Ten people told stories today, many tearfully, of how molestations by former San Mateo child psychiatrist William Ayres drastically changed the direction of their lives.
Ayers was sentenced to 8 years in prison Monday afternoon for molestations of five boys who came to him for counseling in the 1990s.
In the packed San Mateo County Superior courtroom of Judge Beth Labson Freeman this morning, the victims of Ayres and their loved ones addressed the court to give their victim impact statements -- the last step in the legal process before Ayres is sentenced.
Ayres, 81 and wheelchair-bound, barely looked up during the hearing. Dressed in red jail-issued clothing with his white hair disheveled, he stared forward, never once glancing to the side to make eye contact with those who chose to stand to deliver their accounts rather than sit on the witness stand.
On May 16, just after the start of his second jury trial, Ayres pleaded no contest to eight counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 for allegedly inappropriately touching five boys who had come to him for counseling in the 1990s. He was remanded into custody on Aug. 7.
Prosecutors contend the victims were fondled as part of "medical" examinations conducted during counseling sessions with Ayres between 1991 and 1996. The boys were between the ages of 9 and 13 at the time, according to prosecutors.
Ayres treated child patients from the 1960s to 2006, according to the district attorney's office. He was also called upon to evaluate hundreds of cases, including some involving sex offenders, in San Mateo County juvenile court as far back as the 1970s.
On Monday morning, with four armed guards standing beside Ayres, victim Thomas C., wearing black thick-rimmed glasses, took his turn to address the court. With his eyes focused on Ayres, Thomas C. referred to him as a serial pedophile.
"You look like a wolf spider -- you don't even know how many children you caught in your web," he said.
Thomas C., now a psychiatrist himself who focuses on helping adolescents, ended his statement with, "You are going where all the other wolf spiders go to die."
Many spoke of the societal responsibility Ayres had to these children who, at the time of their molestations, were in desperate need of help, not further abuse.
Victim Carl F. spoke at length about Ayres' proven knowledge on the life-altering effects that sexual abuse has on children. He read excerpts from a paper Ayres co-authored titled, "Practice Parameters for the Forensic Evaluation of Children and Adolescents Who May Have Been Physically or Sexually Abused," which appeared in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in 1997.
Carl F. was 9 years old when he went to see Ayres because his parents thought he seemed depressed. He said that since then, he has suffered from fear and guilt because he wasn't able "to stop him from molesting little boys."
The abuse he suffered, he said, has affected most aspects of his life and is evident in his relationships with his wife and 11-year-old son.
"He knew the damage he was doing to these children and he doesn't care," Carl F. said.
Barbara R.'s son was another victim of Ayres, she said. She spoke briefly on behalf of her son, who died years ago in a car accident. She said she has lived with guilt all these years, and wants the court to know that
"The ripple effect is tremendous in this kind of case."
Victim statements began just before 10 a.m., directly after Freeman ruled out last-ditch competency motions brought on by Ayres' retained defense attorney Jonathan McDougall. Victim statements are expected to continue throughout the afternoon.
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