Friday, September 3, 2010

The Judge Baker Doctors' Word Against the San Mateo District Attorney's Office: The Controversy Deepens

"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."

--Statement made on this blog on January  29, 2010  at 7:12 am by Prosecutor Melissa Mckowan from the San Mateo  District Attorney's office.

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Dear Victoria Balfour,
 
I believe there must be some misunderstanding somewhere! I keep travelling all the time, because my profession and institutional offices at the International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA) involve doing this as well.

Perhaps I am being confused with someone else.

I did train at Judge Baker Guidance Center and Children's Hospital, and I know many of the people that you mention in your letter.

I can certainly confirm that our training did not include at all, and at no time, genital exams or even corporeal exams of any sort of our little patients. If needed they would have been referred to the pediatric wards of the Children's Hospital.

- Email from Jacqueline Amati Mehler M. D., September 2, 2010 at 5:20 pm

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Those of you who have been following this blog might recall that San Mateo prosecutor Melissa Mckowan unexpectedly posted a comment under her own name on January 29, 2010 under the thread Yale Debunks Ayres. It's a long comment and I am not going to post all of it here or comment on its entirety. You can read it here. http://williamayreswatch.blogspot.com/2009/12/yale-debunks-ayres-our-child.html

What I do want to focus on here today are the statements the prosecutor made concerning the doctors a "reporter" found - doctors who trained at Judge Baker in Boston - either directly with Ayres or who were trained there at around the same time.

 I am the reporter the prosecutor is referring to. To that end, I wanted to give you a little background on what  is threatening to become a growing controversy over the Boston doctors who trained with Ayres,  and  over who is telling the truth - the doctors themselves or the prosecutor.

Back in June 2006, almost a year before Dr. Ayres was arrested, I cold called a former medical partner of Ayres named Hugh Ridlehuber. In our conversation, Dr. Ridlehuber recounted a story about a boy patient he had inherited from Ayres in the 1970's, a "dentist's son", because, as the boy's father told Ridlehuber, the boy refused to go back because of all the physical exams Ayres had been giving him. Ridlehuber told me that he was concerned about this, as he had not been trained to give physical exams to boys in therapy. He said that when he confronted Ayres on this matter, Ayres told him that he had been trained to give complete physical exams to boys, including the genitalia, at Judge Baker Guidance Center in Boston in the early 1960s.

Ridlehuber said he did not challenge Ayres' statement about his training, but I decided to track down as many doctors who had trained at Judge Baker at the same time as Ayres to determine whether he was telling the truth about being trained to give genital exams to boys in therapy. In the summer of 2006, I spent many hours pouring over dusty old medical directories from 1959-1963, the years Ayres attended Judge Baker, at the New York Academy of Medicine Library.  As medical directories in the old days didn't list any doctors by their specialties, I had to pick out every doctor whose office address matched that of Ayres, on Longwood Avenue in Boston.  I started making calls. By August 2006, I had four doctors who either trained with Ayres directly at Judge Baker or whose stint at Judge Baker overlapped with Ayres.
Their names were: Dr. Stanley Walzer, who later became Director of Judge Baker in the 1970s; Dr. Joseph Mullen; Dr. Dan Ditmore and Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler. Walzer and Mullen lived in Massachusetts. Ditmore lived in Florida. Dr. Amati-Mehler - the only woman I was able to find who trained with Ayres, lived in Rome. All four of the doctors remembered Ayres at Judge Baker. Amati Mehler even recalled correctly, that Ayres was from Columbus, Ohio.

This is the question I posed to all four doctors:
During your training at Judge Baker, were you at any time trained to give physical exams to children as a routine and regular part of therapy - physical exams that would include an examination of the genitalia?

Here are their responses:

- Dr. Stanley Walzer:  Me, I didn't do physical exams on kids. To suggest we did at Judge Baker is crazy!!

- Dr. Joseph Mullen: We didn't do physical exams in psychiatric sessions with children. That's not part of the psychiatric treatment. No way!!

