Thursday, July 2, 2009

Comments, Musings, and Thanks to the Witnesses

There is some spirited discussion going on in some of the comments:
DeleteAnonymous said..

I find the comment by Decker curious for other reasons. We have seen all this time that Decker has been the most professional person associated with this case. He has also been open in speaking with many parents and victims alike. If he feels that Balfour could jeopardize the case, HIS CASE, then maybe we should be open minded to consider that to be true. There is clearly things both sides are privy to that we are not in regards to Balfour. As a parent who is emotionally attached to this case, I am willing to accept that to be the case and respect Decker's professional judgment. It was Balfour's insistence that pushed the case forward, but it was Decker's hard work that brought it to trial. Both are entitled to some consideration on all our part.

July 2, 2009 8:46 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

To 8:46 am, July 2, 2009

San Mateo Chief Deputy DA Steve Wagstaffe - the prosecutor's boss - has personally contradicted Decker's statement to Balfour on five separate occasions. He has informed her repeatedly that if she got on the stand it would be a disaster for the Weinberg.
Additionally, Wagstaffe's direct quote to Balfour was "So what if Weinberg calls you? It's no secret what you've done. It's all been printed. There's nothing there Weinberg can use."

Wagstaffe personally told Balfour that he believed that she will never be called to the stand because it would be "suicide" and a "disaster" for the defense. He also said that she would have nothing to add to Weinberg's case and would hurt it.

Wagstaffe also sent out many emails to San Mateo Citizens and others around the country that Weinberg had excluded Balfour as a "ruse "and that she would never be called. So he's gone public with this statement.

So who you gonna believe ? Chief Deputy DA Wagstaffe, or Decker ? Either Wagstaffe has no communication with his prosecutor and Decker, or he is not telling the truth to Balfour. At any rate, the San Mateo DA's office needs to get their stories straight... as it stands now, they're operating like a whipsaw.

We are sorry that you are a parent, but this is not Decker's case or Balfour's case or the prosecutors. This is the victims' case.

July 2, 2009 9:06 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DA has wasted a ridiculous amount of energy worrying about Balfour. They need to focus their energies in explaining the many inconsistencies in the victims' statements to police.

After Weinberg examined Decker as his his first witness, many people were starting to doubt that the prosecutor can win their case.

Too bad that seventh victim dropped out. It's also too bad that another in statute victim who was molested that we know of has not come forward to the police.

July 2, 2009 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

We heard that Detective Decker told a victim's parent that if Balfour were to be called to the stand, it could potentially destroy the DA's case. Huh?

James P. Fox and Steve Wagstaffe have been prosecutors for 39 and 32 years. They are responsible for this case. They have known about Victoria Balfour from the start, she has caused this case to exist. If they produce a case where she could harm or destroy it they deserve to lose it. Also it would have been a deliberate act.

Welcome to San Mateo County

Michael G. Stogner

Well, at the risk of fanning the fire, I’ll jump in on this one too:

From my perspective, both posters (All three posters?) have alluded to some valid points:

Decker was very careful to not ask leading questions during his interviews (at least he was with me.) From a POLICE perspective, then, based on their understanding of the necessity to be very procedural with ALL contact with victims, I’d guess that he thinks that Balfour is a risk, in that she has, over the years had private conversations with some of the victims. There is the potential for the defense to claim that she has planted false memories or divulged information that would influence the witness testimony. This could indeed be dangerous to the prosecution.

On the other hand, the defense would be risking quite a bit actually calling Balfour as a hostile witness. Without interviewing her first, the defense would be risking getting sued by his client for malpractice if Balfour damaged the case. Any questioning that the defense did would potentially leave openings for Balfour to introduce information that that defense has previously successfully argued to have suppressed. Take this COMPLETELY THEORETICAL example:

Theoretical Defense: “Did you ever have a conversation with a victim about what happened in the office?”
Theoretical Balfour: “No, but I did hear a parent talking about one occasion when a victim mentioned seeing nude photos of boys in a “locker room situation” from the child porn book “Coming of Age, which is probably the same one that the police found in ayres’ file cabinet, locked away from his family, in storage right where he left it, right next to all of his patients files! How creepy is that?”

Oops! I’m no lawyer, but I don’t think they could call a mistrial on that, after all, she would have been the defense’s witness…
Defense: “I call for a mistrial!”
Judge: She’s YOUR WITNESS, you nitwit! Why didn’t you ask her nicely not to mention the book that you had suppressed?
Maybe I've been drinking too much kool-aide, but I think, as a witness, Balfour is at best a double-edged sword, and Weinberg’s side is dull rusty iron, while the prosecutor’s side is honed steel. Best for both sides to avoid if possible. Don't want to risk tetanus, don't want your head lopped off.

So my summary feeling about all of this:

I like Decker. I think he’s honest and hard working, and from his perspective, Balfour is problematic due to the unknown content of her discussion with the victims.

I don’t think it was EVER actually intended for Balfour to be called as a witness by EITHER side, and I think this became clear to the judge.

I like Balfour, she’s pushed and pushed when no one else would. I think it creates some natural animosity.

