Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Yale Debunks Ayres: "Our Child Psychiatrists Have Never Trained Pediatric Interns To Do Physical Exams"

We were perusing the court transcript of Dr. Ayres' testimony from the first criminal trial recently when a name caught our eye on page 30: "Al Songden." That's the child psychiatrist at Yale whom Ayres said told him "not to wear rubber gloves" when Ayres, as a pediatric intern, was conducting physical exams. Here are Ayres' exact quotes about Songden:

"But along came Al Songden, who was a child psychiatrist, a very young child psychiatrist at Yale at that time... So what happened is, he trained us. And the training I thought, was particularly useful, and I was very interested. And he said that children are scared, and don't put rubber gloves on because they're going to think that you think they're dirty, and they're going to find that strange."

That got us thinking..... would a child psychiatrist really be advising an intern in pediatrics- a completely different specialty-- on the ins and outs of a physical exam and particularly on something as specific as the wearing of rubber gloves? And wouldn't Yale's own pediatric faculty be teaching Ayres - in his one and only year of pediatrics training- on how to conduct a physical exam?

So we decided to hunt down this "Al Songden" ourselves and get it straight from the horse's mouth. But it turns out there is no "Al Songden," according to a number of old time staffers at Yale. The child psychiatrist Ayres was actually referring to was Dr. Albert Solnit, a pioneering psychiatrist at Yale's Child Study Center. Dr. Solnit died in a car crash in 2002. Still, there are a number of people around at Yale who knew Solnit well and worked with him.

First we got the scoop on Dr. Solnit from the pediatrics side at Yale. We spoke with pediatrician Dr. Howard Pearson, a 1954 graduate of Harvard Medical School who has been on the staff of pediatrics at Yale since the 1960s. Pearson knew Dr. Solnit and his work very well.

We asked Dr. Pearson if Solnit or any other child psychiatrist in the history of Yale had trained pediatric interns on how to do physical exams

Pearson shot that one down immediately and unequivocally. "Nonsense," he said. "Child psychiatrists like Solnit, who were from the Child Study Program at Yale have had historically a very minor role with pediatrics. Pediatric residents might hear a couple of lectures by a child psychiatrist, or once in a great while a psychiatrist may be called in for a consultation, but that's it. Solnit would certainly not have been brought in to teach pediatric interns about physical exams, because at Yale, child psychiatrists don't do physical exams. It's just nonsense!!"

Ok, so having cleared that up from the pediatrics side, we moved on to the child psychiatrist's point of view at Yale. For that we sought out child psychiatrist Dr. John Showalter, who was the first Albert J. Solnit Professor at the Yale Child Study Center. Showalter told us that he was very close with Solnit. "He was like a father to me," he said.

Although Showalter is a child psychiatrist, like Ayres, he did his first year of residency as a pediatric intern at Yale. We asked him if Solnit had either trained him or talked to him about doing physical exams when he was in pediatrics.

"Solnit never talked to me about rubber gloves or physical exams, ever," recalled Showalter. "He told us how to talk to children when they were anxious or depressed and how to talk to the families. The pediatric training was left up to the pediatric faculty. During the years I knew Solnit as a child psychiatrist, he never talked to me about giving physical exams to kids. Solnit was a famous child analyst, and he never did physicals on children in therapy."

Ok then. So now we know: Ayres was making this all up about Dr. Solnit. What's also very important, to note is that both Dr. Solnit and Ayres' old boss George Gardner at Judge Baker, were first trained as pediatricians and then as child psychiatrists.

These doctors had years of training in pediatrics, while Ayres had only one measly year of pediatrics before moving on to adult psychiatry.
But for decades Ayres has been using that one measly year of pediatrics as an excuse to give his own special brand of hands on therapy to boys.

But wait!! Drs. Gardner and Solnit - who were trained as both child psychiatrists AND pediatricians- with years' more experience than Ayres- never physically examined children in therapy. They knew how dangerous and damaging that would be to a child in therapy. They understood that the specialties of child psychiatry and pediatrics are SEPARATE specialties, and needed to be kept that way. They respected the boundaries between the two specialties and didn't- as Ayres did- get them all tangled and snarled up in their heads.

But then, as we have seen with Ayres and his victims, Ayres has never respected the boundaries between anyone or anything.

As Ayres can no longer blame either Judge Baker or Yale for his pedophilia, we wonder what excuse he's gonna come up with next. Whatever it is, we'll be there, ready to fact check it to kingdom come!


  1. Trapellar your stories are getting better all the time! I think you have left no stone unturned in this case.

  2. When Trapellar digs, Trapellar picks up a garden spade, and laughs heartily as it's tossed aside.

    Out come a pair of tunnel boring machines: fifty feet in diameter each, with hundreds of percussion drills, and the hydraulic jacks and slurry pipelines pushed to the max...

    Hmmm... seem to be some holes in ayres' story. Wonder who did that?

  3. It looks like the transcripts prove Perjury has been committed. Or I should say Trapellar's investigation and interviews prove Perjury.

