"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.
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
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.
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: email@example.com 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.