Indictment: The McMartin Trial
Written byAbby Mann
Myra Mann
Directed byMick Jackson
StarringLolita Davidovich
Shirley Knight
Mercedes Ruehl
Henry Thomas
Sada Thompson
James Woods
Nicollette Sheridan
Roberta Bassin
Theme music composerPeter Rodgers Melnick
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersAbby Mann
Oliver Stone
Janet Yang
ProducerDiana Pokorny
Production locationLos Angeles
CinematographyRodrigo García
EditorRichard A. Harris
Running time131 minutes
Production companiesHBO Pictures
Abby Mann Productions
Breakheart Films
Original networkHBO
Picture formatColor
Audio formatDolby SR
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 and Roberta Bassin as the mother who initiated the 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. George Freeman is the star witness in the trial. Kee MacFarlane and Wayne Satz are in a romantic relationship. The poster and ads for the movie declare "The charges were so shocking, the truth didn't matter."[1]



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.[2]

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.[1]

The Los Angeles Times described the docudrama as "HBO’s frothing, highly opinionated account of the case".[3] Variety reports this "fact-based HBO Pictures presentation ... makes no apologies for depicting the infamous child molestation case as a witch hunt" and leaves "little leeway for surprise. Even so, the well-acted cabler hits its targets with a take-no-prisoners gusto".[4]


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[5] 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, recasting Ray Buckey as a victim of a hysterical conspiracy rather than a child abuser.[6]


  1. ^ a b Mydans, Seth (1995-05-14). "A Child-Abuse Case, in the Eyes of the Accused". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  2. ^ O'Connor, John J. (1995-05-19). "The Horrors Behind The McMartin Trial". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  3. ^ "Revisiting the McMartin Case : 'Indictment,' a Passionate, Highly Opinionated Retelling of the Preschool Sex Abuse Scandal, Hits Hard at TV News Overkill". Los Angeles Times. 20 May 1995.
  4. ^ "Indictment: The Mcmartin Trial". 18 May 1995.
  5. ^ "Indictment: The McMartin Trial".
  6. ^ Baringer, S (2004). The metanarrative of suspicion in late twentieth century America. Routledge. p. 71. ISBN 0-415-97076-8.