- Dr. Dan Ditmore: I worked at the outpatient psychiatric clinic at Judge Baker. I didn't do physical exams on children and neither did anyone else there. Why would they do that when we had pediatricians on staff and the best pediatricians in the world right across the street at Boston Children's Hospital?

Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler: In the sessions with children, it was verbal only. If there was a physical problem, the on site pediatrics unit took care of it.

I turned over my interviews in November 2006 with the four doctors in person to Captain Mike Callagy of the San Mateo Police Department in San Mateo, California.  Callagy said these interviews would be helpful to the prosecution.

But those of you who attended the first Ayres criminal trial in the summer of 2009 may recall that none of these doctors were called to testify. In fact, the prosecution didn't bring in anyone from Judge Baker to testify about how child psychiatrists were trained there. And to the surprise of many, the prosecution failed to challenge Ayres' lawyer's assertion that physical exams were part of the "therapeutic model" when Ayres was trained in the 1960s. I found this to be puzzling, as in addition to the Judge Baker doctors, I  had interviewed child psychiatrists who were trained at Yale, Harvard, and Johns' Hopkins during the same period that Ayres was, and I couldn't find a single doctor who said they had been trained to give physical exams to boys in therapy. In fact, what they told me was that any child psychiatrist who did ask a child to take off his clothes would be a cause for serious concern.

During the trial, several people who knew that I had found the doctors who had been at Judge Baker during the early 1960s, and who had debunked Ayres' claim about being trained to give physical exams, asked the prosecutor why she had not called the doctors.

Mystifyingly, the prosecutor offered up different reasons to different people. To a mother of an in-statute victim, she said that she had not called the Boston doctors because Ayres had "lied about where he had gone to medical school, and by the time we found this out, it was too late to call the Boston doctors."  This statement had people scratching their head. I know that in my eight year research into Ayres that I have never seen a single instance of him lying about where he went to medical school. Furthermore, Ayres talks quite a bit about his training in Boston in his 2004 civil deposition. And Judge Baker, for that matter isn't even a medical school.
To myself and another victim, the prosecutor stated after her closing argument that she had not called on the Boston doctors because Ayres had not talked about his Boston training on the stand and that he had said he had trained at Yale. Those who attended the trial and those who have a copy of Ayres' testimony will tell you that Ayres did indeed talk about his Boston training at the trial. He even talked about treating a 15 year old boy who had murdered his mother.  Additionally, I had told the prosecutor just minutes before she was to cross examine Ayres for the first time that Ayre had NOT trained in child psychiatry at Yale, and that the only place he had trained in child psychiatry had been at Judge Baker in Boston.

At the time, her conflicting statements confused several of us, and still do to this day.

In August 2009, after the mistrial, and still not understanding why the Boston doctors had not been used at the trial, I called Dr. Joseph Mullen and Dr. Ditmore to ask if they had been contacted by the DA's office. Dr. Ditmore said he had not and Dr. Joseph Mullen could not recall. During my conversations with these doctors, they both confirmed with even more conviction that they had not been trained to give physical exams to children in therapy and didn't know anyone who had.

Then, from August to December 2009, I proceeded to track down and conduct interviews with still more child psychiatrists who had trained with Ayres at Judge Baker during the years 1959-1963. I also did an in person interview with Judge Baker Chief Operating Officer Stephen Schaffer in Boston in August, 2009.  Schaffer told me that in the nearly 100 year history of Judge Baker, that they have never trained or permitted child psychiatrists to give complete physical exams to boys in therapy, and that if they had caught anyone doing this they would have called the police. Furthermore, Schaffer said that if only the San Mateo DA's office had contacted him, he would have set the record straight.

I posted  my interview with Schaffer and the other doctors on this blog in 2009 , and so if you are interested in their full interviews, go back and read them.

I asked the doctors the following question:

During your training at Judge Bake, were you at any time trained to give physical exams to children as a routine and regular part of therapy -- physical exams that would include an examination of the genitalia?

Here is a sampling of some of their responses:

- Dr. Lee Willer: I trained with Ayres. Neither he nor I nor anyone else in our training group was trained to give physical exams to children as part of therapy. In fact, we were advised NOT to do physicals on children.

