For outraged families seeking justice against William Ayres, it was hard enough to learn the prominent San Mateo child psychiatrist accused of molesting patients would be sentenced to a state mental hospital rather than prison.
On Wednesday, they were dealt another blow. Ayres, 79, who doctors say suffers dementia, was told he will get another 30 days of freedom before he has to report to Napa State Hospital, according to prosecutors.
San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said he wanted Ayres to be remanded into custody Wednesday. But the judge granted the defense attorney’s request to give Ayres up to a month to surrender to the hospital. Ayres needed the time to prepare given his worsening mental condition, the judge ruled.
If Ayres is ever restored to competency, which prosecutors say is unlikely, he will be retried on the molestation charges, Wagstaffe said.
Ayres faced life in prison after being charged four years ago with nine counts of performing lewd acts on seven boys during counseling sessions between 1991 and 1996.
The former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry was also accused of molesting more than 30 other victims on dates that are beyond the statute of limitations.
But as the legal proceedings against him dragged on for four years and two trials, his mental health declined, prosecutors said. Last month, a judge ruled him incompetent to stand trial after court-appointed doctors declared he suffers from dementia.
That ruling outraged victims and their families, who say they have proof that Ayres is competent.
Victoria Balfour, the advocate for the families, said multiple doctors told the families Ayres is competent. They hired a private investigator to tail Ayres. Last month, only days before his competency hearing, investigators secretly filmed Ayres “hanging out in restaurants all over San Francisco,” Balfour said.
He appeared competent in the video, Balfour claimed, adding that he chatted with his wife and two doctors about the Iowa Straw Poll and future of the Republican Party.
He was also discussing past business ventures, and his future court date, Balfour said.
The families vow to seek justice against Ayres. They have petitioned California’s attorney general and governor for a change of venue in the case.
“This is not the last chapter,” Balfour said.
Balfour said many of Ayres' victims have suffered from depression, alcoholism and drug addiction. On Aug. 7, a 48-year-old victim committed suicide by running into oncoming traffic in Southern California, she said. In February, a 44-year-old victim died of alcoholism, she said. Others have ended up in state prison, while others have filed civil suits against Ayres, she said.
"He needs to be retried," Balfour said. "What the parents want now is a change of venue."