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April molestation retrial for doctor
October 10, 2009, 09:12 PM By Michelle Durand

The former San Mateo child psychiatrist accused of molesting six former male patients will be retried in April on the same nine felony charges which hung a jury in July.

Judge Beth Freeman — who has previously chastised William Hamilton Ayres’ defense for dragging its feet on picking a new trial date and once called an April recommendation unreasonable — agreed Friday to attorney Jonathan McDougall’s request for preparation time and set the date for April 12.

Freeman did not show the same leaning when McDougall sought a reduction in Ayres’ $750,000 bail which was posted since shortly after his April 2007 arrest and was itself a matter of controversy when dropped from the original $1.5 million arrest warrant amount.

Ayres, 77, is accused of molesting six former male patients when they were aged 9 to 13 between 1988 and 1996 under the guise of medical exams. Ayres has pleaded not guilty and testified that while he did perform physical exams, they were in the course of treatment and not inappropriate.

Police arrested Ayres after a search warrant of his storage locker turned up medical files used to identify potential victims. Opening statements began June 23 and the month-long trial included — along with the alleged victims testimony from their parents — child psychiatrists, a memory expert, law enforcement and, finally, Ayres himself.

During the trial, the six alleged victims testified as did four other former patients whose allegations fall outside the statute of limitations. The boys were referred to Ayres for behavioral problems, ADD and ADHD and to cope with family situations like divorce. Each testified to slightly different experiences with Ayres but all said their groins, testicles and/or penis were touched by Ayres. Two even said Ayres masturbated them, one while the doctor looked at a book with photographs of nude boys.

The first trial ended with the jury deadlocked in varied amounts on every count, leading to a mistrial July 27.

Original defense attorney Doron Weinberg and Ayres parted ways early into the retrial process and was replaced by McDougall.

As in the first trial, Ayres will be tried on nine counts of lewd and lascivious activity and a special allegation of substantial sexual activity which, if found true, carries a life sentence in prison. Jurors may also be allowed to consider a lesser charge of battery if they find Ayres not guilty of the more serious felonies but believe he touched the alleged victims in a way that was harmful but short of molestation.

The Ayres case drew wide publicity after his 2007 arrest because he commonly received referrals from the county’s courts, schools and social workers. He also served as president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry between 1993 to 1995 and developed a controversial sex education program for teenagers called "Time of Your Life.”  

Michelle Durand can be reached by e-mail: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. 

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