- Dr. Milton Shore: Never, never, never did you touch a child in therapy! It was very implicit. Period. You didn't do physical exams. If the child at Judge Baker had a physical need to be examined, you got a pediatrician.
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In all, I conducted 19 interviews with psychiatrists and psychologists who either trained with Ayres directly or were trained at Judge Baker at the same time. I couldn't find a single doctor who said that they had been trained to do physical exams or who did physical exams on boys in therapy.

And then, out of the blue, on January 29, 2010, the prosecutor posted a comment on this blog about the original Boston doctors I had found in 2006.  For reasons that aren't clear, she stated that I only found three doctors and then proceeded to get the doctors I found muddled and confused with each other, making Dr. Amati Mehler into two doctors. When I read the prosecutor's statement that the doctors I found would not confirm that they had not been trained to give physical exams to children at Judge Baker, I was surprised and confused - especially as I had just completed my 19 interviews  with the Judge Baker doctors  from the 1960s. They had all been adamant with me that they were not permitted to touch children in therapy. Indeed many of them who knew Ayres and had even been to dinner at his house expressed outrage and disgust that Ayres had been getting away with molesting boys under the guise of bogus medical exams for decades.

What I couldn't figure out was: why were the doctors telling me one thing, and yet the prosecutor said they told her another story? Why had Dr. Joseph Mullen and Dr. Dan Ditmore RECONFIRMED their statements to me after the trial that they had not been trained to do physical exams on boys in therapy? And yet why had the prosecutor stated that they had told her another story? As they couldn't recall being contacted by anyone in the DA's office, I decided to leave it alone for the time being.

But then, when I read a news story this August that the San Mateo District Attorney's office and the prosecutor in the Ayres case were being sued for allegedly lying to a judge in another child abuse case, I decided it was time to fact check the prosecutor's statement on the Ayres blog from January of this year. I already knew that Ditmore and Mullen had reconfirmed their statements to me last summer. As Dr. Walzer now has Alzheimer's, he was out. That left Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler.

I emailed Amati Mehler, who still lives in Rome, this week, to ask if she had been contacted by the DA's office; whether she remembered telling me that she had not been trained to give genital exams to children in therapy; whether she had NOT been able to confirm to the prosecutor that she had not been trained to give physical exams to boys in therapy and whether she had been at any time physically unable to travel. In her response, which I posted  at the top of this post, her first words were "I believe there must be some misunderstanding somewhere!! I keep travelling all the time...."

And on the issue of her training, Amati Mehler wrote, "I can certainly confirm that our training did not include at all, and at no time, genital exams or even corporeal exams of any sort on our little patients. If needed they would have been referred to the pediatric ward of Children's Hospital."

Amati Mehler said that she "cannot remember if anybody or the police contacted me" and said she would check her emails on her home computer in Rome after she returns from travelling (!!!)

The question is: who is telling the truth here? The Judge Baker doctors or the prosecutor?

Why would, for example, the prosecutor say that Amati-Mehler was "physically unable to travel?" Is the prosecutor just misremembering or is there something else at play here?

Why did the prosecutor say that none of the original doctors I found could not confirm to her what they originally told me in 2006- that they were not trained to give physical exams to children in therapy - when in fact three out of the four doctors have since reconfirmed to me with conviction that they were not trained to give physicals to boys in therapy?

Why do the prosecutor and the doctors have different stories?

And why did the prosecutor muddle the doctors and get them confused in her own blog statement?

Does her boss, Steve Wagstaffe who admits in an interview to the San Mateo County Times on December 28, 2009 that he is a micromanager with his prosecutors and pretty much oversees everything they do- know that one of his prosecutors posted a comment under her own name on the Ayres blog and got a lot of her information wrong and made misstatements?

Why did the San Mateo District Attorney's office not investigate Ayres' training either at Judge Baker or at Yale?

Why didn't they think to challenge Ayres' bogus statement that physical exams of children was his "therapeutic model?" -especially as at least two jurors I spoke to from the trial said that several jurors actually believed that Ayres was trained in Boston to give physicals to children and their failure to do so may have very well prevented them from winning the case?

