Monday, August 31, 2009

Re-Trial is a GO!

The Re-Trial is now officially a "GO."
Melissa McKowan announced the people's intent to retry the case.

It APPEARS that Weinberg will be representing ayres again. In chambers (or at some point prior to today's hearing), dates for the re-trial were discussed, but none were selected, and in court, Weinberg then asked for a 2 week continuance before they make a decision.

McKowan stated the people's preference to just set the date, right then and there.

The judge granted the two week continuance, but clarified that they have already discussed potential dates, and that one of those will be selected, so there won't be any further "delay" of the retrial.

The continued hearing will be Friday, September 11th, 2009 at 9AM PST.

(Personal aside: September 11th is always a pretty difficult day for me. This will not be so great, but I'm guessing that McKowan probably suffered long and hard in chambers to keep Weinberg from getting 2 months continuance, so I'm not going to complain too loudly.)

ayres and his wife were present, along with Weinberg and his assistant.

There were 10 other people present in "public" part of the courtroom, at least 9 of whom are known to support the victims in the case. One of them was a juror in the original trial, and was greeted with a very cheerful "Good Morning!" from ayres as he hobbled (allegedly) into the courtroom with his walker.

One representative of the mainstream press was present, just as the judge was wrapping up.
[UPDATE 8/28/2009, 9:30PM PST:] The reporter that showed up at the last moment has published her article. It can be found in the San Mateo County Times. This is an interesting article, and we will have a bit of commentary on it in awhile. You'll note she mentions this blog several times in the article. Well, OK, she doesn't mention the blog by name, instead she refers to us as: "News leaked weeks ago", "Questions were left looming", and  "Amid swirling rumors" but close enough right? (RIGHT?) Yeah...  
There ARE a few interesting tidbits there though, so go read it. We'll discuss later.

[UPDATE 8/31/2009:] As of  11:26am today, the San Mateo County Times has updated their page to include a note that the "fundraising letter" that they discuss was first obtained by Victoria Balfour, and then reported on this blog on the 17th of July. 

Superior Court Clerk's office: 650-599-1170
ayres' criminal case number:SC064366

The County Times Gives The William Ayres Blog Credit for Breaking News- and Rightly So!

A few days ago our correspondents noted that the San Mateo County Times wrote about a Dr. Ayres fundraising letter that they "obtained." Thing is, though, they neglected to mention that this blog obtained that same letter six and a half weeks earlier.

Today the County Times amended its story and gave our blog the proper credit for breaking the news first. Our correspondents work overtime to bring you all the latest in william ayres news, and we do appreciate the credit when credit is due.

Amended story with credit to our blog:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Hey County Times! We Got The Scoop on Ayres' Fundraising First Six Weeks Ago! Where's Our Credit?

Today the San Mateo County Times has a story by Elizabeth Pfeffer called "Ayres To Face Molestation Trial.

While we're always happy to see mainstream stories about Ayres (there can never be enough !) we were decidedly not happy when we saw this passage:

Amid swirling rumors that the former child psychiatrist was running out of money to pay for lawyers, The Times obtained a copy of a fundraising letter circulated on his behalf and signed by 11 colleagues.
The letter, dated from June, shares a concern that the financial burden of legal fees could prevent Ayres from receiving a fair hearing. A portion of it reads, "Bill and Solveig are running out of money after spending two million dollars in their own defense. If Dr. Ayres is going to have a chance at an unbiased trial; he is going to need to use expert witnesses."

Readers of this blog will know that one of our enterprising contributors was the first to obtain a copy of this fund raising letter back on July 17 and we posted it. This contributor went to a considerable amount of effort to obtain that cash fund raising letter and we have to say we consider it poor form that the County Times did not report that the letter had first appeared on our blog. Now we know how the reporters for the dueling papers - the New York Daily News and the New York Post - feel when one paper lift scoops from another without giving credit.

Additionally, a poster named "Jack Kirkpatrick" reposted our fundraising letter over at the San Mateo Daily Journal Forum on July 22, 2009. He was taken to task by readers for not crediting this blog with the information:

For a paper like the County Times that has referred to our contributors as "gadflies" in a story back in July, we guess we should be flattered that they are now taking us seriously enough to take our scoops.

However, there have been a number of occasions when we have gotten scoops first on the Ayres case by good old fashioned shoe leather reporting, - such as when we got an exclusive interview with the first dismissed juror. After we posted the interview, all of a sudden we're getting emails from the County Times and the Mercury News asking us to give away our hard-earned reporting and asking how to get in touch with the juror- for free!!

Well, to the reporters of the Bay Area: when the juror was dismissed, you shoulda been there yourself. We know there are cutbacks at newspapers, but come on guys, start getting out there and doing some real digging yourself!

