Police get 700 patient names in investigation of renowned doctor

An attorney appointed by the San Mateo County Superior Court has released more than 700 names of former patients to the San Mateo Police Department as it investigates the background of renowned San Mateo child psychiatrist William Ayres, police said Thursday.

“We have a lot of names to go through,” Capt. Mike Callagy said. “We’ve got several detectives that are going to go through this with me.”

Last summer, Ayres settled a lawsuit with a grown former patient who accused the doctor of sexually molesting him between 1977 and 1978. Ayres denied the accusations, and the terms of the settlement were not made public. Since then, the retired doctor has sued his former medical group, Peninsula Psychiatric Associates, declaring that he suffered “substantial damage” because he cannot bill back his settlement to his malpractice-insurance carrier from 1977 through 1981.

In March, police received a warrant to search his property and seized his files, which were turned over to the court-appointed “special master.” Callagy had been urged to act by other grown men who claimed that they too were molested in their youth during “physical examinations” while receiving counseling, but their claims lie outside the time limit of the state’s statute of limitations. Three such men, two mothers of deceased men and a friend of a sixth man all spoke with The Examiner about their experiences. Ayres has denied he molested them.

All of the names released to police fall within the statute of limitations, which runs from 1988 to 2005. Police will contact these individuals as they try to determine if there is a case against the doctor, Callagy said.

Meanwhile, at least one citizen has started his own search. A blog, “Jewish Survivors of Sexual Violence Speak Out,” has reposted news articles on the case and asked for contact from alleged victims.

“I don’t think it’s negative if all they’re doing is asking people to come forward,” Callagy said.

Ayres was president of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, and was lauded for his work by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 2002.

kwilliamson@examiner.com

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