Monday, June 22, 2009

The Wanderer Newspaper has a Big Article up on the Ayres case

This article was just published in the Wanderer, a long-running Catholic weekly. Volume 142, no. 26. June 25, 2009.
This is for paid subscribers only, but we received a copy of the story. Nice to see the plug for our blog in the story as well.
Molestation Trial . . .
Might Begin Soon For Prominent Psychiatrist


The long- awaited trial of San Mateo psychiatrist and alleged pe dophile William Ayres, once one the nation’s leading advocates of childhood sex education in the 1960s and a former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has been set for June 23.
Ayres, 77, was arrested in April 2007 on charges he molested pre teen boys sent to him for psychi atric evaluations, but allegations against him for sex abuse were first made more than 20 years ago, though rarely pursued by the police. At the time of his arrest,
The San Francisco Chronicle’s John Cote reported on April 6, 2007 that Ayres “was a fixture in San Ma teo County mental health and po litical circles. He served with San Mateo County District Attorney Jim Fox and Supervisor Richard Gor don on the county’s Children and Families First Commission, and in 2002, he was honored by the coun ty board of supervisors with a life time achievement award for ‘his tire less effort to improve the lives of children and adolescents.’ “ During his long and distin guished career as a local child psy chiatrist, he received patient refer rals from the San Mateo County juvenile justice system.
“ From 1993 to 1995, he served as president of the American Acad emy of Child and Adolescent Psy chiatry, the leading professional medical association for child psy chiatrists with more than 7,500 members nationwide.”
At the time of his arrest, he was charged with 14 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with three mi nor boys, but in the years since, largely due to the work of New York journalist Victoria Balfour, who began searching and track ing down other possible abuse victims, that number has now grown to, at least, 22 victims.
Ayres’ arrest, continued Cote, “ follows years of accusations against the doctor that raised red flags but never amounted to a criminal case. It was only after San Mateo police received a com plaint in 2002 that authorities ob tained a search warrant in March 2006 for Ayers’ medical records, police said.
“Among some of the other accu sations that are documented in pub lic records but never led to crimi nal charges are the following: “At least five men — none of them the alleged victims in the crim inal case — claim in police reports, civil depositions and a Child Pro tective Services report that Ayres molested them in their youth.
“ One of those former patients sued Ayres in December 2003, ac cusing the psychiatrist of mastur bating him under the guise of a medical exam on multiple occasions in the late 1970s when the patient was 13 years old. The case was set tled confidentially in 2005.
“Police investigated at least two other molestation reports against Ayres before the 2003 lawsuit, records and deposition transcripts show. One was determined to be ‘ unfounded’ in 1987, and the al leged victim in the other didn’t cooperate with police, according to those records and statements.
“At least two other men came forward separately in 2005 saying Ayres had also molested them as teens in the 1960s and 1970s, but the cases could not be prosecuted because the statute of limitations had expired, police reports show.”

The San Mateo County Times’

Elizabeth Pfeffer reported on May 30, 2009 that the prosecutor in the case, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKow an, said that accusations against Ayers go back at least 30 years.
One of the many reasons Ayres trial has been delayed so long is
that his attorney, Doron Weinberg, has been preoccupied with an other high- profile client, the mu sic producer Phil Spector, who was recently jailed for life for the mur der of actress Lana Clarkson.
Police first began investigating Ayres in 2002, reported Pfeffer, “ after being told by a man who was a patient of Ayres in the 1970s that the doctor had molest­ed him on multiple occasions. But the case had to be dropped after a U. S. Supreme Court ruling effec tively changed the statute of lim itations on such cases.
“ Childhood molestation can only be brought by victims who are younger than 29 or whose al leged abuse occurred after January 1, 1998.
“ The San Mateo Police Depart ment reopened the case in March 2006, at the urging of a friend of one of the victims to seek out oth er possible victims who fell with in the legal statute of limitation.
“ That friend was New York based freelance writer Victoria Balfour, who made it a personal crusade to unearth possible moles tation victims of Ayres and help authorities build a case against him.
“A search warrant was executed for Ayres’ records, and a list was compiled of more than 800 pa tients. Prosecutors believe they know of at least 39 former patients of Ayres who had been molested by him, but most did not fall un der the state’s statute of limita tions.”
Pfeffer also described some of the reasons for the delay in the tri al: “The first major setback came in February 2008 when Ayres was di agnosed with prostate cancer and a judge postponed the start of his trial from March 10 to June 23 of that year, in order for him to seek immediate treatment.
“A month later, a state appeals court ruled that Ayres deserved a new hearing on a defense motion that could have destroyed the pros ecution’s case against him.
“ Weinberg planned to try to suppress evidence gathered from Ayres’ patient files on the basis that the warrant violated the state’s psychotherapist- patient privilege, lacked probable cause and permitted constitutionally prohibited searches.
“ The motion was ultimately dismissed but a further delay came when San Mateo County Su perior Court Judge John Runde unexpectedly recused himself from the case. Both prosecuting and defense attorneys were baffled by the event, and a new trial was set for January 2009. That date, however, conflicted with the scheduling of the Spector murder trial in Los Angeles County Supe rior Court.
“Ayres was known nationally,” Pfeffer continued, “ as one of the country’s top child psychiatrists; he was just as well respected on the Peninsula where he ran a pri vate practice for decades. He was probably one of fewer than ten San Mateo County psychiatrists with a subspecialty in child and ado lescent psychiatry, according to San Mateo County Medical Asso ciation Executive Director Sue Malone.
“ He told colleagues he per formed medical examinations be cause that was the way he had been trained. He had done his res idency in the early 1960s at the Judge Baker Center in Boston, one of the country’s premier cen ters for the study of child psychol ogy.”