Here's a suggestion to reporters: start looking hard into Ayres' background at Judge Baker and Children's Hospital in Boston. It certainly can be done. Try to find out why he left Judge Baker. We have sources who have given us information that is potentially very damaging to Ayres, and we would like the reporters from the Bay Area to start hunting this down.

Just this week, the East Coast papers and the Associated Press have all subpoenaed the civil suit molestation records from the Catholic Connecticut diocese. Why doesn't the Associated Press and some of the Bay Area papers all get together and get Ayres' employee records from Boston?

After all, you certainly don't want the Boston Globe scooping you on this. Just sayin'....

And next time you post a story in your paper that first broke here, please give us "gadflies" credit.

[UPDATE 8/31/2009:] As of  11:26am today, the San Mateo County Times has updated their page to include a note that the "fundraising letter" that they discuss was first obtained by Victoria Balfour, and then reported on this blog on the 17th of July.  Looks like the gadflies did get some credit after all. 

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Little Birdy Told Us The New Trial Date Will Be...

January 4th, 2010. No matter what they say about the trial date being set on September 11, odds are good now that it's already been agreed upon as January 4th.

By the way, if this holds, the new trial will start the day after ayres' 78th birthday.
Retrial is a go. There is another hearing on sept 11 2009 to set date. More soon.

Hearing Friday, August 28, 2009

William H Ayres MD Child Molestation TrialTODAY: Friday, August 28th at 9AM PST:
Criminal Molestation Retrial hearing:
The DA will inform the court of the next steps in the ayres case. The DA's office has publicly announced their intent to go ahead with a retrial. Friday's hearing sets the next steps. The hearing will be at 400 County Center, Redwood City. (Same place as the first criminal trial.)

Superior Court Clerk's office: 650-599-1170
ayres' criminal case number:SC064366

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

on the Docket

William Ayres - Accused Child Molester
THIS FRIDAY, August 28th at 9AM PST:
Criminal Molestation Retrial hearing:
The DA will inform the court of the next steps in the ayres case. The DA's office has publicly announced their intent to go ahead with a retrial. Friday's hearing sets the next steps. The hearing will be at 400 County Center, Redwood City. (Same place as the first criminal trial.)

Superior Court Clerk's office: 650-599-1170
ayres' criminal case number:SC064366

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Moral Conundrum

Mr. John Victim owns a small shop on a long stretch of mostly deserted road. He is alone, locking up the store at night one night, when Mr. Random SerialKiller pulls up in his car, hits Mr. Victim over the head with an antique tire iron, and then drives off heading northward into the night, leaving Mr. Victim dead on the side of the road.

Mr. Luke Drinker, coming from the north sees a van coming his way, driving erratically and the driver has what looks to Mr. Drinker like blood on him. Mr. Drinker is somewhat suspicious, so he takes down the license plate.

Mr. Drinker is fairly shaken up. He continues down the road a short distance, when he sees Mr. Victim, lying along the side of the road. Mr. Drinker panics, and swerves hitting a small tree. He leaps out to find Mr. Victim lying on the side of the road. Mr. Victim is displaying no vital signs, and indeed, is clearly irreparably damaged: he is very dead.

Unfortunately, Mr. Drinker has been drinking just a little too much. Knowing that Mr. Victim is already dead, and that he faces a drunken driving charge if he phones the police, he decides that it would be easier if he just pretends like the whole thing never happened, and so he drives off into the night.

About a week later, Mr. Drinker sees a news report that a shopkeeper has been killed with a weapon that left a very unique pattern of damage, identical to the marks left on other victims by a serial killer who they have not been able to identify yet, and for whom they have no good leads. He has killed several people in the last few weeks, and they are sure that he will kill more in the future. The news report makes no mention of the tree, nor do they mention anything about a possible accident at the scene.

What does Mr. Drinker do next?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Case Management Hearing - Brief Update

There was a case management hearing today four of the civil suits brought against william ayres, relating to his molestation of several of the child patients entrusted to his care.

A lawyer for the plaintiffs was present in the courtroom.

UPDATE: 12:00pm PST:
Apparently there were lawyers for one or more of the defendants on a speakerphone, who kept talking over each other and the judge. (We assume that the other listed "John Doe" defendants are the partners in the now defunct PPA medical group.) One of the lawyers for the defendants wanted to wait and see if the DA was going to retry the criminal case, to see what happened there.

The Case Management hearings have been continued to October 28th 2009.
In the mean time the plaintiffs will now be able to file for motion for relief from a stay, to allow for the plaintiff to continue with discovery.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Award for Excellence in the Media - Victoria Balfour

[Original post date: 08/17/09 6:00am PST]
Victoria Balfour, author and reporter, who was driven to action by a colleague’s story of abuse at the hands of psychiatrist William Ayres, managed to figure out who he was, that he was still practicing his “unique” medicine, and became an unstoppable victim’s rights advocate, has been selected as the 2009 recipient for the Award for Excellence in the Media for meritorious public service.