For what it’s worth, I’ve had some discussions with Balfour, and prior to writing about some (minor) specifics here on this blog, and in comments on other blogs (after other victim’s testimony was published) the ONLY person who I’ve EVER discussed specifics with was Decker. AND, until seeing the press and bloggers writings about the testimony from the victims, I have never HEARD any information from or about others with regard to what went on in there, other than what was reported early on in the mainstream press (which was largely incorrect in specifics.)

The bottom line at this point is that we now get to focus on the defense’s presentation:

We will get to hear “experts” on memory loss talk about boring and non-relevant minutiae, and we will get to hear character witnesses talk about ayres being a big pillar, and we will possibly get to hear “expert” shrinks perjure themselves talking about how perfectly OK it is for a shrink to enjoy fondling a long string of little boys.

We can all be shocked together if it ever comes to fruition that Weinberg puts Balfour or ayres up on the stand, which will occur if Weinberg wants it to, regardless of anything that has happened in the past, or anything that the prosecutor could have tried to stop it.

Some final thoughts:

If I were on that witness stand testifying, my hope would be that NO ONE BE IN THE COURTROOM, Not Decker, not Balfour, not my parents, not the press, not all of these crazy gadfly bloggers. Not the beast, or his crappy little family.

SO I think I owe a GREAT debt of gratitude to those who had the courage to sit there. And for those that didn’t want to testify: I understand with all of my soul, and I hope that we all can heal quickly, don't let this be an extra burden of guilt. We all have had enough.


  1. DS:

    At this point, you sound like the only one with a decent perspective on the case. Thank you !

  2. Hah... that's the writing "me" the "real" me just ran out the door screaming in anger at everyone, looking for somewhere to hide. He'll be back in awhile... at least, he usually is...

  3. DS, oh wise one, I'm simply hoping that the jury can use some common sense when listening to Whiiney's "experts."

    Basically the bottom line is "Does all of this sound right to YOU?"

    Don't all of us understand that our memories are NOT movies in our heads? Don't all of us understand that we do not have a perfect memory of any given day? Don't each of us have memory fragments about an important event in our lives? Marriage? The birth of a child? A loved one's funeral? A doctor's visit for a minor problem? We remember things in bits and pieces. I can't remember what I had for dinner the day my daughter was born, but I sure remember her being born?

    Would YOU touch a stranger's genitals without gloves in a NON-SEXUAL situation?

    Most importantly, ask yourself "If my son needed psychiatric treatment, would I want his treatment to mirror that of the former patients, now survivors of Dr. Ayres' "treatment?"

    I think not. Even looking at the old ill man he has become, you cannot say that he does not deserve some sort of punishment for what he did.

    I may continue ranting and raving over at T & T later. I have something about half-done, including a list of what I feel Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan failed to clarify. Perhaps it's rules of evidence that made it impossible for her to bring them up, so hopefully she can clarify why things weren't brought up during her closing arguments.

    At least she gets the last word, and I sincerely hope she makes the best of it!

  4. Yeah.. I think we're all hoping that the jury "gets" as much of the subtle underlying "gut feeling" about all of this as they can.

    Please do keep ranting and raving over there!

    You touch on something that I've got some strong feelings about that perhaps I need to write about again:

    I've always found it odd that people seem have more sympathy for someone who's old and frail who's done something horrible on purpose, or who did it a long time ago and never got caught, and are still trying to cover it up.

    I've never felt that way. I have the sympathy, but it simply does not connect in a mitigating way for me. Possibly that's the result of this mess, I don't know for sure.

    I'm just not good at extending "credit" unless it's on good faith. And being old and frail now, may be in part due to the stress he's imposed upon himself by the evil he's done and had to cover all of these years, so It's a wash for me...

    The other example of this is: I think that if ayres ever actually took the Hippocratic Oath (Do they make doctors/shrinks do that?) He didn't really mean it in good faith. And if there IS any good that he did, over his "career" it was either accidental, or done in bad faith to allow further access to victims, and therefore he is not, and NEVER HAS been a doctor of any kind, and has done NO good.

    I guess logically, I'm a boundary guy... put things on a nice narrow edge and see which way they tip.

  5. Speaking of The Beast's "crappy little family", where's daughter Barbara? Is it true she doesn't speak to her parents? If so, why?

  6. Maybe Barbara isn't crappy.

  7. It appears that Barbara won't be attending the trial. I guess we all never know the reason why.

    I to wanted to thank the witnesses. I know how difficult it must be.

    I do have one funny thing that happened before I was going to take the witness stand, nothing as serious as this case. So thanks to the witnesess and I hope this never happens to you:

    I get called up, just as I am about to pull the chair out the lawyer says please state your name thinking I would already be sitting down.

    The last witness had shoved the chair in really hard.

    I stated "the chair is stuck". So I guess the transcript reads that is my name.

    Chuckles errupted from the court room. The bailiff comes over acting like I am a big wimp and this big dude has to use bruit force to pull out the chair.

    So I am looking at the bailiff SEE it was stuck!