General Crime

* William Ayres Sent to Napa State Mental Hospital

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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.

William Ayres

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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  • The reporter has this wrong. Since June 24, 2011, the prosecutor on the Ayres case, Melissa Mckowan has been telling reporters and families of victims that they will NOT be sending Ayres to Napa, and that they were permitting Ayres’ lawyer to look for a rest home for him.

    She continued to tell people this until August 18, 2011. Then a mother of a victim told her boss, DA Steve Wagstaffe about Mckowan’s “NO Napa” story. Wagstaffe was mad that Mckowan blew the lid on their secret rest home deal, so he started telling people they were sending him to Napa.

    However, there is a waiting list for Napa, months and months. Watch for Ayres’ lawyer to come up with some medical excuse not to put him there. The DA knows this already.

    Additionally, this story neglects to mention that a private investigator hired by the victims’ familiies tailed Ayres to a restaurant where he talked about the Iowa straw polls, the future of the Republican party and his past business ventures. Three investigators report he is competent, as do Ayres’ doctor pals who have seen him dining around San Francisco..

    The California Attorney General has been petitioned for a change of venue.

    There was a clear conflict of interest- the San Mateo DA’s office hired Ayres to evaluate boys for years. He was under contract by the Juvenile courts, where he made bargains with the boys – if you let me do this to you, I will make sure you don’t go to juvenile hall. The DA fears lawsuits…. that’s why they put their worst most incompetent prosecutor on the case…with no backup or co-counsel. They didn’t want to win.

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