This award is given annually by the Institute of Violence, Abuse, and Trauma and the Leadership Council on Child Abuse & Interpersonal Violence.

Each year the organization recognizes the top media presentations that they feel have contributed the most toward raising social awareness about child abuse and its potential for causing long lasting pain. This year the organization is pleased to present Victoria Balfour for her efforts to expose the allegations against William Ayres which ultimately led to his prosecution. In its notification letter of the award to Balfour, the Council said, "We believe you have performed a valuable service to society by using the power of the media as a catalyst for pursuing justice."

Balfour will be honored in person at the 14th International Conference on Family Violence, Abuse and Trauma in San Diego on Friday September 25, 2009 at the Town & Country Hotel Atlas Ballroom in San Diego, California.

Past honorees of the Award for Excellence in the Media include former pro football player Herschel Walker for his autobiography, Breaking Free; the Mark McGwire Foundation for the documentary on child sexual abuse, "Close to Home"; investigative reporter Kristen Lombardi and the Boston Phoenix for their exposure of the priest pedophile scandal; Amy Berg for her documentary "Deliver Us From Evil"; New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald for his investigation into on-line predators.

Karen Franklin at the "forensicpsychologist" blog has also made mention of this story, and has covered the ayres case in the past.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pedophile Child Psychiatrist Donald Lee Rife and his Yale 50th Reunion.

It's always bugged us that the people who contribute to the class notes section in college alumni magazines always seem to have such perfect lives and families. Call us curmudgeonly, but we've always suspected that behind some of these breathless, Pollyannish reports lurks a much darker reality.

Well, after reading Donald Lee Rife's submission to the Where Are They Now? section for his Yale 50th reunion yearbook, our suspicions have been confirmed.

As some of you readers may know, Donald Lee Rife was a graduate of Yale(class of '57, magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Medical School ('61). He did his training in child psychiatry at William H. Ayres' old stomping ground, Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston from 1964-66. (Ayres trained there from 1959-63.)

It was soon after his graduation from Harvard Medical School that Rife began to lead the life of a pedophile, molesting his young male patients in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Florida. By 1993, his medical license had been revoked in all three states for child molestation.

After this, you'd think someone like Rife-whose pedophilia was the subject of a series of articles in the St. Petersburg Times -would want to keep a low profile.

So imagine our surprise when an alert reader whose husband was in Rife's class at Yale told us that Rife had contributed to the class of 57's 50th Reunion yearbook.

In his entry, Rife lists himself as "retired" and his marital status as "single." Then he writes,

Following Yale, I went to Harvard Medical School and then back to Yale for an internship at Grace-New Haven. Then back to Harvard for a four-year residency in child psychiatry. This was followed by two years in Anchorage, Alaska in the US Air Force. I finally settled in Vermont and opened my private practice in child psychiatry and a part-time teaching position at the University of Vermont. After 25 years, I began to migrate South with brief stints in Virginia and Tallahasee, Florida at the University of Florida Psychiatry department. In 1990, after open heart surgery, I started my retirement with part time consulting. In 1993, I got my Coast Guard Captain's license and started a new career as a Charter Boat captain on my 40-foot trawler.

In retrospect, my days at Yale were some of the greatest in my life. The rich education, the wonderful friends and classmates and the opportunities that opened up were treasure to cherish forever. I did spend my four years at Yale thinking I was the only gay student at Yale.

Here's what Don Rife left out of his life story: From the St. Petersburg Times, "Doctor Loses His License for Misconduct" by Carol Gentry, June 7, 1993:

Between 1969 and 1983... Rife treated thousands of children in Burlington, Vt...
In the 1980s, some of his former patients, now grown, contacted authorities.

Three were men who said that when they were boys - one just 8 years old, the others in their teens, Rife used the counseling sessions to perform sexual acts on them. One said Rife took him to his home and allowed other adult men to abuse him.

Rife also did not mention this: In 1986-87, Rife was on the faculty of the University of Florida and was chief of the Student Medical Center. Also, according to the St. Petersburg Times and police reports, he made friends with the seven -year- old son of his next door neighbor. When the mother discovered a photo in Rife's house of her son holding a cloth frog that had human-sized male genitalia to his mouth, she went to the police. That's when the son told her about the games he played with Rife in the Jacuzzi, with and without their bathingsuits.
Armed with a warrant, police searched Rife's house and found incriminating photos and letters, describing his sexual contact with minors. To the police, Rife admitted his past relationships with minors,though he said that none of those boys were younger than 12.
Unfortunately, prosecutors had to drop the case against Rife when the boy's parents decided testifying would be too traumatic.

