Ex-child psychiatrist with dementia faces sexual abuse charges 

Former prominent child psychiatrist William Ayres has been held in a Napa State Hospital on a no-bail status being treated for dementia. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Former prominent child psychiatrist William Ayres has been held in a Napa State Hospital on a no-bail status being treated for dementia.

Former prominent child psychiatrist William Ayres — to the shock of many — was found competent to be retried on charges that he molested patients, according to a report released Wednesday.

Last year, prosecutors suspected that the 80-year-old’s failing mind would only get worse, making it so that he would never again face charges for accusations that date back to the 1990s.

But a progress report from doctors at Napa State Hospital stated otherwise.

“We were always hoping the doctors would restore him to competency,” San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said. “The surprise is the rapidity of it.”

Ayres, a past president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, has spent the past nine months at Napa State Hospital with a diagnosis of dementia.

Previously, he had faced life in prison after being charged with nine counts of performing lewd acts on seven boys during counseling sessions between 1991 and 1996. He also was accused of molesting more than 30 other people on dates that are beyond the statute of limitations.

Prosecutors nearly secured their desired verdict at a 2009 trial, when 11 of the 12 jurors were in favor of conviction on four of the nine counts. Afterward, the retrial process dragged on and attorneys on both sides agreed Ayres’ dementia was worsening.

But don’t expect a speedy retrial.

Ayres, who remains at the Napa hospital on no-bail status, is scheduled to appear in court Aug. 3. At that time, Morley said, Ayres’ attorney could challenge the progress report, leading to a trial based just on his competency.
If the report remains unchallenged, criminal proceedings could resume, Morley said.

Victims and their supporters were not necessarily pleased that Ayres was found competent, as they say they believe Ayres was faking crazy all along.

Families of victims hired a private investigator in August to tail Ayres. The investigator took video of Ayres chatting with pals at a San Francisco restaurant. The families said the video proves Ayres is competent, and they lambasted the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office for allegedly ignoring that evidence.

“The [Jerry] Sandusky trial was done in nine months,” said Victoria Balfour, who represents the group. “This is nonsense.”

The group is trying to get the DA thrown off the case, Balfour added.


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