Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dr. Joan Zilbach, a Judge Baker Child Psychiatrist Who Worked With Ayres: Anyone Caught Doing a Physical Would Be in Big Trouble

Today we spoke briefly with child psychiatrist Dr. Joan "Jackie" Zilbach, who worked with William H Ayres at Judge Baker Guidance Center in 1963, where they were both assistant psychiatrists.

After Judge Baker, Dr. Zilbach, who according to her daughter Susana was one of only four women in her medical school class, went on to have a long and impressive career. Her research and articles on juvenile delinquents appeared in many medical books and journals, including the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Dr. Zilbach's health is not good, but after being briefed by her daughter Susana about the purpose of our call, Dr. Zilbach said that she would talk to us. Dr. Zilbach said she did remember Ayres. We then asked her a series of questions about the history of her psychiatric training.

This is what we learned from Dr. Zilbach:

- Neither she nor Ayres nor anyone else in their group was trained to give "physicals" at Judge Baker.

- No child psychiatrist was permitted to do physicals on children in therapy at Judge Baker

- She has never given a physical exam to a child in therapy during her nearly fifty years as a psychiatrist.

- She has never heard of any child psychiatrist anywhere giving physical exams to a child in therapy.

-That it's never acceptable to touch a child during therapy

Finally, we asked Dr. Zilbach a hypothetical question: If any child psychiatrist when she was there at Judge Baker was caught giving a "physical exam" to a child in therapy, would they have gotten into trouble?

Dr. Zilbach 's answer to this question was a resounding and very emphatic, "YES!"

Dr. Irving Hurwitz, a Judge Baker psychologist who also spoke with us, remembers Dr. Zilbach at Judge Baker as "a no nonsense supervising psychiatrist who would have clear knowledge of what the rules and permitted and non permitted practises were in the training of psychiatry residents."

We wish Dr. Zilbach - who became a widow last year - all the very best. And many thanks to Dr. Zilbach's daughter Susana for putting us in touch with her.

Here's an updated list of all the Judge Baker folks who have refuted Ayres so far:

Dr. Stanley Walzer; Dr. Joan Zilbach; Dr. Jacqueline Amati-Mehler; Dr. Dan Ditmore; Dr. Joseph Mullen; Dr. Lee Willer; Dr. Gordon Harper; Dr. Irving Hurwitz; Dr. Nicholas Verven and Dr. Roger Bibace; Dr. Pauline Hahn; Judge Baker Department Chair Dr. William Beardslee and Judge Baker Chief Operating Officer Stephen Schaffer.


  1. Dr. Zilbach sounds like an interesting woman. It's nice that she spoke to you guys.

    It must drive Ayres nuts to know that his old colleagues from Judge Baker aren't siding with him.

  2. If the San Mateo DA's office doesn't want to fly the Judge Baker gang out, they can always call on Dr. Wilbur "Mel" Brown, Ayres' former partner, to testify.

    He trained at Judge Baker and you know he's not going to testify that he was trained to do physicals.

  3. This is just getting unbelieveable.

    Excellent work in locating these doctors and they sound like caring people to come forward and state that they were not trained to do physical exams, let alone genital exams.

    I think the next letter to Jim Fox should include all the names of these potential witnesses!

  4. This is really mind-blowing information, Trapellar.
    Your persistence and resourcefulness are impressive, to say the least.

    If this case does, finally, go the right way, it will be in large part because of your commitment and your creative approach to researching the critical facts.