In 1993, the state of Florida did revoke Rife's medical license. But Rife couldn't stay away from children. Shortly after he lost his license, he started volunteering as a docent with children for the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg. In 2004, in a story about the docent program, a reporter for the Petersburg Times who was not aware that her paper had done a series about Rife's pedophilia, interviewed Don Rife. In the story, she wrote,"The painter's fantasy style art also includes deep sexual dimensions, but Rife said the museum avoids having the young docents deal with that part of his work."

Not long afterwards, the paper received a tip that this was the same Rife who had been busted for pedophilia. In a followup story, the paper confronted Rife about his criminal past.

"I'm not a pedophile" Rife told the paper." I've had a long-term relationship with a woman and I'm absolutely no danger to a child."

Although he told Yale a different story about his sexual orientation, we're not going to quibble over that. Straight, gay, we don't care what Rife's sexual preferences are.

But we do want him to stay away from children. Despite the fact that the Dali Museum told Rife he could no longer work with children , we wonder if Rife is still finding ways to be around them elsewhere.
(Note. When Dr. William H. Ayres retired, he began volunteering with boys at a center.)

We wonder what the folks in administration at Yale, and Rife's own classmates would think if they knew about Rife's past.

We also wonder if Ayres and Donald Lee Rife ever crossed paths in New Haven or Boston.

Sources: "Doctor Loses License for Misconduct", St. Petersburg Times, June 7, 1993, by Carol Gentry,1872915

"Diminutive Docents Put Child's Spin on Surrealist", St. Petersburg Times, July 25, 2004
"I'm No Pedophile, Dali Museum Docent Says", St. Petersburg Times, February 18, 2006
See how Donald Lee Rife looks today and back in 1957 in his 50th Reunion Yearbook:

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A myriad of quotes from the press:

Some of the more interesting quotes in the press in the last few weeks:

From the San Francisco Chronicle:

"He was charged with molesting six former patients in his private, soundproof office under the guise of giving them medical exams."

I was trying to recall if the "soundproof office" was brought out in the first trial.

I know they did discuss the fact that ayres was the first person listed in the Peninsula Psychiatric Associates partnership. And that the group hired an architect to design the layout of their building and the offices. But I don't recall if they specifically discussed the isolated waiting area with "airlock" style entry hall, and wood paneled soundproof office area, with "exam" table hidden behind matching wood panel doors, about which ayres said: "inside was a play area, where I could do a physical."

[EDIT 08/13/2009: John Coté originally reported on the "soundproof office" for the Chronicle way back here]

Lots of interesting quotes in the San Mateo County Times:

"Overall, (jurors) thought the case was very strong," McKowan said of her post-trial conversations with members of the panel. "They were as disappointed in the outcome as we were."

Jurors voted 11 to 1 for conviction on six counts and between 10 to 2 and 7 to 5 in favor of a guilty verdict on the other charges, prosecutors said.

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg said Monday that the prosecution is misreading the meaning of the jurors' votes.

Weinberg said he has not yet discussed the new trial with Ayres or whether he will continue to represent the former head of the American Association of Child Psychiatrists.

McKowan said she would try to get proceedings moving as quickly as possible, adding that she will ask the court to set a date in January or February of next year.

Weinberg hasn't discussed a new trial with ayres? Prosecution is misreading the jurors' votes? Hmm.. Good thing I've cinched-up my hip-waders. Weinberg seems to be exuding ca-ca-del-toro from his very pores.

January or February of next year for re-trial? Sounds like they're going to give a little extra time for ayres' new attorney to come up to speed. (Just a postulation.)

And finally, in discussing the possibility of a plea bargain, from San Mateo Daily Journal:

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg, speaking after Judge Beth Freeman declared a mistrial June 27, didnt preclude the possibility but said it would only be for battery because Ayres regrets if his touching during medical exams upset his young patients and would be willing to accept responsibility for having upset them."

Well, I guess I AM pretty upset. (It's dark sarcasm, in case you're not clear.)

Monday, August 10, 2009

It's Official: the DA Will Retry the William Hamilton Ayres Molestation Case

This out in the press on August 10th, 2009:
The DA's office will be going ahead with retrial. (Surprised?)

Lots of news stories out there, but the best two are here:
San Mateo Daily Journal
The Chronicle

On July 27th, 2009, the jury deliberation ended in no decision; a mistrial. The jurors were STRONGLY in favor of conviction on felony molestation charges by the end of deliberation.

There is a hearing scheduled for August 28th, 2009, at which time Judge Freeman will be officially notified by the DA's office about how they wish to proceed.

Ayres' Training At Judge Baker in Boston: Wouldn't Dr. Mel Brown,Ayres' Own Former Medical Partners Be Able To Clear This Up ?

First of all, best wishes to the San Mateo DA's office for their decision to retry the Ayres case.

