Analysis of the Report on the 186 (minus one page) Manhattan Tunnel Project (MTP) by E. Gary Stickel

Stickel asks his readers to believe that the goals of the excavation project were "to objectively search for data bearing on the questions of whether there were subterranean openings (tunnels and/or rooms under the preschool)," and that his staff was "up to the challenge" of fulfilling those goals under the highly emotional circumstances surrounding the McMartin case.146

But incredulity sets in with the report's introduction written by Roland C. Summit. From that point on the reader becomes increasingly aware that the author set goals beyond his own reach.147 The result is a highly partial and needlessly uninformed historiography.

Stickel begins his report by referring to an "Emmy Award-winning segment" of the McNeil/Lehrer Newshour, which (like most other press accounts of that time period) was highly slanted against the defendants and implied that the prosecution withheld vital evidence.148 Stickel praises it as a "good visual summary of the case."149

Stickel's subsequent assurance to the readers that "in every instance . . . the only newspaper accounts that are cited in this report are those that have witnesses to corroborate the accuracy of their statements" does not overcome our skepticism on the degree of objectivity actually involved in this and other matters discussed in the report. As with the author's abundant reliance on McMartin protagonist Jackie McGauley as a major source of guidance and information in what follows, 150 objectivity succumbs quickly to bias.

For example, (a) one paragraph of Stickel's introduction cites 21 "clinicians" who give credence to claims of ritual abuse, versus citing only two other publications among the many available written by academically reputable sociological, psychological, and psychiatric researchers who are highly skeptical about so-called "ritual sexual abuse," and (b) another paragraph of the report cites as "definitive" Waterman's 1990 study of the long-range effects upon the children of unproven ritual sex abuse, a study that accepted carte blanche the truthfulness of the stories elicited from the alleged child victims.

Page 26-32

Two out-of-sequence but important sections fall within these pages: "History of the Project Parcels" and "Geological/Natural History of Soil Deposit and Methodology." The first section provides basic information about the property's history of ownership, including the construction and location of a house and garage that once stood on the side lot. Dates and notes about the construction of the school are also provided. But important information available in the SRS report, which tends to contradict Stickel's conclusions, has been omitted.

For example, there is no reference to the large broken concrete garage slab that the author and parents seem to have mistaken as a "mysterious" object. There is no mention of the tar paper and glass greenhouse that once existed on the neighboring property. And the author assumes, without considering other publicized accounts that claim otherwise, that the "first construction on the preschool lot [i.e. Manhattan Beach Blvd.] was the Virginia McMartin Preschool itself."

Nor is their any mention of the fact, clearly noted in the SRS report, that the area of the side lot was used as a trash dump prior to 1942. All of these facts, if known, shed a completely different and exculpatory light on the artifacts interpreted later in the MTP report as incriminating evidence.

The next section on the geological/natural history of the soil on the project contains a discussion of artificial fill defined as "earth materials placed for some sort of construction" or "any soil, mineral, or rock material, indurated or unindurated, and any included materials of whatever origin, such as trash, physically emplaced by man."151 A 1982/83 Walt Disney sandwich bag, found in the alleged tunnel entrance under the foundation footing of classroom 4, is said to indicate the date after which the defendants allegedly refilled the tunnel. This issue is discussed later.

Page 6

The MTP report states, "For reasons unknown, the defense decided to explore the site with its own excavation. Mr. Paul Bynum, a former Hermosa beach Police lieutenant who was hired as a defense investigator . . . conducted a dig for evidence at the subject site. The prosecution never questioned the appropriateness of allowing the defense to conduct its own excavation, or why the defense would even want to conduct such an excavation (i.e. if there was no evidence as they argued, then why even look for any?)"

Stickel points out the "keen interest" in animal remains, since children had "testified that tortoises, rabbits, and other small animals were mutilated" to scare the children into silence. He continues, "Bynum was slated to testify on these data [excavated animal remains] . . . but was found shot to death the night before. . . . It is not surprising that the defense could dismiss its own gathered data as irrelevant."

The insinuations that the McMartin defense had something to hide, that they suppressed evidence, and that Bynum's death was somehow connected to his recovery of animal remains from the McMartin property are irresponsible and without foundation. If the author has real evidence to support these claims, why not present it?

