LOS ANGELES, JULY 14 -- Defense attorney Dean Gits opened his side's case in the McMartin Pre-School trial today, calling his client, Peggy McMartin Buckey, "the real victim" in the child-molestation case.

Buckey, 60, and her son, Raymond Buckey, 29, are accused of molesting 14 children at the Manhattan Beach preschool they operated. Raymond Buckey faces 79 counts of molestation, and his mother faces 20 counts. Both also are charged in a single conspiracy count.

Gits told the jury, "It is the defense's theory of this case that the victims here are Mrs. Buckey, the teachers {other teachers at the preschool were charged with molestation, but the charges were dropped last year}, the children, the parents, the Manhattan Beach Police Department, and Children's Institute International."

Gits said the nearly four-year-old case was "one of victims and bad guys, not one of trust and betrayal of that trust," as the prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Lael Rubin, had described it yesterday.

The prosecution won the first confrontation in the trial when Superior Court Judge William Pounders barred the use of portions of key videotapes in Gits's opening statement.

The tapes show four of the alleged victims testifying at a pretrial hearing and being interviewed by social workers.

Pounders warned Gits that he was not allowed to compel the jury in an opening statement and ruled that the tapes were taken out of context and were prejudicial. "This would be the jury's first view of what might be evidence, which is inappropriate to present at this time."

Pounders joined reporters in the jury box to preview the tapes, which Gits said would help show how the children were "shaped" and "coached" in their responses to questions about the alleged molestations by therapists at Children's Institute International, a Los Angeles child-abuse diagnostic and treatment center.

One tape shows a girl being shown a picture of Peggy Buckey by an institute therapist. When asked if she recognizes the picture, the girl says "no." The therapist then explains who Peggy Buckey is. The tape then shows the same girl testifying at a preliminary hearing about three years later, where she says that Peggy Buckey molested her.

Gits told the jury how the complaint of one mother of a McMartin Pre-School student in August 1983 to Manhattan Beach Police set off a panic among parents whose children had attended the school.

Gits said initial police inquiries yielded nothing, but parents grew increasingly concerned as word of the inquiry spread. When the district attorney's office hired Children's Institute International, Gits said, "parents became absolutely committed to the belief that their children had been molested."

Gits said the medical testimony the prosecution plans to present will be "a hotbed of contention."

The trial, expected to last one to two years, will resume next Monday.