Why has the prosecutor told so many different stories to different people about why she didn't call the Boston doctors to testify?

For those who would like answers to these questions, I would  strongly urge you to contact San Mateo Chief Deputy DA Steve Wagstaffe himself at: swagstaffe@co.sanmateo.ca.us or call: 650-363-4752.


One would hope that the San Mateo DA's office would pursue with the same zeal the confusing and conflicting statements made by a member of their own office as  they would with a defendant they are trying to convict.

9 comments:

  1. Is anyone minding the store over at the San Mateo District Attorney's office? Do other DA's permit their prosecutors to post comments on a public blog on one of their ongoing cases?

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  2. Prosecutors in criminal cases have been accused of withholding exculpatory evidence to the defense, as Mike Nifong did in the Duke rape case. But the prosecutor in the Ayres case may have been excluding inculpatory evidence that may have been favorable to her case.

    Let's say, for example, that she called the Boston doctors who trained with Ayres that the reporter Victoria Balfour found in 2006. Let's say that the doctors reconfirmed to the prosecutor what they told the reporter- that they were not trained to give genital exams to boys in therapy, and did not do it themselves. Let's say then that the prosecutor chose to ignore this and did not include it in the trial.

    After the mistrial, the reporter has gone back to three of the doctors , who reconfirmed that Ayres was not telling the truth about his training.

    Is it possible that the prosecutor didn't want to hear what the Boston doctors were telling her about their training?

    Just a hypothesis, but not out of the realm of possibility.

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  3. I asked lawyer Wendy Murphy- a former visiting scholar at Harvard Law School and legal analyst for places like the Today show, whether she had ever heard of a case where a prosecutor kept out inculpatory evidence that would have been favorable to the prosecution.

    Murphy's response: "I see prosecutors intentionally bag cases all the time by not using inculpatory evidence - there's no redress - nothing you can do - except cause the elected prosecutor not to be re-elected.

    You can also tell the media to write about it and to call the prosecuctor and ask "why aren't you using this evidence"?

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  4. Wendy Murphy has written about prosecutors who are hostile to prosecution witnesses and fail to use inculpatory evidence that would help the prosecution case in her book "Justice For Some"

    She said that prosecutors engaged in misconduct are the focus of lots of groups' energy - but ONLY when the misconduct could help the accused. That's why there is the Innocence Project, to help people who have been wrongfully convicted.

    But Murphy says so far when it comes to prosecutorial misconduct against their own prosecution witnesses, there has been no such mobilization.

    Murphy says," Pro-victim forces are impotent against prosecutors - no matter their misconduct. I've written about this issue and urged people to rise up and mobilize politically around the election of prosecutors who give a damn and have the right ethics, etc - but i've never once seen organization."

    Those who live in San Mateo need to start mobilizing.

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  5. I have reported elsewhere on the following incident:

    Back in April, I found a prominent doctor who trained with Ayres in his first year of residency at Yale. He is only one of six doctors to train with Ayres during that first key year at Yale, where Ayres did his one and only year of pediatrics. This is important because Ayres testified at his trial that a child psychiatrist trained first year interns in pediatrics to give physicals to children. The doctor who was in Ayres' training group says that this is nonsense and that the child psychiatrist, Al Solnit did not teach them to do physicals on kids because
    a)the pediatric staff taught them how to do physicals and
    b)Solnit, who became a friend of his, didn't do physical exams on kids in therapy sessions.

    This doctor who trained with Ayres worked in the JFK White House and went on to become the Director of the National Institute of Mental Healthin Washington DC. He told me Ayres was lying about his training back in April, and said he wanted to help the Ayres victims win the case and to give his name to the prosecution.

    As the prosecutor had stated in her blog comment on this site on January 29, 2010, that she welcomed people to contact her with new witness info for the second trial, a mother of a victim sent the prosecutor the name of the doctor who trained with Ayres at Yale and his personal cell phone number in May.

    The prosecutor never contacted the doctor. As I have reported on another site, when the mother of the victim asked the prosecutor in person at an Ayres hearing in June if she had contacted the doctor who trained with Ayres at Yale.