We're writing this because we really, really hope that next time around the DA's office will look into Ayres' training at Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston from 1959-63. Were child psychiatrists really trained to be literally hands-on with their young patients, as Ayres has been telling everyone in San Mateo County for decades ?

We think not.

Back in the summer of 2006, we spoke a number of times with one of Ayres' former partners named Dr. Hugh Ridlehuber. Ridlehuber recounted to us that back in the 1970s, he had inherited a patient from Ayres- a son of a dentist- who told his father he refused to go back because he was "uncomfortable" by all the physicals Ayres was giving him. Ridlehuber told us he asked Ayres,"Bill, why in hell are you giving a boy a physical?" Ridlehuber told us that Ayres gave a smooth and seamless answer about being taught to give physicals to boys in the therapeutic setting at Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston, where he trained from 1959-63.

Ridlehuber, alas, let it go.

But it sure sounded bogus to us and that's why, in the fall of 2006, we decided to investigate ourselves. We spoke with three doctors who trained with Ayres at Judge Baker: Dr. Stanley Walzer( who would later become head of Judge Baker); Dr. Joseph Mullen; and Dr. Jacqueline Amati-Mehler, who resides in Rome and has a world reputation aas a child psychiatrist.
All three told us in no uncertain terms that they did not give physicals to boys or girls during therapy. "We treated the mind only," Dr. Amati-Mehler told us. Which would make sense, because Judge Baker had its own on-site pediatrics unit.

If the DA decides to look into Ayres' Judge Baker days, we hope that they also talk to Dr. Mel Brown, one of Ayres' former partners at at Peninsula Psychiatric Associates. Dr. Brown who still lives in the San Mateo area, also trained at Judge Baker from 1963-64. We spoke to Brown in the summer of 2006 and we are sure he would be more than willing to help set the record straight for the prosecution. We happen to know he's no fan of Ayres - or his sex education television program.

If the DA hasn't spoken to Brown already, they definitely should. He left Peninsula Psychiatrics Associates at the end of 1987 and was involved with some litigation concerning the retirement trust against the association. We found the case over at the San Mateo court website.

We have heard that Ayres had told so many people on the West Coast so often that he was trained to touch boys during therapy at Judge Baker that he almost believed it himself. He probably referred to his training at Judge Baker -as he did at the trial - as working at "Harvard." (Other doctors who've trained at Judge Baker have said they have never referred to their training there -which is an adjunct - as "working at Harvard.") We hope the DA nails him on that next time around.

We've noticed a bit of an inferiority complex among West Coast folks in terms of East Coast training. We've wondered if Ridlehuber ( who died last year) and the cops and Childrens Services who received complaints about Ayres didn't challenge him because they were intimidated by his "training" back East. (No doubt he threw in the word "Harvard".) Maybe they really thought - as the wife of pediatrician Dr. Sam Leavitt did when she told a mother of an Ayres victim four years ago: " I guess child psychiatrists were trained differently back in the East."

Why, even Dr. Gil Kliman for the defense in this last trial kept emphasizing his East Coast medical training and implied that his work at Columbia University Medical School was somehow fancier and more important than say, any training at Stanford. We don't necessarily think that's true, but we've noticed that West Coast people are still buying into the East-Coast-is-superior kind of thinking.

If East Coast medical training is so vastly superior, why then, did so many pedophile child psychiatrists and pediatricians who have been busted get their start in Boston - as Ayres did?
Text Color
Here's a partial list of doctors (most of them Ivy League graduates)who've had their medical licenses revoked and/or were arrested for pedophilia and who also worked in Boston:

Dr. Edward Daniels
Child psychiatrist. Graduate of Yale. Child psychiatry fellowship at Yale
Staff child psychiatrist at Judge Baker Guidance Center, Boston 1960
License revoked in 1990 for sexually abusing four 27 women.

Dr. Alan Horowitz
Adolescent psychiatrist. Magna cum laude grad of Harvard University
Arrested on multiple counts of sexual abuse of young boys, including sodomy.
Fled US when on bail: captured in India after being featured on America's Most Wanted.
Now serving time in federal prison.

Dr. Walter Presnell
Child psychiatrist. Trained at Harvard in the 1960s. Paid a large settlement to young male patient he molested in Boston throughout the 1970s. License revoked in Connecticut after it was revealed he had given marijuana and alcohol to young male patients and convinced them to engage in various sex acts with them as a way to deal with feelings about their fathers.

Dr. Donald Lee Rife
Child psychiatrist. Graduate of Yale and Harvard Medical School
Trained at Judge Baker Guidance Center 1964-1996.
License revoked for molesting adolescent boys in Vermont, Massachussetts and Florida. Arrested in Florida for molesting a seven year old boy.

