Thursday, April 5, 2012

A Caller Claiming to be a Parent of an Ayres Victim: A Word of Caution

Yesterday, the day before the fifth anniversary of the arrest of Dr. William Ayres, a mother of an Ayres victim received a phone call from a man claiming to be the father of two victims. The mother  noted that her phone ID said "private caller" when this alleged father of a victim  called.  He asked her if she was the mother of an Ayres victim. She  said yes. The mother, who has a common name and whose phone is not listed in her name, wondered how this man had gotten her number, but forgot to ask him.

The man did not give the mother his phone number or email address. He talked to the mother a bit about his sons and the pediatrician who sent his sons to Ayres and how much he appreciated her voice as the parent of a victim.  But as soon as the mother started to complain to the man about how the Ayres case could have been wrapped up with a conviction decades ago, the man got off the phone in a big  hurry.

For the past five years, this man has called a number of other people who have been involved in the Ayres case. He called me four times in 2007. He called another victim's advocate in 2009, during the Ayres trial. He also called Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian after the Ayres blog posted a New England Cable News Network interview Garabedian did in March 2010 about the Ayres victims. He has most likely called others, too. He always calls from a private number; he refuses to give out his email or phone number.

Now, this man may be a father of a victim. If he  really is who is says he is, then he  has our sympathies.

However, some of us who have been contacted him have been concerned that he may not be who he says he is.

For example, the man has a very distinctive voice -- one I will never forget. The first time he called me, on April 24, 2007, he gave me his surname ,which begins with an "S". "The second time he called, he gave me a different surname, but also beginning with an "S." The third time he called, he gave me the same surname as the second time but with a different first name.  The fourth time he called, in August 2007, he gave me a new first name and surname, but both beginning with"S."

The first time he called he said he was the "friend "of a victim. The second time he called, he said he was the father of one son who had been a victim. On the third and fourth calls, he said he was the father of two sons of victims.

The fourth time he called me, he reached me at my workplace. My employer had just moved to a new building and I had a new work phone number- one that no one in California had.  When I asked the man how he had managed to get my work number, he said, " Oh, I was at  a meeting of Ayres victims in Burlingame the night before. There were 60 parents there. A mother of a victim there had your number and gave it to me."

When I asked for the name of the mother who had given him my phone number, he refused. This was odd; at that time I only knew two parents of Ayres victims and neither of them had my new work number. Furthermore, I knew that neither of them had been at a meeting for parents of victims in Burlingame the night before. If fact, none  of us were aware of any meeting that had taken place at all. And  given that roughly 30 victims had come forward at the time,  it didn't seem plausible that sixty parents could have attended the meeting.   It also struck me as strange that while he said he was calling from his office ( I could hear other phones in the background) when I asked for his work number, he said he couldn't give it to me because he couldn't make any calls from work about the Ayres case. But during this call he was pumping me for information on the case and about the other victims.

Finally, I said, " I've heard your voice before. Each time you call you've given me a different name. I think you're a private investigator working for Ayres' lawyer." That's when the man panicked and got off the phone as fast as he could.

I haven't heard from him since. That was almost five years ago. But this man continues to call others who have knowledge about the case.

It has occurred to DeepSounding and me that perhaps this man could be just a  news junkie about the Ayres case,  who gets a thrill of digging up phone numbers of people with knowledge about the case and talking to them.  As I said up top, he could be the father of a victim or victims. But we're just not sure.

If the man who made those calls is reading this, you know who you are. If you are a legitimate parent of a victim, you can email DeepSounding and tell us about yourself. There's no chance your sons' names - if you do have sons and they were  Ayres victims- will ever be in the paper at this late date. If you are a legitimate parent, when you do call other parents of victims or lawyers or other advocates to talk to them about the Ayres case, it's well past time for you to give them an email address or phone number so that we can verify who you are.

Finally, if you are not the parent of a victim, then please bug off and stop calling parents of victims and others who have been involved in this case.

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