REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – A once-prominent Northern California child psychiatrist is set to be retried on charges that he molested patients after a judge sided with prosecutors who argued that he fooled mental health experts into believing he had dementia to avoid prosecution.
San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Grandsaert set a March 2013 trial date for William Ayres, 80, on Wednesday.
Ayres was tried in 2009 on charges that he molested several young boys under his care, but a jury couldn't reach a verdict. He was accused of using physical exams that included the genitals as a cover for the abuse.
Prosecutors attempted to retry him, but Ayres was ruled incompetent and sent to Napa State Hospital.
Grandsaert said a key factor in his ruling was a report from a psychologist who said Ayres faked or at least exaggerated dementia.
The psychologist, John McIlnay, said Ayres was able to perform tasks that would be difficult for someone with dementia, including spelling "Alzheimer's" for the nurse filling out his admissions form and recognizing and greeting a fellow psychiatrist he hadn't seen in more than a year.
The defense countered that a dozen mental health professionals who examined Ayres, including two doctors at Napa State Hospital, agreed he had dementia.
Ayres' attorney, Jonathan McDougall, told the San Mateo County Times (http://bit.ly/W8vULB ) he'll consider appealing Grandsaert's decision.
Ayres is the former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. His patients were a mix of private clients from wealthy families who were referred by their pediatricians and troubled juvenile delinquents ordered to undergo therapy by the courts.
He was arrested in 2007 after a four-year investigation, and his license to practice medicine was suspended.
Ayres testified at his trial that the exams he conducted on some of his patients were necessary because he had concerns about their physical health.