A San Mateo psychiatrist who was charged with molesting seven male patients in the early 1990s was committed to a state mental hospital on Wednesday. San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert ordered 79-year-old William Ayres to surrender himself into custody at Napa State Hospital within 30 days, according to the district attorney’s office. Prosecutors had asked the court to immediately order Ayres into custody, but Grandsaert allowed the defendant a 30-day window to prepare himself because of his complicated medical issues.
On Aug. 22, the district attorney’s office conceded that Ayres, who suffers from dementia, would not be mentally fit to aid in his own defense in what would likely have been a lengthy trial on the molestation charges. Ayres, the former head of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, had been 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 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, with jurors deadlocked 8-4 in favor of finding the defendant incompetent. Ayres will be required to spend a minimum of six months in custody at Napa State Hospital before hospital staff and the court can recommend any other type of custody arrangement.
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, according to the district attorney’s office.
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