    The challenge we have in San Mateo County is we have the top 2 DA's who don't enforce/charge Perjury. In fact I have reported in the past a quote from Steve Wagstaffe. " Fraud and Perjury are prevalent in our Courts and the Judges don't seem to care." I informed Steve it was his job to bring Fraud and Perjury charges to the court not the Judges job.

    The Board of Supervisors have a duty to the citizens to assure us that the DA'S officers faithfully perform their duties. GC25303


    Michael G. Stogner

  4. Does anyone know whether the California DA's office is checking to see if any boys complained about Ayres at Boston Children's Hospital, where he also worked from 1959-1963? What about the records from Boston's Reception Center for Boys at the Massachusetts Youth Services Division?

    You can bet your bottom dollar the Boston reporters are looking into this.

  5. PS. The Boston newspapers have teams of lawyers fighting for them, and that's how they got access to all of those church records on the pedophile priests. Perhaps they might use that same legal muscle to check into Ayres' history in Boston.

  6. Good work, Trapellar!

  7. Isn't it a shame that you have to do all the invetigating in this case. You should be a prosecutor

  8. Finally, someone has found something that MIGHT actually be admissible. Although all the statements about what Solnit would and wouldn't have done are completely hearsay and likely to be inadmissible, doctors from the same time period who had the same education course and specialties MIGHT be able to talk about what they did. The info about Garner (Ayres old boss), again, is not "attributed" to anyone. You indicate that he "says" he never did/was trained to/does exams, but how do you know this? Did he personally say it? Is he still alive? Can he be called as a witness? Or is this just another "assumption" you're making based on something "someone" said. I have spoken with the "famous Boston Reporter" and while he's working on some things (which he will pass along to me) he has yet to actually find any witnesses who can testify to any of this hearsay stuff either. Unfortunately, I can not use hearsay statements. Judge Baker told ME, unlike whoever keeps talking about what their records will show, said there are no records from that time period. The reporter is trying to help to see if that's true. I know it is fashionable on the blogs to discuss your findings and then blame the DA for not discovering these things ourselves. But take my word for it, any "credible" tip that has come in has been looked into. So far, until this particular unattributed blog entry, I have never seen any "independent investigation" that has led to the discovery of an actual witness. For instance, the three (not four) Judge Baker Graduates who would allegedly have debunked Ayres' statements about being trained there--did NOT confirm to the police or the DA what it was alleged in the blogs that they would say. One told me that she had told the reporter who talked to her that she didn't know anything about Ayres and was in school later than him and that although she could say SHE was never trained to give exams, she "couldn't say for sure what his training was." That is NOT helpful. Another one refused to testify and the last one is physically unable to travel and lives in Europe. The blogs through around a lot of claims but trust me, if you have an actual tip (like what I might be seeing here in this particular entry) and you think it might lead to a witness or admissible evidence, please call me and I will be happy to talk to you about why the "evidence" either is or isn't admissible. I have let everyone know that if you come up with anything, I will certainly follow up on it. Many People have chosen to write only on these blogs which, I must say, I NEVER read becuase of the false and hurtful comments that are frequently directed at me, my office and my investigator. the only reason I read this entry today is because one of the victim's mothers sent it to me indcating it finally looked like it might have some good info. She was right. Thank you Barbara. Whoever "Trapellar" is, if you want to call me and discuss your "findings", I would be happy to talk to you. Thrilled in fact. The only thing I know for sure is that I am deeply committed to convicting Dr. Ayres for what he did to the boys/men I came to know and adore during the trial. I am also a very competitive person who HATES to lose!! That said, I invite anyone with information that they think will be useful to call me directly at the DA's office (650-363-4774) and talk to me about it. I wish you all well and I hope that I am successful in our mutual goal of convicting a horrible child molester. Thank you. Melissa McKowan, SMC DA's Office

  9. Children's Hospital(not Judge Baker) currently holds all of the old Judge Baker case studies from the time Ayres was there. A child care worker at Judge Baker in the 1960s informs us that if there is any information about Ayres molesting a child, it would be in the case study notes, as every little thing at Judge Baker was documented. The child care workers, the social workers, the psychologists and child psychiatrists all kept copious notes on each child. Let's say a boy told his child care worker that Ayres had touched him. That would be in the case notes.

    The contact person at Children's Hospital is Linda Lebel:

  10. This is Victoria Balfour writing. I am the "reporter" prosecutor Melissa Mckowan refers to her in her post here in January. There are some statements here that she made that need to be addressed.

    Mckowan says "For instance the three (not four) Judge Baker Graduates who would allegedly have debunked Ayres' statements about being trained there--did NOT confirm to the police or the DA what it was alleged in the blogs that they would say. One told me that she had told the reporter who talked to her that she didn't know anything about Ayres and was in school later than him and that although she could say SHE was never trained to give exams, she "couldn't say for sure what his training was." That is NOT helpful. Another one refused to testify and the last one is physically unable to travel and lives in Europe."

