We're still looking for someone who worked at Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston when Ayres was there from 1959-1963, who can vouch that they too, were trained to physically examine children - make that boys - in therapy. But boy, is it ever hard.
We're having no luck at finding anyone who will vouch for Ayres. Just this week we talked to three more shrinks who trained at Judge Baker when Ayres was there, and they all said, emphatically, that Ayres is not telling the truth when he told the good citizens of San Mateo for four decades that Judge Baker taught their therapists to give regular physical exams in therapy.
Psychologist Nicholas Verven said he knew Ayres and Solveig, who was working at the time as a social worker at the Manville School on the Judge Baker campus.
We asked Verven: Did he know of any child psychiatrist or psychologist at Judge Baker when he was there who was trained to give kids "physicals?"
Verven said , "Physical exams of children would not be supported by the training we had. Ayres was certainly not trained to do this at Judge Baker."
After Judge Baker, Verven went on to become the President and CEO of the Mental Health Center in Greater Manchester in New Hampshire from 1965 until his retirement in 1999. Also, Verven told us that for many years he ran a camp for disturbed children called Camp Wetigo. "We were very aware of the dangers of child sexual abuse in places like camps, and we were very vigilant to be on the lookout for this among counselors," he said. Verven also said he hoped that justice would prevail for the Ayres victims and wished them well.
Psychologist Irving Hurwitz also remembered Ayres and Solveig well. "I was a supervisor at the Manville School, where Solveig taught," he said. He also scoffed at Ayres' assertions about his Judge Baker training.
"Any child at Judge Baker who needed anything physically examined was sent to Children's Hospital," he said. "Judge Baker was a bastion of psychoanalytic teaching and it imposed very strict limitations on what could be done in the therapeutic setting. There were very strict rules as to how therapy with children would be done, and physical exams were not done. Any hint that any therapist would be doing physicals would raise serious concerns."
After we spoke with Dr. Hurwitz, he sent us an email saying, "I hope your efforts to see justice done in this case are successful."
Thanks, Dr. Hurwitz! We'll do our best.
Psychologist Roger Bibace worked at Judge Baker from 1961-1974, but did not know Ayres. However, he also agreed 100 % with Verven and Hurwitz ."Nobody was trained to give physical exams at Judge Baker, " he said. "This is revolting! This sounds just like that Mel Levine case!"
Additionally, child psychiatrist Dr. William Beardslee, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Children's Hospital, and a Department Chair at Judge Baker for the Family Prevention Intervention Program tells us he knows of no child psychiatrist either at Judge Baker or anywhere else who was ever trained to give physical exams to kids in therapy.
Beardslee, by the way, who is a preeminent researcher in the field of maternal depression and its effect on children, won the 1999 The Irving Philips Award For Prevention from The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Readers here know that's the same organization where Ayres was once President.
Dr. Larry Strasburger, a former professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and former President of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, was not himself trained at Judge Baker but wrote us in an email "I certainly applaud your efforts." Indeed, that's been the sentiment of just about every psychiatrist we've talked to about our hunt for the truth in the Ayres case.
We're beginning to think that the only shrinks left in Ayres' court are Etta Bryant, Dick Shadoan and those other fools who permitted their names to be on that Ayres fundraising letter. We don't believe there are any East Coast shrinks on that list ! Just sayin'..
UPDATE: Sept.3/2010 We're pleased to announce one new name to our list of Judge Baker employees and Ayres refutees: Dr. Pauline Hahn, who worked as a psychologist and research director at Judge Baker for a total of 54 years. Hahn, who started working at Judge Baker in the 1940's, said she vaguely recalled "Bill Ayres." When we asked her whether at any time when she was there any child psychiatrist or child psychologist had been trained to give "phyicals" to children in therapy, the very decisive Dr. Hahn shouted: "NEVER!"
To date the people from Judge Baker who have refuted Ayres are: Dr. Stanley Walzer; 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.
We wanted to point out an interesting factoid. We've noted that about 98 % of the people we've researched who were at Judge Baker with Ayres all stayed in Massachusetts or in a neighboring New England state. As Dr. Gil Kliman pointed out in the trial, to work as a child psychiatrist in East Coast was very prestigious. And the Judge Baker/Harvard/Cambridge circut was the place to be for ambitious child psychiatrists for decades. Several psychiatrists told us that Judge Baker was the top place for child psychiatrists at one time in point in this country. Ayres was by all accounts certainly ambitious, so why didn't he stick around? Why did he uproot?
Was it because somehow he intuited that those folks in California might be a little awestruck by his East Coast training, and since they knew nothing about how Judge Baker really trained their shrinks, they could be more easily duped into thinking that well. maybe he really was trained it was Ok to "examine" boys in therapy... What we're thinking that maybe since he knew he couldn't pull a fast one on those East Coast folks- and certainly not in the Boston area- he uprooted to California, where things were a little looser and some people were a little intimidated by words like "Yale" and "Harvard."