Accused child molester William Ayres wins 30 days of freedom 

click to enlarge Disgraced doctor: Noted child psychiatrist William Ayres, left, avoided jail time because he has dementia. He will be sent to Napa State Hospital instead of prison. (AP file photo) - DISGRACED DOCTOR: NOTED CHILD PSYCHIATRIST WILLIAM AYRES, LEFT, AVOIDED JAIL TIME BECAUSE HE HAS DEMENTIA. HE WILL BE SENT TO NAPA STATE HOSPITAL INSTEAD OF PRISON. (AP FILE PHOTO)
  • Disgraced doctor: Noted child psychiatrist William Ayres, left, avoided jail time because he has dementia. He will be sent to Napa State Hospital instead of prison. (AP file photo)
  • Disgraced doctor: Noted child psychiatrist William Ayres, left, avoided jail time because he has dementia. He will be sent to Napa State Hospital instead of prison. (AP file photo)

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 given another 30 days of freedom before he has to report to Napa State Hospital, according to prosecutors.

San Mateo County prosecutors wanted Ayres to be remanded into custody immediately.

But Judge John Grandsaert granted the defense attorney’s request to give Ayres up to a month to surrender to the hospital. Prosecutors said the judge ruled that Ayres, who’s been out of custody, needed the time to prepare, given his worsening mental condition.

The ruling further frustrated victims and their families, who believe Ayres is competent.

“He needs to be retried,” said Victoria Balfour, the advocate for the families.

If Ayres is ever restored to competency, prosecutors vow to retry him on the molestation charges. It is unlikely his mental condition will improve, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Thursday.

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 and resulted in two mistrials, his mental health declined. Last month, prosecutors reluctantly conceded Ayres wasn’t mentally fit to stand trial and recommended he be committed to a state mental hospital.

The families of victims say they have proof that Ayres is competent. They recently 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 said, 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.

Many of Ayres’ victims have suffered from depression, alcoholism and drug addiction, Balfour said. 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 complications relating to alcoholism, she said. Others have ended up in state prison, while others have filed civil suits against Ayres, she said.

maldax@sfexaminer.com

 

Delayed justice

The molestation case against former child psychiatrist has dragged on for four years.

- April 2007: William Ayres arrested after a four-year investigation into allegations he molested dozens of boy patients dating back to the late 1960s. He later posted $750,000 bail.

- 2008: His trial is delayed partly so his attorney at the time, Doron Weinberg, can handle the Phil Spector murder trial in Los Angeles.

- July 2009: Mistrial declared on all counts, with the jury split 11-1 in favor of guilty on four of the counts. On the other five counts, the votes ranged from 10-2 to 7-5 in favor of guilty.

- August 2009: San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office announces it will retry the case.

- March 2010: Ayres’ new attorney Jonathan McDougall questions competency of Ayres, saying he shows signs of dementia. Court orders two doctors to examine him.

- June 2011: Mistrial declared in the competency trial, with the majority of jurors in favor of incompetence.

- August 2011: Prosecutors concede that Ayres is incompetent to stand trial and recommend he be committed to a state mental hospital.

- September 2011: Ayres is ordered to be placed at Napa State Hospital. He must report to the state mental hospital within 30 days.

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