General Crime

* William Ayres San Mateo psychiatrist who was accused of molesting seven male patients deemed unfit for trial

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A San Mateo psychiatrist who was accused of molesting seven male patients in the early 1990s has been deemed incompetent to stand trial, San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said today. The district attorney’s office agreed that William Ayres, 79, who suffers from dementia and memory loss, would not be able to aid in his own defense, Wagstaffe said.

The former head of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry will now be sent to the Golden Gate Regional Center in San Mateo for evaluation, Wagstaffe said. A hearing to determine where Ayres’ will be permanently housed will be held in San Mateo County Superior Court on Sept. 7. “The law requires that he be held in a locked psychiatric facility,” Wagstaffe said. The district attorney’s office plans to argue for Ayres to be sent to Napa State Hospital, Wagstaffe said.

If his competency is restored — which is unlikely, given the progressive nature of dementia — Ayres would return to San Mateo County to face a criminal trial, Wagstaffe said. Ayres was charged with nine counts of performing lewd acts on seven boys during counseling sessions that took place between 1991 and 1996. A criminal trial in the summer of 2009 ended with a hung jury, but prosecutors decided that August to retry the case.

The criminal proceedings were suspended when Ayres’ attorney, Jonathan McDougall, questioned his client’s competency due to the onset of dementia. A jury trial to determine Ayres’ competency was held in June. A mistrial was declared after jurors deadlocked 8 to 4, with the majority deciding that Ayres’ deteriorating mental condition would make him unfit to stand trial.

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