    I am reporter who dug up the names of the four people (not three)who trained with Ayres ( a year before Ayres was arrested) and turned over the information on them to the San Mateo Police and San Mateo District Attorney's office. The names of the doctors I found (with great difficulty, by spending hours with dusty medical directories from the 1950s and 1960s in a library, and them making cold calls) and spoke to were: Dr. Dan Ditmore; Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler: Dr. Stanley Walzer and Dr. Joseph Mullen. I turned over interviews with these doctors in person in a meeting with Captain Mike Callagy in San Mateo, California in November 2006. Captain Callagy, after reviewing them said "this would come in very handy if it ever comes to trial."

    The only female doctor I spoke with was Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler - who did indeed remember Ayres - well - and said that he was in her training class for the years between 1961 and 1963. Indeed Dr. Amati Mehler remembered Ayres so well that she correctly remembered that he was from Columbus, Ohio. Dr. Amati Mehler told me that all of the trainees in Boston in her and Ayres' class were trained to treat " the mind only." I have this in writing,in an email from Dr. Amati Mehler.
    Mckowan then talks about another doctor who lived in Europe and couldn't travel. Ms. Mckowan is confused here. Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler lives in Rome and is the same doctor who remembered Ayres well. Amati Mehler is the only doctor I spoke with who lives in Europe. All four doctors - Dr. Walzer, Dr. Mullen, Dr. Amati Mehler and Dr. Dan Ditmore adamantly said that they were never trained to give physicals to children at Judge Baker in Boston, where Ayres was trained. Dr. Walzer went so far as to say it was "crazy to suggest that any doctor would be trained to touch boys in therapy." Dr. Mullen was just as adamant. Dr. Ditmore said he worked in the outpatient clinic at Judge Baker when Ayres was there - whom he remembered as "uncomfortably outgoing - there was something off about it" and that he never did physicals on boys in therapy.

    To have the prosecutor misrepresent what Ayres' training colleagues said about Ayres is disconcerting and distressing. Also, perhaps the DA's office might want to try looking for Ayres' colleagues from the 1950s and 1960s themselves. It is not as easy as it looks. They should consider themselves fortunate that someone took the time to undertake such an arduous task.

  11. One final point:Ms Mckowan says that the doctor in Europe - who is Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler - was"physically unable to travel."

    When I was in touch with Mehler in 2006, she said that she had just flown from Rome to New York to attend an international psychoanalytic conference.

    And in 2007, just two months before Ayres was arrested, Amati Mehler travelled from Rome to Lisbon to attend a conference on incest and pedophilia.

  12. Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler- the doctor prosecutor Melissa Mckowan says on the Ayres blog was "physically unable to travel" attended a meeting in Chicago ON JULY 31, 2009. This was A WEEK after the first Ayres criminal trial ended.

  13. The link to the document for the meeting that Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler attended is here:

    The acrobat version is HERE in case the web link goes away.

  14. Thanks, Deep Sounding,for posting the link.

  15. In her comment on January 29, 2010 on the William Ayres blog, the prosecutor also said:

    The info about Garner (Ayres old boss), again, is not "attributed" to anyone. You indicate that he "says" he never did/was trained to/does exams, but how do you know this? Did he personally say it? Is he still alive? Can he be called as a witness?

    To the San Mateo District Attorney's office: Google is your friend. Gardner has been dead for several decades. In fact, there's an article about Judge Baker from Time Magazine in 1953 that states he was 49 which would make him about 106 if he were still alive.,00.html
    "Tying the combined operation together will be Dr. George E. Gardner, 49, mild-mannered pediatrician-psychiatrist who has been director of the Judge Baker Center for twelve years. Dr. Gardner will now don two extra hats, as Harvard's first clinical professor of psychiatry and psychiatrist in chief at the Children's Hospital."

    To answer the prosecutor's question, all of the information I gathered on Gardner was compiled from interviews with the twenty child psychiatrists and psychologists I talked to who trained with him closely. I know he did not do physicals on children because I took the trouble and time to seek out many people who worked with him. Additionally, Dr. Pauline Hahn, who worked at Judge Baker for more than fifty years, was Gardner's longtime protege and co-wrote many papers with him. I also read extensively about Gardner's work at Judge Baker in books at the Countway Library at Harvard Medical School, as well as published case studies of children by Gardner.

    George Gardner did not do physical exams on children in therapy and he did not train his child psychiatrists to do physical exams on children in therapy.

  16. Dr. Amati Mehler also travelled from Rome to Lisbon in January 2007, for a conference on incest and pedophila just a few months before Ayres was arrested.

  17. When I interviewed Judge Baker Chief Operating Stephen Schaffer in August, 2009, after the mistrial, he told me that no one from the DA's office had ever called him.

    He had never heard of the Ayres case. He asked why no one from the DA's office had called to ask whether child psychiatrists were trained to give physical exams to children. He said he would have told them right away that Judge Baker does not, and never has permitted doctors to give any physical exams to children - let alone GENITAL exams.

    So, who's telling the truth- the COO of Judge Baker or the San Mateo DA's office?