Justice for alleged molestation victims postponed

Another delay in the trial of a former child psychiatrist who is accused of molestation has families of the alleged victims fuming.

Despite a partial victory for prosecutors in the Dr. William Ayres molestation case Friday, the trial has now been delayed another five months.

“We’re just frustrated,” said the mother of one alleged victim outside of court. “He has a right to a speedy trial. Why don’t the victims’ families?”

The trial, which was set to begin June 23, will likely start sometime in November, said Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan.

The decision to vacate the trial date followed a hearing Friday in which defense attorney Doron Weinberg sought to suppress evidence coming from police seizure of more than 600 patient files.

After testimony by investigators, San Mateo Superior Court Judge Norman Gatzert denied Weinberg’s motion that the search warrant used to seize the files was invalid. However, the judge delayed ruling on Weinberg’s second argument — that investigators’ need for the files was not compelling enough to justify invading the privacy of hundreds of patients.

In light of an April high court ruling regarding privacy rights, Gatzert asked both sides to submit supplemental briefs and return to court July 24.

If the evidence culled from the files is suppressed, it could potentially gut the case against Ayres, who is charged with fondling seven former patients between 1991 and 1996. More than 30 men have come forward, but their cases fall beyond the statute of limitations.

On Friday, Weinberg argued that San Mateo police lacked just cause when they served the former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with a search warrant.

Despite a four-year investigation, media coverage and an extensive search for patients who may have been molested by Ayres within the last 20 years, no recent victims had stepped forward at the time the doctor’s files were seized, Weinberg said.

Weinberg said that prosecutors, in their zeal to indict a man they believed was a dangerous child molester, trampled the privacy rights of innocent patients.

McKowan said that the seizure of the files was narrowly focused, and would be found lawful.

San Mateo police arrested Ayres in April 2007.

tbarak@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCrimeCrime & CourtsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Police release an image a cracked windshield on a Prius that Cesar Vargas allegedly tried to carjack. Vargas, who was shot by police a short time later, can be seen in videos jumping on the windshield and pushing a Muni passenger who disembarked from a bus. (Courtesy SFPD
SFPD releases videos of deadly police shooting

Cesar Vargas killed after reports of carjacking with knife

New legislation would make sure supportive housing tenants don’t pay more than 30 percent of their income for rent.. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner))
Supportive housing tenants could get more help paying the rent

Supportive housing tenants struggling to pay rent could soon see their payments… Continue reading

Organizers of the San Francisco International Arts Festival had planned to use parts of Fort Mason including the Parade Ground, Eucalyptus Grove and Black Point Battery to host performances by about a dozen Bay Area arts groups. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Arts festival sues city over permit denial

Organizer says outdoor performances should be treated like demonstrations, religious gatherings

An oversight body for San Francisco’s mental health programs may be restructured after questions were raised about its management and lack of effectiveness. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Behavioral health oversight body looks for new start — and staff — after mismanagement

Members of an oversight body for San Francisco’s behavioral health programs said… Continue reading

The City requires the recycling or reuse of debris material removed from a construction project site. <ins>(Emma Chiang/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
<ins></ins>
Permits proposed for haulers of construction debris to achieve zero-waste

San Francisco plans to tighten regulations on the disposal of construction and… Continue reading

Most Read