Origin of a Secret Room
The exact time and place of the origin of the children's tales of underground tunnels and secret rooms is unknown. But those stories may have grown from a February 1984 child interview conducted by a therapist at Children's Institute International. Prior to the CII interview, the boy denied that he had been abused at the preschool. But after Currie visited the boy's parents and told them the boy had been named as a victim by other children, his parents took him to CII to be
At the beginning of the interview the boy said that he could not remember his nursery school days. But therapist Sandra Krebs appealed for his help with a
fictional story. The younger children can't talk about sex abuse as well as older children (like the boy himself), she explained,
"'Cause they're not as smart and their memories aren't as good." She said she had been playing
"detective" with the other older boys and their parents. "We've been putting the pieces together, and seeing if we can
figure out who all the bad guys are so we can get 'em all." The older boys have been talking for the younger ones, she told him, and they all said they were abused at the school. But the boy still could not remember anything, and he continued, for awhile, to deny that anything happened to him. But the leading questions that guided him throughout the interview eventually brought results, however ambiguous; the boy became confused and wondered if something might have happened:
Boy: Like, like somehow I can't remember. I'm not sure about. Ah, there was a room I wasn't supposed to go in or something.
Krebs: There was a room you weren't supposed to go in?
Boy: Yeah, I guess. I can't I'm making this up. I'm not sure. Yeah, I can see it, I think. (Later in the interview):
Krebs: Boy, you are, you're really something. You're amazing, your memory is just amazing. It's incredible. Are you surprising yourself?
Boy: Yeah. I, ah, I, my dad talked to me and my ma, and my mom and I couldn't remember anything. Guy [unintelligible] take my brain out.
Krebs: Oh boy, your memory is just incredible.
Boy: I'm not sure about all these things.
The boy testified a year later at the preliminary hearing that his parents designed
"fill in the blank" questions for him about McMartin case; he would use his imagination to answer them, he said, after watching television news reports that included stories of children transported to cemeteries. Now he remembered playing
"Naked Movie Star" with Ray and the other teachers in the "secret room" five times a week, even though he attended the school only twice a week for the
first four months of his enrollment, and even though Ray did not start working at the school until long after the boy had graduated.
The boy remembered that the secret room was the size of a regular classroom and that it was located above ground, just off the east wall of the school building. Access to the room was through the inside of the school,
first by a trap door that went through one room and then through another door that led to the secret room. But the trap door and secret room never existed.
In his earlier CII interview the boy said that the secret room had a window looking into the backyard; at the preliminary hearing the window disappeared. Then he recalled a hole in the wall that he passed through to get outside. Another
"secret door" was behind tall plants and went through the fence to Manhattan Beach Blvd. (where 17,000 cars passed by every
day).128 The children followed their teachers through the hole on their way to molestation locations outside the school.
The children were photographed and filmed naked, without being touched, while the teachers stood and watched. The teachers also tied the children up, according to the boy. They also took him to a farm where he saw a pony stabbed with a knife and cut to pieces with a machete. He drank rabbits' blood at a local church while teachers dressed in witch's robes chanted and walked in a circle. The children went with the teachers to a market where people wore devils' suits and masks.