A San Mateo County Superior Court judge on Thursday denied a request by the attorney representing Dr. William Ayres, accused of child molestation, for his release from Napa State Hospital, where he has been held since Oct. 25 to restore his competency for retrial.
In a motion to the court, Ayres' lawyer and children asked that he be transferred to an unlocked senior facility or released for outpatient treatment because his mental state is quickly deteriorating. The once-prominent child psychiatrist scored "severely impaired" on a recent dementia test, according to documents released last week.
But Judge John Grandsaert said he is not legally allowed to consider the request because there was no written declaration from the hospital's director about Ayres' mental state. Ayres' treating physician was in court instead.
Grandsaert set a hearing date for July 25, when a six-month report is due on Ayres' competency. The judge also noted that a 90-day report indicates "there's some possibility of restoration to competence."
Before the session started, Ayres slowly shuffled into the Hall of Justice courtroom in Redwood City using a walker. He wore a standard orange jumpsuit with a chain around his waist; his white beard, once close-cropped, was long and unkempt.
A trial on charges that the former head of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry molested several young male patients at his San Mateo office ended in a hung jury
On Thursday, deputy district attorney Melissa McKowan said the 90-day report indicated Ayres was "intentionally not cooperating" with his treatment.
"His pointed intention not to be restored to competency while he was at Napa during that first three months, that led to that," she said. "Maybe if he had cooperated and had done everything they said, that 90-day report would have gotten him out," she added.
"It's outrageous to suggest that someone with dementia is in some way preventing his return to competency," responded Ayres' attorney, Jonathan McDougall.
The motion to release Ayres from the state hospital included letters from his adult children and the summary of an evaluation by a Napa doctor whose April 18 neuro-psychological evaluation found the 80-year-old has suffered "significant deterioration" in his mental functioning.
"Mr. Ayres is not a danger to society," McDougall said. He argued that his client's due process rights are being violated because it's unlikely he would ever be able to stand trial.
"There's no argument he has dementia, and I don't think there's an argument that he'll be returned to competency," McDougall said.
Referring to the 90-day report, however, McKowan pointed out that Ayres' wife had encouraged him to try a particular treatment and he refused. "He said, 'Why, so I can go to prison?' " McKowan said, adding that Ayres has been simply trying to wait out his time at the hospital until he could be released.
After the hearing, McKowan said in an interview that she was pleased with the judge's decision. Asked if she expects Ayres to ever be declared competent for another trial, she said she didn't know.
"It will be up to the doctors," she said. "I'm sure the victims would be happy for that to happen."
Five people who attended Thursday's hearing said they are family members of victims. One woman, who did not want to be named, said Ayres does not deserve to be released. "He's destroyed so many lives," she said.
Members of Ayres' family declined to comment after the hearing.