Abuse case against Peninsula psychiatrist continues to grow

In a widening case in which alleged abuse victims are coming forward on a daily basis, William Ayres — the longtime San Mateo child psychiatrist accused of molesting boys under his care — will face additional charges when he is arraigned today, prosecutors said.

Due to the case’s publicity, claims of molestations have rapidly surfaced, with 37 men saying they were allegedly molested by Ayres when they were minors, Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan said.

The 75-year-old Ayres, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, who examined children at the request of local school districts and the county juvenile system, was arrested April 5 at his San Mateo home after a year-long investigation by San Mateo police.

The criminal investigation was prompted by a civil lawsuit from a former patient who claimed Ayres molested him in the 1970s. Ayres is facing 18 charges of molesting five boys between 1991 and 1996. He is free after posting $750,000 bail on April 13.

McKowan said Thursday that more charges will be added, but declined to comment further. She said she continues to receive phone calls from alleged victims every day.

Barbara Ross of San Mateo, whose late son was an alleged victim in 1972, said as the case has progressed, people have felt comfortable in recounting their experiences.

“There is safety in numbers. It is very difficult for anyone to speak up in this case,” she said.

One alleged victim from Southern California, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the number of alleged victims will reverse Ayres’ reputation as a community figure.

“I’ll be happy to come out and say what he did when he’s on trial,” he said. “It just angers me that he’s been able to get away with presenting himself as an authority on something. There’s nothing pleasant about coming forward as an adult and dredging this stuff up from when you were a child.”

San Mateo police Capt. Mike Callagy, who led the initial investigation, said he is not surprised by the growing number of charges and expects more to come.

“I think there are many people out there that we haven’t been able to reach,” he said.

In an interview with The Examiner in August 2006, Ayres denied molesting patients but that he conducted full-body examinations.

The five alleged victims named in the criminal case say they were molested after 1988 — putting the alleged crimes within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution.

McKowan has said others who say they were abused before 1988 may be used as witnesses in a trial against Ayres. Ayres’ attorney, Doron Weinberg, did not return calls for comment Thursday.

bfoley@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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