Psychiatrist’s trial set for fall

A November trial date has been set for William Ayres, the former prominent child psychiatrist charged with molesting his patients, authorities said Friday, although his defense will argue for the case’s dismissal this week.

On Thursday, Superior Court Judge Norman Gatzert will decide whether the court will allow seven of Ayres’ alleged victims to testify.

Ayres’ defense attorney, Doron Weinberg filed a motion in May arguing the search warrant used by San Mateo police before they arrested Ayres in April 2007 violated his constitutional rights and patient-doctor confidentiality. Police used the warrant to obtain some 600 names of the 76-year-old’s patients, ages 11 to 17, and began calling them looking for evidence, Weinberg said.

Police used that information to find the alleged victims, and their subsequent testimony would be disallowed if the judge rules that police found them illegally.

Prosecutor Melissa McKowan’s arguments are based off of testimony from the alleged victims and not DNA or other scientific evidence, Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. Almost all of the victims named in the case planned to testify, he said.

As a result, if Gatzert approves the motion to suppress the evidence, Weinberg said he might move to dismiss the case.

“It’s a very important ruling for either side,” Wagstaffe said.

Additionally, Weinberg may have to participate in a lengthy trial for another client in Los Angeles starting Sept. 29. Weinberg, and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office — which both agreed on the November trial date for Ayres — will meet again Aug. 19, after Weinberg knows the status of the Los Angeles case, to determine whether the Ayres trial will be in November or postponed until January at the earliest, Weinberg said.

Ayres, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer earlier this year, is free on $500,000 cash bail after being charged with 20 counts of lewd acts with a minor under the age of 14.

The trial is expected to last several weeks.

mrosenberg@sfexaminer.com

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