything. If a child makes a threat to you, not like kindergartners making threats to my wife, but if they say something that needs to be documented and in the record because if they’re…if they’ve got a habit of telling lies, then that can go a long ways to helping the person being accused to be acquitted.

What happens in a child abuse case, a lot of times those charges are taken very seriously, which they should be. But a lot of times the children are never vetted very well. They just take them at their word, and teachers are required now by the state to report anything. And a lot of times they aren’t really vetted, they say “Well, if they said it, it must have really happened’. And then they go off on their investigation.

So make sure you document any threats or things of a discipline nature. And then the third and final thing is don’t ever touch to child. And that’s the hard one for my wife because she always wants…she like to give a little pat of encouragement or something. Then I tell her, I say ‘You know even an innocent thing can be taken out of context”. And I’m going to share a couple of things here.

Some examples, these were actual examples of touching that occurred where the person was accused of child molestation. Squeezing a student’s shoulders was interpreted as touching a nine year old student’s breasts. Patting three female eight year olds on the bottom and telling them they did a good job. Again, that got interpreted the wrong way. Accidentally touching a nine year old student’s groin when the teacher was pointing to another student…he just kind of hit him inadvertently.

And there was another where hugging several second graders was interpreted as hugging them for sexual gratification. That’s probably the hardest for a teacher of elementary school, and those little kids. You’re almost like a second mother to them and it’s very hard…it’s hard for my wife to keep that in mind but those charges are just devastating because not only the loss of freedom that…Raymond Buckey was the main person charged in that, McMartin, and he was in custody for five years and was never convicted.

Loss of freedom, loss of job. Your teaching credential goes down the drain. These three things, if you share that with your family members that teach school, they’ll be fine if any…if they should be accused. Of course, the other negative thing that comes with that if there is a conviction you have to register for life as a sex offender. And it’s a big stigma to overcome.

Business Growth Innovators Member: I have a question for you, too. In scouting, you have a youth protection certification for the adults. Does that go anywhere beyond scouting? Is that available or required any where besides scouting?

Kim W. Hansen: I don’t know if it’s required in any other organization besides scouts but it’s… Are they in soccer? Are you in soccer?

Business Growth Innovators Member: So does the Catholic Church. They won’t higher anybody no matter what, you have to go through a whole course that you take before you’re certified.

Kim W. Hansen: You really need to for the protection of the youth as well as the leaders.

Business Growth Innovators Member:  So what are your thoughts on where that direction it’s going. So obviously what ultimately happens here is the press assassinated people. Based on a few rumors and nothing was actually found inappropriate. So it’s the in appropriation of comment and press that basically killed these people when they didn’t do anything wrong.

Kim W. Hansen: The question was where was it going? It’s going in waves. It died down after a while, that whole thing but it comes back. And then it happened, and teachers were being accused all over the place. Same thing happened just two or three years ago. Jerry Sandusky, Penn State Assistant Coach. Same thing happened, a wave happened. It just kind of goes in waves. So the bottom line is you just gotta protect yourself if you work with youth.

You gotta do those three things to cover yourselves. Oh, thank you. I got a clock right here I can see, thank you. You’ve heard me pound before about exercising your fourth amendment right not to be searched without a warrant and never volunteer for that. Same thing goes with your fifth amendment right to remain silent. Now most people see that on TV and say ‘OK, get arrested.

They read me my rights and I don’t need to talk”. But you can actually exercise that right on your own before you’re arrested. People don’t know that because they never show that in the moves or TV but if you are being investigated, no arrest has been made, they aren’t going to read you your Miranda rights. The only time they read you your Miranda rights is after they’ve arrested you, if they want to question you more then they gotta give you a waiver.

Pre-arrest they can talk to you, those sobriety check points, ‘Oh how much have you had to drink tonight?’ They pull you over. ‘How you doin’?”. That’s pre-arrest so they can ask you anything they want. And you can invoke your right right then. There’s a case, let’s see if I can find this right here. [pause] Versus Texas. And this case basically said people have the right to invoke that right before they’re arrested on their own.

