81-year-old once-prominent California psychiatrist sentenced to 8 years in molestation case

A once-prominent Northern California child psychiatrist was sentenced Monday to eight years in prison for molesting his young patients over a span of three decades.

William Ayres, 81, received his sentence after several hours of emotional statements from the men he molested when they were under his care as boys, the San Mateo County Times reported (http://bit.ly/13UpGTL ).

One of the victims, who is now a psychotherapist helping teens, called Ayres a "monster."

"I was the perfect candidate for you to perform your perversions on," said the man, identified as Thomas C. in court. "I told my parents and they didn't believe me."

Ayres, wearing red jail clothes and seated in a wheelchair, mostly stared at the table in front of him, but did look up occasionally at his victims, according to the newspaper.

The former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry pleaded no contest in May to eight molestation charges on the eve of a retrial.

Ayres was tried in 2009 on charges that he molested several young boys under his care from the 1960s through the 1990s, but a jury couldn't reach a verdict.

Prosecutors attempted to retry him, but Ayres was ruled incompetent and sent to a hospital. A judge sided with prosecutors last year who argued that he fooled mental health experts into believing he had dementia to avoid prosecution.

Ayers was accused of using physical exams that included the genitals as a cover for the abuse. He testified at his trial that the exams he conducted on some of his patients were necessary because he had concerns about their physical health.

Prosecutors said they were aware of 50 alleged victims.

Ayres' 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.

Between 1987-2002, officials received at least four sexual abuse complaints about Ayres, the Times reported. In 2002, he was honored by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors with an award recognizing his "tireless effort to improve the lives of children."


Information from: San Mateo County Times, http://www.sanmateotimes.com