Monday, July 17, 2006

Survivors of Dr. William Ayres - Child Psychiatrist Looking for Other Survivors

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The following note was posted to The Awareness Center's Daily Newsletter

Dr.William Ayres, a child psychiatrist in San Mateo, California is currently the subject of a criminal investigation because of allegations the he molested his young male patients.

A group of Ayres' survivors in California would like to hear from and connect with others who had similar experiences. We are particularly interested in anyone who was a patient from 1988 to 2005, which is within statute for a criminal prosecution. We do want to hear from any victim from any time period. We know of at least two survivors who are Jewish.

Dr. Ayres practiced in San Mateo from 1963 to December 2005.
He also treated children in Boston at the Judge Baker Guidance Center from 1959-63.

Stories on Ayres have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Jose Mercury News and the San Mateo County Times. Here is a story that appeared on the front page of the San Mateo County Times on April 26, 2005 (see below)

We need other survivors to come forward.
Anyone with information please E-mail :

Police probe child doctor
By Amy Yarbrough
Oakland Tribune - April 26, 2005

SAN MATEO -- A lauded child psychiatrist, who settled a lawsuit last summer with a former patient claiming he was molested by the doctor as a teen, is currently the subject of a criminal investigation, San Mateo police confirmed.

A search warrant was served on the home and office of Dr. William Ayres on March 10, according to Capt. Mike Callagy. He declined to comment on the nature of the investigation, and said the affidavit in the case has been sealed.

While police would not discuss the circumstances of the case, four people say they were interviewed for the investigation last fall after coming forward with their own molestation allegations. None of those incidents can be criminally prosecuted because the statute of limitations in each has expired.

A former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Ayres, 74, for decades had patients referred to him through local school districts and the county's juvenile court system. He also maintained a private practice.

This summer, Ayres settled a lawsuit with a man who claimed the psychiatrist molested him in 1977 when the man was 13. Attorneys on both sides have declined to release the details of the agreement, which does not admit guilt on Ayres' part.

(Name Removed), 36, an accuser who was not a party in last summer's suit, said his school district sent him to Ayres in 1985 when he was 15 after writing a note to a classmate that was misinterpreted as a suicide threat. (Name Removed) recounted the details of his visits with Ayres in a report taken by San Mateo police.

In the police report, (Name Removed) said Ayres unbuttoned his pants and performed a physical on him during their first session. During another session, Ayres sat in a chair in front of him, made him pull down his pants and touched his penis, saying he wanted to see how "developed" he was, the report said. By the end of the school year, he had failed all his classes, stopped dressing for P.E. and lost interest in drama, (Name Removed) told police.

(Name Removed) said he told his mother what happened and she informed her therapist. The therapist made a report about the alleged molestation to Child Protective Services in 1987.

According to CPS's report, the case was then referred to San Mateo police. After an investigation, the complaint was deemed unfounded.

(Name Removed) showed the Times the CPS report and said he also provided it to San Mateo police when they reinterviewed him last fall.

"This all could have been settled 20 years ago and God knows how many kids he's seen," (Name Removed) said recently. "Twenty years ago I thought it was just me."

(Name Removed)'s complaint, as well as the three others the Times has learned about, does not fall within the statute of limitations for child molestation.

Under a law that went into effect on Jan. 31, 2006, victims can pursue criminal charges up until their 28th birthday. Prior to that, the time period was 10 years.

Well-regarded in the juvenile court system, Ayres was honored by county supervisors in 2002 for his lifetime achievement, commitment to children and for serving on the county's Children & Families First Commission. Ayres helped in developing the commission's strategic plan, which was issued in March 2000.

Reached at his Hillsborough home, Ayres declined to comment on the search warrant. He referred all questions to his attorney, Jim Collins, who was unavailable and has not returned calls from the Times.
A top San Francisco criminal defense attorney, Collins represented Alex Fagan Jr., one of three off-duty San Francisco police officers accused of the November 2002 beating of two men, dubbed the "Fajitagate" scandal. Collins has also defended several priests accused of molestation.

