Indictment: The McMartin Trial (1995)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  20 May 1995 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 2,040 users  
Reviews: 30 user | 6 critic

The McMartin family's lives are turned upside down when they are accused of serious child molestation. The family run a school for infants. An unqualified child cruilty "expert" videotapes ... See full summary »



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Won 2 Golden Globes. Another 6 wins & 15 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lael Rubin
Kee McFarlane
Virginia McMartin
Ray Buckey
Peggy Buckey
Wayne Satz
Peggy Ann Buckey
Christine Johnson
Glenn Stevens
Scott Waara ...
Dean Gits
Diana Sullivan
Ira Reiner
Judy Johnson
Juror #1


The McMartin family's lives are turned upside down when they are accused of serious child molestation. The family run a school for infants. An unqualified child cruilty "expert" videotapes the children describing outrageous stories of abuse. One of the most expensive and long running trails in US legal history, exposes the lack of evidence and unprofessional attitudes of the finger pointers which kept one of the accused in jail for over 5 years without bail. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for graphic language and disturbing visuals related to a trial | See all certifications »




Release Date:

20 May 1995 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Acusados  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The film cast includes one Oscar winner: Mercedes Ruehl; and three Oscar nominees: James Woods, Shirley Knight, and James Cromwell See more »


In last sequence, walkway on Manhattan Beach pier is alternately wet and dry from shot to shot. See more »


Danny Davis: Look the jury in the eye and answer this question. Did you ever molested a child?
Ray Buckey: No.
See more »


Featured in The 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

You have faith in our legal system?
15 January 2004 | by (Auckland, New Zealand.) – See all my reviews

Because I don't! I defy anyone who has ever been involved in a serious legal trial to state that western nations have a great and just legal system. The Mcmartin trial represents a real failure of our system and should be a warning of what can happen.

Similar trials happened in Australia, England and here in New Zealand. We had an innocent man here put in prison on the basis of hysteria. Although, many conspiracy nuts would state that abusive satanic cults exist and are covered up by the highest levels of government.

The actors that play the Mcmartin's are very good and you real feel sorry for them as they are caught in a nightmare not unlike Kafka's, the trial. James Woods is also good playing the motor mouth defence lawyer. Oliver Stone is also involved as the producer, which is no surprise. I bet both of these guys know whats up and want to expose the stupidity that was America's longest and most costly legal battle. Remember this trial went for 10 years!

The film explores all the things that made this trial a joke. The highly leading questions asked by social workers to children. The fact that Mcfarlane pressured the children to admit to sexual abuse. The politicians using this as a spring board to getting elected. The fact that the children even identify Chuck Norris as one of the villains. The correctly defined anatomical dolls. Judy Johnson and her bizarre alcoholic, schizophrenic ravings. The children giving bizarre confessions where they would be flown out to places to be abused. Then came satanism. The children stating that they were brought through tunnels and abused underground. No physical evidence of tunnels were ever found under the Mcmartin pre-school. The Mcmartins apparently dressed in black robes, chanted and ritually abused the children according to the victims.

Does anyone find any of this highly unlikely?

Normally if you are going to sexually abuse children, by the time you get to Peggy Buckey's age you have a major history. Child molesters do not just fall out of the sky. This case is about cultural anxiety. At this point in history the two genders had become more equalized. Both mom and dad were working. So more and more parents were dropping off their kids at daycare centers. The problem was that many people felt very nervous about their kids being at these centers. An actual book came out reporting abuse that went on in daycare centers. I have not read this book but I would imagine only a minority of centers would be abusive to kids. As things become more equal the divorce rates were also increasing as woman were walking out of bad marriages. This just increased the uncertainty felt at this time.

The problem is that there are still people who think that the Mcmartins are guilty. I am all for stopping molesters but this is just getting hysterical. It is exactly the same as the Salem witch trials. We think that we have changed since then. Well we haven't really! We can still just as easily deceive ourselves. If you look around the web you will still find websites that claim that the tunnels existed and there was a huge government cover up. Why would the government bother? Even if the Buckeys were working for a satanic pornography ring that is connected to the government, which I highly doubt. Why wouldn't the government then hang the Buckey's out to dry if they were caught? If they stated that they were satanic molesters working for the government then they would look crazy.

The other pet peeve I have about this case is that Kee Mcfarlane and her ilk were never held accountable for their actions. Social workers and mental health workers should be held more accountable. Mcfarlane's poor interview techniques caused children to believe that they were victims of a satanic cult. It seems the higher up in the food chain that you are. The more likely that you'll never be held accountable for your actions. It is a sad fact but in my experience and observations, it is a true fact.

Satanic ritual abuse has been proven to be false. The whole thing collapsed when the FBI, lead by Kenneth Lanning, COULD NOT FIND ANY EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER of the existence of any satanic cults. Lanning's official report is available online. However the conspiracy nuts state this is just more evidence of a cover up. That the FBI are part of this satanic cult or that the cult is so extraordinarily tricky that they avoid detection. I don't know about you dear reader but this sounds ridiculous to me! Lanning used the sound logic that the bigger the cult the more physical evidence that they would leave. None was ever found.

The infamous Laurence Pazder was even involved in this trial. The man who with Michelle Smith gave us Michelle remembers. The book that started the whole SRA hysteria. Why satanism? If you ACTUALLY read Anton Lavey he states that you should treat animals and humans with respect. His writings are also a rip off of Ayn Rand. Some ultra right wing people will be disturbed and not very happy about that fact!

I would also like to add that this hysteria still goes on. The case of the West Memphis three to me is the most infamous. You have three young men convicted of child murder. Why? Because they dared to dress in black, explore alternative belief systems, such as Wicca and listened to heavy metal. Most notably Metallica. Madness! All of this is dangerous madness!

The last peeve I have is that because of this mess. The teaching profession has taken the most major blows. Here in New Zealand there are few male teachers, 90 percent of teachers are now female. This issue is one of the major factors of why men no longer want to become teachers. They are afraid of being accused of child molestation. Men who want to work with children, especially young children, are considered to be strange. No real man wants to work with kids! This modern hysteria has only added to this cultural stereotype. As a result our school system suffers as boys struggle to find male role models. Boys are failing but girls are succeeding.

Some films have to be watched so we can learn from them and not repeat our own mistakes. This film is also a critique of the legal system. To me it illustrates that some fundamental changes have to happen for our legal system to function adequately. I give this 10 out of 10 and think everyone should have to watch it. All those who have never had dealings with the courts, well this is an education and a half.

46 of 51 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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