The defense investigator's excavations were conducted on the vacant lot next to the school for the purpose of collecting any existing evidence of animal remains and having it examined by veterinary pathologists for evidence of traumatic death. The remains of two tortoises were examined and no evidence of trauma was found.152

Page 6

Stickel begins a chronological history of the parents' search for tunnels and the subsequent excavation by the District Attorney's team of archaeologists. In constructing this history Stickel is either unaware of or ignores the atmosphere of parental, public, and media hysteria and other sources of pressure upon all participants, including children, parents, police, CII social workers, therapists, and District Attorney representatives during the period antecedent to the preliminary hearings and the two trials. This atmosphere gave rise to cross-germination of abuse stories and direct or indirect manipulation of the children by all of the above-listed sources of pressure to create these stories, as noted earlier.

It is also significant that Stickel is apparently unaware of the two smaller excavations conducted by McMartin parents near classroom #4 prior to the particular parental excavation he first recounts in this report. He also appears unaware of critical aspects of the DA's investigation regarding the reported locations of underground tunnels and secret rooms. Other facts known to Stickel are similarly ignored.

Page 6-7

"The observation (in about April, 1985) of some unusual construction activity on the side lot, as evidenced by a pile of dumped concrete (McGauley, 1992: personal communication), led to the parents' interests in exploring the site. In addition, on Wednesday March 13, 1985, the parents observed a new feature of a squarish concrete slab, located northeast of the avacodo tree and near the southwest corner of classroom #4."

Stickel then notes that the parents obtained permission from side-lot's owner, Mr. Arnold Goldstein, to dig for a secret room and that they began "unsystematically digging on Saturday March 16, 1985." And then, "They could find nothing under the mysterious concrete slab" (emphasis added).

Considering the history of development of the lot next door by its successive owners, it is hard to understand why Stickel thinks that the concrete slab sitting on that lot was unusual or important. He does not consider the possibility that at some previous date the side-lot property owners left the discarded slab in the yard rather than hauling it to the dump. Does Stickel mean to imply that the "mysterious" concrete had something to do with tunnels? If so, he may not have read the SRS report which gives a logical and perfectly normal explanation for the presence of a square of concrete on the vacant lot, as follows:

The property comprising the McMartin Preschool and the adjacent vacant corner lot was purchased by the Morris family in October, 1942 (Mark Morris, personal communication, 1985). The lot where the McMartin Preschool now stands was vacant, and a small frame house, about the size of a large garage, stood near the front of the lot. . . . A double garage on a concrete slab occupied the northwest corner of the lot. The garage faced Walnut Street and was located about two feet in from the street; there was no driveway. From the rear of the garage (the east side) a door opened up into the back yard. A sidewalk was once located somewhere east of the structure, although Mr. Morris could not recall exactly where it ran (emphasis added).153

An abundance of small cement slabs dispersed throughout the site represent the remnants of a larger slab which once covered a portion of the site. Roughly rectangular in shape, this slab encompassed a 25 meter square area which extended from 2 to 10 m south of the northern property boundary and 2 to 5 m west of its eastern limits. This rough-poured slab, recently fragmented as a result of unauthorized backhoe operations, apparently formed part of the floor of a garage which previously stood on the northern end of the property.154

Morris' description would place the sidewalk in the same approximate location as the parents' "mysterious" square concrete slab. (see photo, p. 117)

Page 11

"The District Attorney's Office made a decision not to explore under the preschool building itself even though this was where the children reported both entrances to the tunnels as well as the tunnels and possibly the presence of the room or rooms." And on page 94 of the report's conclusion, Stickel states, "It should be noted here that most of the children's reports about 'tunnels' or buried 'rooms' have repeatedly emphasized that they were located under the preschool not in the adjacent side lot . . . Despite this fact, the archaeologists were 'limited' to digging in the side lot."

This misconception is also fostered by Roland C. Summit in his introduction to the report: "Prosecutors, forced to a showdown, commissioned a superficial search of open terrain and, without going under the concrete floor of the preschool, branded the tunnel stories as bogus."