Gerry Hilliard, managing attorney for the Private Defender Program at juvenile court, said Ayres was the "most trusted, most professional and most helpful" of any the psychiatrists the program has worked with.

Hilliard said attorneys in the program have used Ayres to do evaluations of the mental status of their clients. He estimates that Ayres was brought in on about 10 cases a year, but said he has retired and no longer works with the program.

Hilliard said he never heard any complaints from juvenile clients or their parents about Ayres. Hilliard would have no knowledge of (Name Removed)'s 1987 complaint because it was made through the county's child welfare system, not the juvenile court.

"It comes as a shock. I don't believe it," he said of the allegations. "I would use him today had he not retired."

Supervisor Rich Gordon said Ayres' term on the Children & Families First Commission lasted until the end of 2001 and he did not seek reappointment for health reasons. Gordon served with Ayres on the commission for about a year, and remembers the psychiatrist was very interested in teaching fellow board members about early child brain development.

Gordon said he was "very surprised" by the allegations.

"I thought his service on that commission to the county was exemplary," he said.

Barbara Ross said it was Ayres' role as a psychiatrist that made her and her husband initially doubt their son, Douglas, when he told them as a teenager that Ayres molested him.

Ross said police talked to her for the investigation. She said Douglas, who has since passed away, saw Ayres when he was 12 in 1972, because he was afraid of entering junior high. She remembers the psychiatrist giving her son presents.

"At the time I thought it was strange," she said.

Ross said Douglas later told her that Ayres had molested him. She said she and her husband didn't believe their son at the time because they trusted Ayres because he was a doctor.

"We didn't believe him," she said. "You don't believe anyone in that position with that authority (would do that)."

Another alleged victim said he came forward after seeing newspaper articles about the civil settlement this summer. The county resident, who didn't want his named used, said he was molested by Ayres in the late 1960s. The man remembers being in his early teens when his pediatrician referred him to Ayres for pestering his brother.

On their first visit, the man said Ayres made him take his pants and underwear off and did a standard hernia evaluation on him, claims echoed in the statement the man gave to police this fall.
At some point during the approximately eight subsequent visits, the man said, Ayres asked sexually suggestive questions and touched his penis.

Disturbed by the visits, the man told the Times, he formulated a plan to get out of seeing Ayres: stop teasing his brother. He said he didn't remember what happened to him until a few years ago when he started seeing news reports about priests accused of molestation.

"I had mixed feelings about it when the priest thing came out," he said. "I kept looking in the paper for (his) name to see if he had ever been caught."

Another man who, likewise, saw the newspaper articles told police he saw Ayres for psychological therapy in 1978, when he was 12 years old. He also spoke to the Times on the condition that his name not be used.

Early on in their visits, the man said, Ayres had him build models.

"There was no substance to the conversation," he said. "I didn't like him. I didn't know why I was going to him."

During their third session Ayres told the man he needed to give him a physical exam and told him to take off his clothes, according to his statement to police. Ayres explained he needed to check his penis to see if the urethra was correctly centered, then grabbed it and started to stimulate it, the report said.

He told police he pulled away, put his clothes back on and left the office. The man said the alleged molestation took place only once, the report said.

"I told my parents. They didn't respond at all," the man told the Times. "I went back once or twice after that and then I just stopped (going). I don't know why I stopped."

The man said he deeply regrets not reporting it to police sooner.

"I've thought about it every year since it happened," he said.

Staff writer Amy Yarbrough covers police and public safety. She can be reached at (650) 348-4339 or


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correction: there are three Ayres victims who are Jewish, not two. Those are just the ones we know about.

July 17, 2006 4:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a good new blog on Dr. Ayres, started by a victim:

September 30, 2008 8:33 AM  

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