REDWOOD CITY -- A judge on Wednesday denied bail for a once-renowned Bay Area child psychiatrist who prosecutors say faked dementia in order to avoid retrial on charges he molested five of his patients.
But San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert said that under state law he can't make a final ruling on 80-year-old William Ayres' bail until the issue of the doctor's mental competency for trial has been resolved.
State psychiatrists have said Ayres, of San Mateo, is mentally well enough for retrial on nine counts of child molestation, however defense attorney Jonathan McDougall has challenged that finding. At McDougall's request Grandsaert has set an Oct. 1 competency hearing.
Ayres, who looked frail and was pushed into court in a wheel chair, will remain behind bars at least until the competency trial wraps up. He's been in San Mateo County's lock up since Aug. 1 and before that he'd been in Napa State Hospital for about nine months.
Ayres was committed Oct. 25 after defense and prosecution agreed his mind was too far gone to dementia to be able to defense himself at trial. But a July 24 report from Napa hospital says Ayres used his psychiatric knowledge to fake or exaggerate his Alzheimer's-related dementia to avoid the molestation charges, according to prosecutors.
McDougall repeatedly argued bail is his client's constitutional right and leaving him behind bars amounts to punishment. When it became clear
In court papers opposing bail, Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan said Ayres is a threat to his accusers.
"He is exceptionally manipulative and clearly poses a danger to the rights of the victims, who have been defrauded in their quest for justice," McKowan wrote. Ayres, "repeatedly told the doctors at Napa State Hospital that 'this path' is preferable to prison and that he believes if he goes to trial hewill be convicted."
A jury in July 2009 deadlocked on whether Ayres was guilty of abusing his young male patients in the 1990s at his San Mateo office. Five took the stand against him and testified he groped them while performing what Ayres termed "physical exams." On the stand Ayres said the physicals were an appropriate part of psychiatric treatment. The jury voted 11-1 for conviction on at least one count.
The criminal case against Ayres represented a tumble from notoriety for the one-time head of the prestigious American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. He also worked extensively for San Mateo County's juvenile justice division and the Board of Supervisors in 2002 honored him for his lifetime of achievement in "improving the lives of children."
Contact Joshua Melvin at 650-348-4335. Follow him at Twitter.com/melvinreport.