Indictment: The McMartin Trial

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Indictment: The McMartin Trial
Written by Abby Mann
Myra Mann
Directed by Mick Jackson
Starring Lolita Davidovich
Shirley Knight
Mercedes Ruehl
Henry Thomas
Sada Thompson
James Woods
Nicollette Sheridan
Roberta Bassin
Theme music composer Peter Rodgers Melnick
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Diana Pokorny
Cinematography Rodrigo García
Editor(s) Richard A. Harris
Running time 135 minutes
Distributor HBO Pictures
Budget HBO
Original release
  • May 20, 1995 (1995-05-20)

Indictment: The McMartin Trial is a film made for television that originally aired on HBO on May 20, 1995. Indictment is based on the true story of the McMartin preschool trial.

Oliver Stone and Abby Mann were executive producers of the film, which was directed by Mick Jackson.

The cast includes James Woods and Mercedes Ruehl, as opposing defense and prosecuting attorneys in the McMartin trial. Henry Thomas, Sada Thompson and Shirley Knight co-star as the defendants in the case, with Lolita Davidovitch as a child-abuse therapist whose findings were crucial to the prosecution's case.


A defense lawyer defends an average American family from shocking allegations of child abuse and satanic rituals. After seven years and $16 million, the trial ends with the dismissal of all charges.



John J. O'Connor, writing for The New York Times:

This is a portrait of mass hysteria, fueled by panic-stricken parents, overzealous prosecutors, irresponsible talk shows and an out-of-control tabloid press ... Is "Indictment" balanced? Is it fair to the other side? No. As Mr. [Abby] Mann puts it, "What other side?" Watch it and shudder.[1]

Also writing for The New York Times, Seth Mydans said:

The film makes no pretense at objectivity: There are good guys in the McMartin saga, and there are very, very bad guys ...


Nor does the film try to examine difficult issues. It is a drama not so much about the painful process of assessing children's stories of abuse or about the fear and guilt their parents feel but about the destructiveness of a system run amok.[2]


Award Category Nominee Result
53rd Golden Globe Awards Best Miniseries or Television Film Won
Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film James Woods Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Henry Thomas Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Miniseries or Television Film Shirley Knight Won
47th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Made for Television Movie Won
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special James Woods Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Special Shirley Knight Won
Sada Thompson Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Directing for a Miniseries or a Special Mick Jackson Nominated
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries or a Special Abby Mann & Myra Mann Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Casting Mali Finn Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Editing for a Miniseries or a Special - Single Camera Production Richard A. Harris Won
Directors Guild of America Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Specials Mick Jackson Won


The film is cited as a watershed in the shift of ideas about satanic ritual abuse in the United States, recasting Ray Buckey as a victim of a hysterical conspiracy rather than a child abuser.[3]


  1. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1995-05-19). "The Horrors Behind The McMartin Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  2. ^ Mydans, Seth (1995-05-14). "A Child-Abuse Case, in the Eyes of the Accused". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  3. ^ Baringer, S (2004). The metanarrative of suspicion in late twentieth century America. Routledge. p. 71. ISBN 0-415-97076-8.

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