The San Francisco Examiner’s

Kate Williamson described, the day after Ayres’ 2007 arrest, the prominent role he played in this country’s national sex education debate in the 1960s: “ In 1968, lo cal school districts became ideo logical battlefields in a debate about whether sex education was a proper subject for school. In few places were the arguments as loud as in San Mateo County, where parents boycotted school bond is sues and filed a lawsuit to keep ‘ family life’ education out of the classroom. And at the center of the debate was child psychiatrist Wil liam Ayres, a nationally quoted expert portrayed in many articles as a beacon of reason, accuracy and science.
“Ayres achieved national fame in 1968, after he co- scripted and helped narrate ‘ The Time of Your Life,’ a 13- part television series produced by KQED for use with fourth through sixth- grade stu dents that teaches the broad top ic of family life, including can did sexual discussion. It was praised by educators and doctors, according to
San Francisco Ex aminer
San Francisco Chronicle newspaper articles of the time, but a number of parents objected loudly, declaring it ‘ por nographic.’ Ayres himself said the series was helpful to children.
“ ‘ For many years, kids have been coming into my office know ing some of the “ facts of life,” but with many facts left out. They wind up being bewildered, with a great many concerns and anxieties resulting from their lack of knowl edge,’ he told
The New York Times
in 1969.
“ School officials at the time praised Ayres’ approach.
“ ‘ Our only disagreement is on the depth he went into on mastur bation and the details of human intimacy,’ Assistant County Super intendent of Schools Armin Weems said in August 1968.
“ But in the face of opposition, the San Mateo County Board of Education stopped requiring use of the videos in September 1968 after a trial run with its pilot fami ly life education training, news ar ticles indicated. San Francisco schools dropped using the videos in their own family life program after showing them in the fall of 1967. Both areas still kept sexual education as part of the curricu lum, spurring a parents’ group to file a lawsuit against the San Ma teo County board. The group lost, and the United States Supreme Court dismissed its appealed suit in 1976, according to news re ports.”

His Collection

During a pretrial hearing on June 15, reported
The San Mateo County Times’ Elizabeth Pfeffer, Ayres attorney Doron Weinberg tried to persuade Judge Beth Free man to rule the inadmissibility as evidence against his client some of the books containing nude photographs on young boys po lice found in Ayres’ files.
“ Doron Weinberg told Judge Beth Freeman during a pretrial hearing in San Mateo County Su perior Court that police were not legally authorized to take three graphic picture books from Ayres’ file cabinets May 31 during a search for the missing files of two former patients who will testify against him during the trial. . . .
“ In other motions heard Mon day, Freeman allowed four accus ers who are technically out of stat ute to testify against their former psychiatrist. The records for two of them were missing, and in a recent attempt to uncover them the San Mateo Police Department found the books, which were inside Ayres’ file cabinets.
“ The books were located inside some of seven cabinets that had been stored in a San Mateo Police Department property warehouse since 2006, when a judge ordered police to seize all of Ayres’ patient records.”
From California, several inter ested are “ live blogging” the jury selection process and, presumably, will be live blogging the trial. Some of the most extensive infor mation on Ayres can be found at, which reported recently that Vic toria Balfour has been barred from observing the trial. “ Weinberg also continues his confrontation al ways by arranging to have freelance author Victoria Bal four, the civilian whistleblower who was a driving force in get ting this case brought to trial, re moved from the courtroom, stat ing she is a potential witness,” reported the blog.
“(Even though Balfour’s knowl edge of the case would be consid ered hearsay, as she didn’t observe the abuse and has never had any contact with the seven victims within statute. Because Balfour is a published author, with works ap pearing in
The New York Times, The Washington Post, People, and
among others, one might argue there are some First Amend ments rights being stepped on here by the defense attorney. . . .) “ The [ Ayres] case took on new life in 2005 thanks to Balfour’s own detective work, locating and encouraging former patients of Ayres to speak up about their own abuse, knowing her friend’s abuse ( and the complaint brought in 1987) could not pos sibly have been the only two cas es of molestation. Police in San Mateo began to investigate in earnest, executing a search war rant for Ayres’ patients’ records, identifying possible victims of abuse.
“Ayres had been treating coun ty- referred patients as recently as 2004. . . .
“ This trial will be the first time most of the alleged victims will be testifying in open court. Dur ing a preliminary hearing in 2007, police officers testified in lieu of the former patients, re vealing information the men have shared during the investi gation, describing their ages and their experiences during their ap pointments with Ayres. One San Mateo officer testified that one of the young men said Ayres told him no one would believe his stories of abuse — that no one would believe the good doctor had done such a thing, and no one would believe a troubled teenager.”


