Ayres pleads not guilty to molestation

A renowned child psychiatrist accused of molesting dozens of former patients pleaded not guilty to 20 felony counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor Thursday.

Williams Ayres, 75, is charged with sexually abusing seven boys between 1991 and 1996. Ayres, who will face a jury trial March 10 and is free on $750,000 bail, quickly left with his wife following the hearing.

His attorney, Doron Weinberg, said he plans to file a motion to suppress evidence at Ayres’ next court date, Jan. 15.

Weinberg said the patient files seized by police from Ayres’ home and office in March 2006 were based on an improperly issued search warrant and should not be admitted.

There are more than 30 other former patients who claim Ayres, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, molested them, but the alleged crimes occurred beyond the statute of limitations, according to prosecutors.

On Thursday, Weinberg said he is researching whether the claims of the most recent alleged victims might also fall beyond the statute of limitations. He said the evidence presented at last month’s preliminary hearing may be insufficientto support the charges against Ayres but declined to comment further.

At the Aug. 8 hearing, two San Mateo police detectives gave graphic descriptions of accusations made by at least a dozen alleged victims. Many of the former patients claimed Ayres masturbated them, according to the detectives.

One alleged victim told police that Ayres asked him to undress and urinate into a cup in front of him, police said.

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

The case is being closely watched by families and friends of the alleged victims, several of whom came to Thursday’s hearing.

Barbara Morrison, whose husband, Dr. Doug Morrison, debated Ayres on television in 1968 over the merits of the psychiatrist’s KQED sex education show “A Time of Your Life,” drove from Chico to see Ayres face the charges Thursday. Morrison said she was disappointed that the jury trial will not commence until March.

“It’s very frustrating,” she said. “He’s been protected for 40 years. These poor kids have been destroyed.”

A civil lawsuit filed against Ayres in 2002 by an alleged victim was settled out of court. Though Ayres admitted no guilt, the lawsuit led to San Mateo police reviewing complaints against Ayres and interviewing more than 200 former patients. He was subsequently arrested at his San Mateo home April 5.

tbarak@examiner.com

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