REDWOOD CITY, California — A once-prominent Northern California child psychiatrist could get up to eight years in prison after he pleaded no contest to charges that he molested patients.
William Ayres, 81, entered his plea Thursday to eight molestation charges on the eve of a retrial, the San Mateo County Times reported (http://bit.ly/YN7O8L ). He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 6 and remains free on $900,000 bail.
Ayres was tried in 2009 on charges that he molested several young boys under his care, 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 were ready to call several men who claim Ayres allegedly molested them as children in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They said they were aware of 50 alleged victims.
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.
Victim's advocate Victoria Balfour said she made her first call to San Mateo police in 2002 about Ayres.
"I thought that Ayres would be arrested imminently, and the case wrapped up within the year. Little did I know," she wrote the newspaper in an email. "Along the way, some of the victims I know have committed suicide. I hope that this guilty plea brings relief to the victims who are still with us."