The Devil Goes to Preschool

In 1983, journalists helped conjure a nationwide sex panic.

Illustration by Daniel Zender.

The longest-running and most expensive trial in US history, the McMartin preschool case, began in the fall of 1983, when Judy Johnson claimed that her son, Billy, had been sodomized by Ray Buckey, a twenty-five-year-old teacher at McMartin Preschool in affluent Manhattan Beach, California. Over the weeks that followed, Johnson’s accusations became increasingly bizarre: she […]

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