LOS ANGELES -- Virginia McMartin, the founder of a nursery school where police allege more than 100 students were sexually molested during a 10-year period, said her 'love for and understanding of children' led her to start the school, it was reported Sunday.
The Los Angeles Herald-Examiner published a seven-page typewritten autobiography that Mrs. McMartin gave the newspaper during an interview last month in which she denied any molestation occurred at the McMartin Pre-School in suburban Manhattan Beach.
The wheelchair-bound Mrs. McMartin, 76, her daughter and two grandchildren and three female teachers were indicted last week on 115 counts of child molestation.
In her autobiography, Mrs. McMartin said that when her husband left her and their two children for another woman in 1946 after nearly 20 years of marriage, she was heartbroken and 'there was very little money.'
Mrs. McMartin said she worked as a pottery decorator, secretary at a dancing school and at a church nursery while taking 'every known nursery school course' at various colleges in Southern California.
'An acquaintance suggested I go into nursery school work because of my love for and understanding of children,' she wrote.
In 1956, at age 49, she bought her pre-school in Manhattan Beach with borrowed money.
Enrollment was light at first, but the school grew fast, allowing her to pay off her loans within three and a half years. Soon she was traveling to national and international nursery school conferences, and later opened a second school.
Mrs. McMartin, who is charged with a single count of sexually molesting a child, received several service awards in Manhattan Beach for her contributions. Police Sgt. Jim Noble said her school was one of the 'most prestigious' in the area, with a long waiting list.
'I have a file card for every child that has attended our schools: 3,306 at School I in 20 years, 2,024 at our present school in 17 years (5,330 cards),' Mrs. McMartin wrote in her autobiography.
She said she has suffered from a series of back ailments, which forced her to begin using crutches in 1977, for more than 50 years but she has 'refused to bow to pain and inactivity.
As 'advice to others,' she wrote, 'Have faith in God and his goodness, and live one day at a time -- tis enough!'
Bail was set at from $50,000 to $1 million for Mrs. McMartin, her daughter, Peggy McMartin Buckey, 57; grandchildren Raymond Charles Buckey, 25 and Peggy Ann Buckey, 28; and teachers Babette Spitler, 36, Betty Raidor, 64, and Mary Ann Jackson, 57.
Mrs. McMartin, her daughter and Mrs. Spitler posted bond late Friday and were released. Mrs. Jackson posted bond Saturday and was released.
The highest bail went for Raymond Buckey, who prosecutors charged continued molesting children even after it was known he was under investigation. Buckey faces 75 counts of child molestation.