Daily Journal
DA wants Ayres back in jail
By Michelle Durand
August 1, 2013

Psychiatrist William  Ayres

Psychiatrist William Ayres

Prosecutors want William Hamilton Ayres, the once-prominent child psychiatrist convicted of molesting five former male patients under the guise of medical exams, back in custody while a report is completed on his likelihood to reoffend.

Ayres, 81, was scheduled for sentencing Aug. 6 but attorneys and the judge on Aug. 7 will now pick a new date — tentatively expected to be Aug. 26 — and wrestle with a request by prosecutor Melissa McKowan to remand Ayres.

Ayres is currently free from custody on $900,000 bail, much as he has been for the majority of the six years his case has been in and out of court since charges were filed in April 2007.

“He has successfully delayed facing incarceration for his heinous acts against children and it is time that his avoidance of punishment comes to an end,” said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

The state requires a doctor evaluation of defendants convicted of some sex crimes, including child molestation. The report on Ayres was delayed because multiple doctors approached to perform the evaluation claimed a conflict due to connections to Ayres. A doctor was finally found in July but asked for two more weeks to finish his report on Ayres’ future danger.

Wagstaffe said his office has a better chance this time of getting Ayres back into jail because if that doctor didn’t need more time to complete his report, the former psychiatrist — who is now convicted rather than given the presumption of innocence — would be starting to serve his sentence Tuesday.

“Well, he can get started now,” Wagstaffe said.

Defense attorney Jonathan McDougall did not return a call for comment.

Ayres pleaded no contest in May to eight counts of child molestation without benefit of any sentencing promises. He faces up to 22 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration although Judge Beth Freeman indicated a likely eight-year term. Ayres’ abrupt plea change came a day after jury selection began in his criminal retrial and after an appellate court stymied defense efforts to again find him mentally incompetent. He had spent a stretch in Napa State Hospital after his first trial ended in a mistrial but was sent back to San Mateo County after doctors there discovered he was faking or exaggerating his Alzheimer’s-related dementia to avoid another prosecution.

Ayres is accused of molesting dozens of patients but many fell outside of the statute of limitations, leaving prosecutors originally filing charges stemming from six patients between 1988 and 1996 when they were ages 9 to 13. Ayres escaped conviction in his original 2009 trial when the jury hung 11-1 on nine felonies.

At the time Ayres took the plea deal, his was the District Attorney’s Office longest-running case and he spent most of it out of custody. After his arrest on a $1.5 million warrant, a judge dropped Ayres’ bail to $250,000 which he posted. Once new charges were added, bail jumped to $1.8 million but was then against dropped to $750,000. He remained free through his first trial up until he entered Napa State Hospital. After his return, he was again freed on $900,000 bail.

Prior to his 2007 arrest, Ayres was well-known as president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and for hosting the sex education series “Time of Your Life.” Ayres received juvenile court referrals up through 2004, two years after police began looking at him in 2002 in response to a former patient’s claim of molestation during the 1970s when he was 13. After a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the statute of limitations nixed criminal prosecution, the victim and Ayres reached a confidential settlement in July 2005. In a deposition for the lawsuit, Ayres reportedly admitted conducting physical exams of patients as part of his care.

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