When a jury acquitted Raymond Buckey, the last defendant in the notorious McMartin Preschool child-molestation case, prosecutors, social workers, law enforcement officers and therapists began to re-evaluate how "the system" deals with complicated and sometimes sensational child-molestation cases.
The Utah Media Arts Center and Independent Media Network have produced a video documentary, "After McMartin . . . Who Walks Point?" that brings together national experts in child-abuse intervention, treatment and prosecution to discuss the McMartin case. It also features the judge who presided over the first McMartin trial.The title refers to a military maneuver where a squad leader, "walking point" is the first man out and the most likely to take enemy fire. In light of the cost and result of the McMartin case, the documentary asks who will step forward to lead new charges against abuse and molestation.
The documentary will be screened twice in Salt Lake City Tuesday, Dec. 4. Each screening will be followed by a panel discussion and a reception.
Davi Hechler, an investigative reporter from New York City and the author of "The Battle and the Backlash: The Child Sexual Abuse War," will moderate the discussions. The screenings will be held at the Salt Lake Art Center Auditorium, 20 S. West Temple.
The McMartin trial was the longest and most expensive criminal trial in history. It spanned seven years and involved 208 criminal charges against seven defendants. The preliminary hearing and original trial lasted about three years and cost more than $13 million. It ended in acquittals or mistrials for the defendants.
Buckey was retried, and he was acquitted in January 1990 of some of the counts. Other charges resulted in a mistrial, but prosecutors have said they will not retry the case again.
Buckey, who spent five years in jail awaiting the outcome, has announced he will file a multimillion-dollar suit against Los Angeles County, the city of Manhattan Beach and several officials.
The purpose of the documentary is to bring a thoughtful discussion of the issues involved in treating and prosecuting child molestation down to the local level, according to filmmaker Rhea Gavry, who produced and directed "After McMartin."
The 1 p.m. session is for professionals involved in child-abuse prevention, intervention and treatment. Panelists are Grethe Peterson, chairwoman of the Utah Child Sexual Abuse Task Force; Barbara Thompson, director of the Division of Family Services; Glen Iwasaki, Salt Lake County attorney and special prosecutor; L. Scott Davis, executive director of the Utah Chapter for the Prevention of Child Abuse; Sgt. Roy Wasden, Salt Lake City Police Department Sex Crimes Unit; and Stephen J. Bavolek, president of Family Development Resources.
The 7 p.m. screening is open to the general public and will focus on media responsibility in reporting social issues. The panel includes reporters from the Deseret News, Salt Lake Tribune, KUTV and KTVX, as well as Salt Lake County Attorney David Yokum, Assistant Attorney General Barbara Bearnson, therapist Julie Bradshaw and defense attorney Brad Rich. Cost of the evening screening and discussion is $7.
For more information, call the Utah Media Arts Center, 534-1158.