Searches conducted by SRS and prosecutors on the vacant lot and school site, respectively, were not superficial. SRS excavated and used the terrain conductivity meter in areas identified "by several children" as the site of an underground secret room.155 And the District Attorney's investigators peeled back floor tiles and searched other locations to find trap doors at locations described by 11 children at the preschool site. There was no need to look under the foundation where openings or seals in the concrete were nonexistent. It seems virtually impossible that at least 16 trap doors, reported to be employed at different locations throughout the school building, play yard and side lot, could have been constructed without being noticed by visiting outsiders, including parents.

DA's investigators peeled back floor tiles where children said trap doors led to underground tunnels and devil rooms, but the trap doors did not exist.  (From court documents)

In summaries of children's tunnel and secret room accounts provided by therapist Martha Cockriel, prior to either of the parents' first two excavations, none of the children said there was a room under the preschool. Every location given for the secret room was in the vacant lot area searched for by the parents in their first major dig and by SRS. Ten days after the parents unsuccessfully searched the vacant lot for the secret room, some of the 11 children interviewed at the school site by the DA's investigators said that there were tunnels under the school building. About half of those children said the secret room was in the vacant lot.156 Although four children from the combined groups reported trap doors in Ray's room, none of them said that there was a secret room under his floor. (Stickel claims to have found a "possible" secret room under Ray's room.)

Page 11

Stickel points out that SRS surveyors detected two underground soil anomalies in the side lot and that the ground there was not excavated. He thus concludes, "Thus the [SRS] archaeologists were put in the position of not being allowed to search in the primary lot (the McMartin Preschool lot per se), were not allowed to excavate and identify the two anomalies detected by their own project's remote sensing survey, and were even restricted in where they could dig within the side lot itself."

Stickel's implication that possible tunnels or secret rooms went undetected and that the preschool lot was not surveyed contrasts with the SRS report. The SRS report indicates that "Terrain conductivity measurements were obtained within a limited area on the McMartin property, primarily in the west and south play yards," but that additional sensing work was precluded by interference from "buildings, fences, and permanent metal fixtures." Both conductivity anomalies detected were determined to be insignificant, "possibly indicating the presence of a source of slightly altered ground conditions at a shallow depth," not a likely indication of a tunnel or secret room. Given the history of the two lots, animal remains or trash deposits could have accounted for the anomalies.
 

The Dark Truth About the "Dark Tunnels of McMartin"

bulletThe Beginning
bulletThe Accusation
bulletThe Letter
bulletChildren's Institute International
bulletHysteria Spreads
bulletNews Media Coverage and National Hysteria
bulletFollowing the Money
bulletDr. Roland C. Summit
bulletSatanic Trappings and the Search for The Secret Rooms and Tunnels
bulletIncredibly Weak Evidence
bulletSummit Defends MacFarlane's Interviews of the McMartin Children, Without Reviewing the Interviews
bulletJudy Johnson's Increasingly Bizarre Behavior
bulletThe Trial Verdicts
bulletParents Begin Search For Tunnels
bulletRevisionist History: Judy Johnson and The Dark Tunnels of McMartin
bulletThe Third McMartin Trial
bulletEthics, Professors, Indiana Jones, Switzerland, and Early (Very Early) Man
bulletTunnel Precursors
bulletBob Currie
bulletOrigin of a Secret Room
bulletFrom Santa Claus To Lions
bulletMultiple Molestations: Devils, a Dead Baby, and a Ghost
bulletTunnel Therapy
bulletThe District Attorney's Excavation
bullet[MAP]
bulletAnalysis of the Report on the 186 (minus one page) Manhattan Tunnel Project (MTP) by E. Gary Stickel
bulletMTP Archeological Methodology Employed by E. Gary Stickel
bulletSite Contamination By Manhattan Tunnel Project
bulletPhotographic Documentation of the MTP Archeological Procedures
bulletStickel's Conclusions About the Evidence He Claims to Have Obtained from the Archeological MTP Project
bulletThe Missing Tunnel
bulletEstimating Dates of "Tunnel" Artifacts
bulletConclusions
bulletEndnotes
 

 
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