  1. The folks at this blog thinks this is a good piece.

    But according to new reports, it now appears that it is not so much Weinberg who was behind getting Balfour pushed out of the courtroom, but the prosecutor:

    From behaviors observed in the courtroom however, it appears that the prosecutor, Melissa McKowan is possibly more opposed than Weinberg to Balfour’s presence during the trial.

  2. Gress press piece with a link to this blog! That is fantastic. Newsworthy, etc.

    Let's hope somebody listens to the people and the press and Victoria Balfour gets back in the court room.

    With the forum shut down at the San Mateo Daily Journal it would be great if we can get the most information possible from this blog.

    Thank you Deep Sounding and members.

  3. Actually the quoted stuff at the end was first posted at Trials and Tribulations. Those are my words.

    Having my words worthy of quoting is quite flattering.

    It's my hope with all of the blogging going on there will bring extensive coverage to this trial and hideous crime, and perhaps more young men will be encouraged to come forward, if not in this case, for their own, wherever they may be.

    And yes, T & T will be there, too, as much as possible.

  4. Caligirl: You should email the Wanderer and get a correction.

  5. FOpening statements in trial of accused child molester Dr. William
    from the san mateo county times this afternnon

    1. By Elizabeth Pfeffer
    San Mateo County Times
    Posted: 06/23/2009 01:51:11 PM PDT
    Updated: 06/23/2009 02:28:13 PM PDT

    REDWOOD CITY — Opening statements began this morning in the long-awaited trial of accused child molester Dr. William Ayres.
    Ayres, 77, practiced child psychiatry in San Mateo County for 40 years before a police investigation produced more than two dozen former male patients claiming the doctor sexually abused them as children.
    Prosecutor Melissa McKowan told a San Mateo County Superior Court jury this morning that Ayres touched his patients inappropriately during physical exams. In many circumstances, Ayres would touch the preadolescent patients' genitals and forego all other elements of the exam, she said.
    "He simply began to touch, fondle, molest or masturbate (the patients)," said McKowan, who told the jury she would call other psychiatrists as witnesses to say that physical exams are not a common practice in their profession.
    Defense attorney Doron Weinberg said that, although the jury will hear from alleged victims who claim the doctor molested them, those charges are false.
    "It's not true," Weinberg said. "He does not molest patients."
    Ayres faces 10 counts of lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 on behalf of six alleged victims who were 9 to 13 years old at the time they say they were abused.
    Additional testimony will come from parents, police officers and four other men who say they were molested but whose cases fall outside the state's statute of limitations. Prosecutors say they know of more than 30 victims who were unable to file criminal charges under the statute.
    Ayres had faced 20 felony molestation charges, but in the final hour a seventh alleged victim pulled out of the trial.
    "These are really emotional difficult cases to go through, and he just doesn't feel he can go through with it," Assistant District Attorney Karen Guidotti said outside the courtroom during a break.
    Guidotti said the loss of this witness could reduce Ayres' sentence by 20 years if he is found guilty.
    Judge Beth Freeman released one juror based on her belief that she improperly discussed the case out of court. The juror had requested her release for other reasons, citing a religious conflict and financial concerns due to her husband's recent layoff from work.
    Another female juror was appointed and sworn in, rounding out the jury of 10 women and two men, with five alternates.
    The trial resumed this afternoon with the continuation of Weinberg's opening statement.

  6. Good video from ABC today at:

    Victoria Balfour is at the end.

  7. I'm closing comments on this thread. No problems with content.. just want to make it easier to manage; feel free to continue discussion on the more recent blog entries.