Dr. Tobias Friedman
Child psychiatrist. Worked in various Boston hospitals, including Childrens Hospital, a teaching hospital of Harvard from 1956-57 License revoked for trying to hypnotize and have sexual contact with two adolescent girls in the 1960s and early 1970s when he was in practice in Massachussetts.

Dr. Mel Levine:
Pediatrician and best selling author of "A Mind at a Time."
Graduate of Harvard Medical School. Accused of molesting boys when he worked at Boston Childrens Hospital. North Carolina medical license revoked in 2009 because of molestation allegations. Kicked off the foundation he started because of sex abuse allegations. Total number of victims who have come forward: 50

Friday, August 7, 2009

the Wait

On July 27th, 2009, the jury deliberation ended in no decision; a mistrial. The jurors were STRONGLY in favor of conviction on felony molestation charges by the end of deliberation.

There is a hearing scheduled for August 28th, 2009, at which time Judge Freeman will be officially notified by the DA's office about how they wish to proceed.

It Was Seven Years Ago Today...

This just in from Victoria Balfour:

August 7, 2009.

I am writing this from the New York Academy of Medicine Library in New York City, With its wood -panelled walls, chandeliers, Flemish wall hangings, and high arched windows overlooking Central Park, this library looks as if it might have once belonged to one of those 19th century magnates like Andrew Carnegie.

Most people who've been following the case of Dr. William Ayres don't know this, but this hushed and genteel Manhattan -library, thousands of miles from San Mateo, is the birthplace of the current criminal investigation into Dr. William Ayres.

Exactly seven years ago to the day, on August 7, 2002, I had visited this library with the goal of helping out a friend of mine named Steve A. Prior to that visit, all that spring and summer of that year I had been listening to Steve talk about a child psychiatrist named William Ayres who, he sad, had molested him during therapy in the 1970s. It had gotten to the point where I could no longer stand the look of pain in Steve's face when he mentioned Ayres, and so I had volunteered to help find out what had become of his former child psychiatrist.

I had come to the New York Academy of Medicine Library pretty much as a last resort. Visits to two other branches of the New York City Public Library had been unsuccessful - partly because Steve had misspelled Ayres' name as "Ayers" but mostly because I was scared out of my mind to actually find Ayres. I knew that if I were to discover that Ayres was still alive that some sort of futher action would be required. And I just wasn't sure I was up to the responsibility of taking action or getting involved any further. I am sure that it was this fear that was causing me to do a half -baked job of looking for Ayres up to that point.

It had been a reference librarian at the Main Library on 42nd Street who had suggested that I might have better luck finding Ayres at the New York Academy of Medicine Library. I remember really, really not wanting to make the trip. It was a beautiful cloudless day with no humidity, in the 80s, (much like the weather here today).and what I really wanted to do was bag my mission to hunt for Dr Ayres -- for good -- and go for a swim. I still don't know how I forced myself to get on that Madison Avenue bus for the three mile trip up to the library but I do know I berated myself all the way up with thougts like:"What am I doing this for ? Nobody cares about this. This whole mission is dumb."

Seven years ago, when I first walked through the doors of the medical library, I thought I might discover that Ayres was either:

a) dead

b) his license had been suspended

c) he'd retired and moved out of San Mateo

I was in no way prepared for what I did find.

Imagine my shock when I discovered in an ABMS Directory of Board Certified Medical Specialists that Ayres was still practicing at the same address in San Mateo where my friend Steve had seen him as a child. Imagine my horror when the librarian found a speech Ayres had given as President of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Imagine how speechless Steve A was when I told him later that day about what I had found.

Seven years later,I am sitting in the American Academy of Medicine Library with the same ABMS Directory in front of me, open at the page where I first found Ayres' name, and thinking about how far this case has come. I think about the subsequent call I made to the San Mateo Police Department on August 8, 2002 to report the molestation. I think about a telephone call I received five weeks later from a detective in the San Mateo Police Department who told me they had files on two other victims of Ayres who had come forward in the past. I think about the relief on Steve A's face when he finally learned that he was not Ayres' only victim. I think about all of the victims who have come forward in the years since - 42 at last count and I think about the others who still have not. And I think about how everything would have been different had I chosen to go for a swim that day instead of making the trip to this library.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Rumor Everyone's Been Waiting For - Maybe

Well, I have heard a RUMOR: re-trial is a GO.

The press is reporting that NO DECISION has been made yet, based on comments made today by Melissa McKowan.

Our source is a fairly highly placed source.

Aside from that rumor, I was already fairly confident that a decision had been made in this matter yesterday, based some specific uptakes in site metrics, but did not know what the decision was at that point.

I assume at this point that this means that the plan is that at the August 28th hearing, the DA's office will officially tell the court that they will go ahead and schedule a retrial, unless the defense proposes a suitable plea bargain in the mean time.

