Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2002


The McMartin Preschool child abuse case began in 1983 in Manhattan Beach, California, and was one of the most visible cases in history. Although two trials were conducted and no convictions were obtained, some individuals continue to believe that dozens of children were sexually abused at the preschool. In 1990 an archeologist was hired to determine whether tunnels had existed under the school because some of the children had alleged that some of their abuse took place in tunnels under the building. The archeologist’s report was issued in 1993. It concluded that evidence of back-filled tunnels had been found. This critical analysis of the archeologist’s report concludes otherwise, that what the archeologist found was actually the filled-in remains of a rural family’s trash pit that pre-dated construction of the school. Regarding artifacts discovered in soil under the preschool, alternative interpretations to those of the archeologist are given. A theoretical functional analysis of the variables that may have accounted for the archeologist’s evident misinterpretation is presented.


Published by the University of Illinois at Chicago Library.

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© 2002 W. Joseph Wyatt. Readers of this article may copy it without the copyright owner’s permission, if the author and publisher are acknowledged in the copy and the copy is used for educational, not-for-profit purposes.