    "Yes, I contacted him," the prosecutor said. "But he never called me back."

    The doctor has a different version of this story. As of this writing, four months later, the doctor says he has still never been contacted by the prosecutor. We're going with his version on this.

    People would have understood had the prosecutor said, " No, I haven't contacted him because I have been so busy, but I will."

    What NO ONE can understand is how she would say she contacted him and then foist the blame on him? He is certainly upset by this.

    It is up to the prosecutor to research and contact witnesses themselves. Not the other way around.

    Did she make this excuse out of laziness or embarrassment? But why then would she blame the doctor for not calling her back when she never contacted him in the first place? Why the attempt to make the prominent doctor - who could nail the Ayres case for her - look bad?

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  6. Another point: In her blog comment on January 29, 2010 on the William Ayres blog, the prosecutor stated that she had contacted Judge Baker in Boston, where Ayres trained. She wrote," Judge Baker told ME, unlike whoever keeps talking about what their records will show, said there are no records from that time period."

    But that's not what Judge Baker Chief Operating Officer Stephen Schaffer told me in August 2009 in a meeting in Boston. For starters, he said he had never heard from anyone in the San Mateo District Attorney's office. He told me that it was possible that there WERE Ayres' work records, in a place called the Harvard Depository. He also said that case records of all patients whom Ayres treated were at Children's Hospital.

    The COO said he had never heard of the William Ayres case until I asked him about it last summer. He said that he thought he would have remembered if someone from the DA's office had called him about Ayres' records. And even if the prosecutor spoke to someone else about Ayres, he said the word would have come to him that she had called, as Judge Baker is a very small place with not a large staff.

    The COO of Judge Baker also asked me why no one from the San Mateo DA's office had ever called him to ask about how child psychiatrists were trained at Judge Baker. He said he would have told them that child psychiatrists have NEVER been trained to give physical exams to kids in therapy - let alone genital exams to boys in therapy.

    So, who is telling the truth: The Chief Operating Officer of Judge Baker Children's Center, or the San Mateo DA's office?

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  7. The actions of Mckowan and Wagstaffe on the Ayres case are the subject of a very heated discussion over at the Websleuths website.

    Here is a comment from a poster named Belinda:

    "You would think at some point McKowan would start to feel embarrassed as her massive failures have been publicly outed more than once. Yet, she still defends herself and lies whenever convenient. I feel a fraud investigation needs to be done on this case and her handling of it, as well as Steve Wagstaffe's actions or inactions. She doesn't want to win this case and she isn't going to try to win this case. We have a right to know why. I am very interested in her lack of professionalism and her total lack of preparedness for her own case. Further, her own boss seems unable to manage the case or his prosecutor. Either these people are so completely inept that I fail to see how they made it through law school or something stinks. I'm going with something stinks.

    The sad fact of the matter is that the prosecutor has not contacted any of the colleagues that trained with Ayre's and apparently has no intention of doing so. That has been proven extensively and she can lie about it all she wants but she can't get away from the truth. So, is there a way to go around her and get these people into the next trial? This is such a pivotal issue to the case. She has been handed all the information she needs on a silver platter, yet still can't manage to prosecute the case. What exactly is she doing at the office?"

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  8. Another poster on Websleuths named Denny Crane is upset with Wagstaffe and the DA's mishandling of the Ayres case:

    He wrote: "Wow! Thanks again for keeping this thread relevant. I'm a second year law student in Sonoma County and I've composed an email I'm going to send tomorrow. THERE IS NO EXCUSE. They could employ law students as volunteer interns to do some of the work for her. If it weren't so far away I'd offer my services to get her arse in gear! I've gone into law to become a prosector and this offends me in more ways than I can describe. There are law students all over the Bay Area that would love a chance to have some hands on experience.

    Steve is going to have to feel some major pressure before he'll do anything. Is it possible that they are just lazy or don't think they make enough money to be bothered going above and beyond? I'm mystified. "
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    Denny Crane

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  9. I just received another email from Dr. Jacqueline Amati Mehler. She says she is "99 %" sure that neither the police nor the prosecutor ever contacted her.

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