Again, rumors and assumptions, accompanied by a "no decision yet" quote from McKowan.

I have no more helpful details at this point. No news is... Well, No News.

Friday July 3, 2009: No Court Today, But Will Ayres Take The Stand Next Week?

[NOTE: Original post date for this post was 7/3/2009.]

During this court hiatus, we find ourselves wondering if the good doctor himself might take the stand. It has been reported in the San Mateo Daily Journal and the San Mateo County Times that this might just happen, but frankly we think that if Ayres were to take the stand, he would be a disaster waiting to happen.
Here's why:
Take his ever-changing stories about his practice of giving "physicals" to his boy patients. ( To date not a single girl has come forward to say they were examined by Ayres.)
In Dr. Ayres' civil deposition for Steve Abrams' civil suit in October 2004, Dr. Ayres states, " I don't think I have ever asked a child to take his pants down." He told Steve Abrams' lawyer Bob Tobin that it was so rare for him to physically exam a boy that "years went by" between these supposedly rare physical exams. And of course, he said he only examined boys if it were a case of poison oak or some such nonsense, and that in some cases it was the boy himself who asked him to check him out.
But that's not what Dr. Ayres had been telling his medical colleagues in San Mateo over the years. In the 1970's, his then- medical partner Dr. Hugh Ridlehuber received a telephone call from a dentist whose son had been seeing Dr. Ayres. The dentist informed Dr. Ridlehuber that his son was "refusing to go back to Ayres because he was uncomfortable with all of the physicals Ayres was giving him." He asked that Dr. Ridlehuber treat his son instead.
Startled, Dr. Ridelhuber then confronted Dr. Ayres and asked him why he had been giving the dentist's son a "physical." After all, neither Dr. Ridlehuber nor Dr. Ayres' other partners physically examined kids (isn't that what their board certified pediatricians were for ?) and for the life of him he couldn't figure out why Ayres was making the dentist's son take off his clothes.
Dr. Ayres told Ridlehuber that he was "trained to give physicals to all the kids in the therapeutic session back at Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston." He told Ridlehuber that it was a common practice for child psychiatrists at Judge Baker to do so. Had Ridlehuber thought to make a few phone calls to Judge Baker, he would have learned a very different story. Back in 2006, we actually tracked down three child psychiatrists who trained with Ayres at Judge Baker in the 1960. Not a single one said that they had been trained to touch kids in therapy.
According to Dr. Stanley Walzer, who was at Judge Baker from 1958-60 and then went on to become Judge Baker's director in the 1970s and '80s,told us, "Me, I didn't do physical exams on kids. To suggest that we did this at Judge Baker is crazy!"
Child psychiatrist Dr Joseph Mullen, who also trained with Ayres told us, "We didn't do physical exams in psychiatric sessions with children. That's not part of the psychiatric treatment. No way!"
And internationally renowned child pscyhiatrist Dr. Jacqueline Amati-Mehler, who now lives in Rome and who is the author of many books told us and who trained with Ayres in 1961-63, told us, "In the sessions with children, it was verbal only. If there was a physical problem, the on site pediatrics unit took care of it."
We also tracked down four men who had been patients as children at Judge Baker Guidance Center during the period of 1959-63, when Dr. Ayres worked there. Although we could not find any men who had been patients of Dr. Ayres, all of the men we found had also been under the care of male child psychiatrists. These men told us that their child psychiatrists had never touched them; never given them any kind of physical exam. Their shrinks, they said, treated them with talk therapy. The pediatrics unit treated their physical ailments, if they had any.
We also learned that at Judge Baker, there were overnight dormitories just for the boy patients ( the girls were day patients.) One of the men who had been a patient at Judge Baker told us that his sessions with his child psychiatrist were in his dorm room... Hmm.. that situation sounds like it would have been a prime opportunity for Dr. Ayres to get his jollies off with the boys at Judge Baker.
Additionally, we always wondered why Ayres - who apparently was so proud of his work at Judge Baker that in later years he always referred to it as working at Harvard- ( although this is not technically correct ) hightailed it out of Boston in 1963. When Steve Abrams' lawyer Bob Tobin asked him about his reason for leaving, he never gave a direct answer. We have always wondered if the reason he moved clear across the country was because he got busted at Judge Baker for touching a boy in his room and was asked to leave. It's not at all a far-fetched idea, to our mind. We have found other cases where child psychiatrists who have been busted for child molestation have simply moved to another state - and then resumed molesting kids in the new state.
We talked to a number of psychiatrists who worked at Judge Baker in the 1960s, and they told us that Ayres' old boss, Dr. George Gardner, who was then director of Judge Baker was known for being a heavy drinker and for sweeping all unpleasant problems under the rug. To that end, if Ayres was caught touching a kid back then - then maybe Gardner just swept it under the rug and asked Ayres to leave.
Judge Baker Guidance Center seemed to have been a training ground for a number of child psychiatrists who were later busted for molesting children, like Dr. Tobias Friedman who molested his young girl patients.
See Boston Globe, October 27, 1992 story "Prosecution Mulled in 70's Abuse Claims"

Excerpt: In the wake of decades-old sexual assault charges filed against James Porter in Bristol County, Salem and Peabody police are investigating a former Massachusetts psychiatrist to determine if he can be prosecuted for allegedly molesting at least two young female patients in the 1970s.