They can just do it without the officer giving them the warning. The problem with it is, it’s sometimes too vague, When people invoke it they’ll do it partially. They’ll answer some questions, but then they’ll talk some more. They might bungle when they invoke it, how to say it. Or sometimes they just keep talking. They’ll say ‘I want to invoke my right to remain silent’ but then they keep talking and have a conversation with the officer.

And pretty soon, he’s incriminated himself or said what they’re trying to avoid saying. So what I want to do is, I’m going to send around some cards. And then on the back of these cards you can write two little sentences and if you ever got stopped, arrested, under a sobriety check point, or anywhere else where you’re being under investigation. You take one of these cards and write this because this will say it effectively without using the words ‘incrimination’ because even saying ‘I don’t want to incriminate myself’; those words can be used later on to say ‘Oh he doesn’t want to incriminate himself, he must be lying’. So this will do away with that without even saying the words.

Business Growth Innovators Member: Wait for the cards?

Kim W. Hansen: We’ll wait for them to come around. I should have sent them around right to begin with so…and anyway.

Business Growth Innovators Member: I’ll write it down for everybody.

Kim W. Hansen: It’s just two sentences so if you can’t remember you can come up and see me after and I’ll tell ya. OK, here it is. “I respectfully refuse to answer based on my fifth amendment privilege. Please direct any further questions to my lawyer”. That’s the second sentence. “I respectfully refuse to answer based on my fifth amendment privilege.” That’s the first sentence. “Please direct any further questions to my lawyer”.

Now when you are detained on a traffic stop you are required to give them your license and tell them your name and identifying information but anything beyond that, like where you’ve been, what you’ve been drinking. You don’t have to tell them anything. You just state that and stay with it. And you notice I didn’t use the words “I don’t want to incriminate myself”. That’s all you need to tell them. I think my time is just about up. Any questions?

Business Growth Innovators Member:  Regarding this case now that we’re all hearing about the heroin paraphernalia that was found in a teacher’s bathroom or whatever. I mean, is that going to be a case now against a teacher’s union because they’re refusing to allow the teacher teachers to even give a urine samples or blood samples or whatever they’re asking? What do you think about that case? I mean, what are the parent’s rights here about not wanting their children…I mean, it’s in the school and it was in a teacher’s lounge. I was just curious to what you think about that.

Kim W. Hansen: Yea, I unfortunately have not heard of that case. I may be the only here who hasn’t heard it.

Business Growth Innovators Member: Oh, it was on the news last night.

Kim W. Hansen: Oh, ok, well I didn’t watch any news last night.

Business Growth Innovators Member:  I’m sorry, I think it may have been in the LA schools. Is it LA school district somewhere? I don’t think it was Orange County. Well I just thought that was kind of curious about the fact the parents are standing up at this meeting saying “I don’t want my child walking in the halls or being taught by a person that may be on heroin. Because it was found in the teacher’s…”

Kim W. Hansen: Yeah…well.

Business Growth Innovators Member: I wanted to know your thoughts on that.

Kim W. Hansen: I don’t know. It’ll be litigated. I don’t know what occurred there. I’m not really familiar with the facts on that.

Business Growth Innovators Member: Sorry about that.

Kim W. Hansen: I think my time’s run out. Is your question brief?

Business Growth Innovators Member:  It is pretty brief. There’s been a city that’s started mandating that all police officers wear a…it’s like a GoPro camera. The unions are against it, but one city’s instated that. Do you see that in the future.

Kim W. Hansen: Yea. A lot of them already do that and it’s…I don’t know why the police unions would be against it because it helps them verify their story. It certainly helps the clients as well. A lot of them are already activated when they turn their lights on, and it activates the recording device in their car.

Business Growth Innovators Member: It’s on their person.

Kim W. Hansen: Right, right. Same thing. Anyway, thank you for your time.

The Law Offices of Kim W. Hansen emphasizes the following areas of Criminal Defense law:

1700 W. Katella Ave., Suite 200
Orange, CA 92867