The women making the charges against the psychiatrist, Tobias Friedman, hope to take advantage of the same exception to the state statute of limitations that allowed prosecutors to gain indictments of Porter in September for allegedly molesting children while he was a priest in Massachusetts in the 1960s.

Then there's another notorious criminal Judge Baker alum, Dr. Donald Lee Rife, the Yale and Harvard -educated child psychiatrist who arrived at Judge Baker just as Dr. Ayres was leaving. Dr. Rife, who went on to become the president of the Vermont Psychoanalytic Society, was busted for molesting dozens of his young male patients in therapy. He then moved to Florida, and set up practice there, where he continued his child molesting ways. He was arrested in Florida for molesting a seven year old boy ( he had given the boy a toy frog with huge male genitalia... where did he get
that ?) But the boy's mother refused to let her son testify in court, out of fear that he would be emotionally scarred for life. So it was then up to the Florida Medical Board to yank Rife's license, which he fought tooth and nail. There is a series of excellent articles by Carol Gentry from the St. Petersburg Times about the notorious Dr. Rife, and the evergrowing problem of child psychiatrists who molest kids. If any of you readers have acccess to Nexis-Lexis, we suggest you check them out.
Ultimately, Rife's medical license was revoked in Florida, Vermont and Massachusetts - all states where he was caught molesting boys. But that didn't mean Rife had stopped finding a way to be around young boys.
In 2006, a news article in the St. Petersburg Times about the adult docent program at the Salvador Dali Museum, quoted a "Don Rife", a volunteer who talked about how much he loved working with children.
Excerpt from story:

Dali Museum docent Don Rife congratulated his small group, as did the other four volunteer docents who worked with the kids all week. Paige Montgomery, 11, and Dawn Lepo, 9, were also in his group, along with Azneer and Cotton.
"They all did very well," said Rife, who has been a docent at the museum for a decade. "I love their enthusiasm. Since the nature of Dali's work is so fantasy-oriented, they are interested and motivated."
The painter's fantasy style art also includes includes deep sexual dimensions, but Rife said the museum avoids having the young docents deal with that part of his work.
The reporter was unaware that this was the same Dr. Don Rife who had been the subject of a series of articles about his pedophilia in her own paper. However, an alert reader tipped off the paper, and a reporter confronted Rife about his past. He admitted that he was the same Dr. Rife but insisted he had done nothing wrong. He told the reporter that he wasn't gay and that he had "been in a relationship with the same woman for years." Nevertheless, the directors of the Salvador Dali Museum informed Rife that his volunteer services were no longer needed. Please also note that Rife's medical license was revoked in Florida in 1996- the same year he started volunteering with children at the Dali Museum.
Unfortunately, Rife is still teaching the basics of power boat safety at a yacht club to children in Florida. A quick Google search will tell you where he's teaching..
We have wondered what Dr. William Ayres is doing now that his forty -year pipeline to young boys has been cut off. We have heard from our friends in law enforcement that pedophiles can't stop. There are known cases of priests in their 80's who were arrested for molesting kids. By all accounts, pedophiles can't quit cold turkey. So we can't help wondering if the good doctor is finding another avenue to be around boys.
Thoughts, anyone?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Mistrial and Vote Count

On July 27th, 2009, the jury deliberation ended in no decision; a mistrial.
The jurors were STRONGLY in favor of conviction on felony molestation charges by the end of deliberation. Lady Justice has been pressing the honed edge of her sword against ayres' throat, and only the thin cloth of his rumpled suit jacket has prevented that fatal slice.

On 6 counts the vote was 11-1 in favor of conviction.
On 1 count the vote was 10-2 in favor of conviction.
On 2 counts the vote was 7-5 in favor of conviction.

The primary holdout was apparently the young female law student or recent graduate or some nonsense...

UPDATE: Thursday, July 30, 2009: has some pretty great content today.

There are several posts of interest below this post, including detail about the vote split, comments from jurors, as well as the jury foreman, some comments on "recovered memory" as well as many other comments and essays. There is a A pre-written request for re-trial, set up by Patient Advocate, and some words of thanks.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Balfour and the Giant Dipper

Patient Advocate has posted on Victoria Balfour's visit to the bay area: