Monday, July 27, 2009

Hung Jury at Ayres' Molestation Trial

It's over—for now. Very disappointing.

I am sure more information will come out in the days to come. Sure will be interesting to learn how those jurors who did not believe the men who bravely testified will feel when they learn the number of victims who have come forward, how there has already been one civil trial settled, and that the worst cases of molestation could not be brought to trial due to the statute of limitations (and the last-minute loss of one witness who'd been digitally penetrated).


Anonymous said...

My local news just reported that they were hung 11-1. One. One person holding out. :shakes head:

Anonymous said...

One person holding out--for guilt.

Anonymous said...

Even trhe prosecutor does not kow which way the count went:

Prosecutor Will Likely Retry Ayres Case After Mistrial
Posted: 7:10 pm PDT July 27, 2009

REDWOOD CITY -- The prosecuting attorney in the case against William Ayres, a prominent San Mateo child psychiatrist accused of molesting several young patients in the 1980s and 1990s, said she will likely retry the case after a mistrial was declared Monday afternoon.

Ayres, 77, quietly left the courtroom today after San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Beth Freeman announced that the jury was hopelessly deadlocked in the highly publicized case.

The jury foreperson told Freeman that among the nine counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 Ayres has been charged with, the jurors ranged from 11 to one, to seven to five on each count.

Prosecutor Melissa McKowan said she speculated the jury was more in favor of convicting Ayres of the charges based on their body language and statements they made, but said she plans to speak with them more in the next month.

"If it is 11 to one for guilty, I certainly would retry the case," McKowan said. "I am deeply disappointed, and I feel terrible for the victims."

She said that the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office cannot change the charges against Ayres, and he therefore still faces the same nine counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14.

Ayres, who was president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from 1993 to 1995, faces up to life in prison if convicted.

After the mistrial was declared this afternoon, Ayres' defense attorney Doron Weinberg said that he and his client were relieved the jury didn't convict Ayres, but disappointed that he wasn't acquitted.

"The fundamental question" the jury faced was whether Ayres was "a legitimate psychiatrist" or whether he was "sexually motivated," Weinberg said.

The trial focused largely on physical exams Ayres conducted on his patients. The six alleged victims testified the doctor groped them, and while Ayres admitted to performing physical exams in which the boys were naked from the waist down, he testified that nothing inappropriate happened.

Weinberg said the doctor is "willing to accept responsibility for offending the patients," and said it is possible the doctor was conducting legitimate medical exams but somehow upset the patients.

Weinberg said he agreed to allow the jury to consider lesser battery charges, but in order for jurors to convict Ayres of battery they would have had to acquit him of the lewd and lascivious charges.

McKowan and Weinberg will meet with Freeman at the end of August to discuss the next step. If McKowan decides not to retry the case, the district attorney's office could either dismiss the charges against Ayres or come up with a plea deal.

Ayres remains free in lieu of $750,000 cash bail.

donchais said...

This is such a shame.

My heart goes out to the brave men who had the strength and courage to come forward.

As for Weinberg's statements...well, it is Weinberg.

Trapellar said...

Mainstream press is reporting

11-1 for guilt on six counts. Lone holdout was a new woman lawyer.

Trapellar said...

From August 1 San Mateo County Times:

Juror discusses Ayres mistrial
The jurors in the trial of Dr. William Ayres were one vote away from convicting the once-prominent child psychiatrist of molestation.
But uncertainty over whether Ayres, 77, was a pedophile or had just sloppily performed his duties resulted in a deadlocked jury, and a mistrial was declared on Monday by San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Beth Freeman.
The jury was closest to a verdict — they voted 11 to 1 in favor of conviction — on the allegations brought by former patient Scott E., according to a juror who asked not to be identified.
The juror said the panel believed the testimony of all 10 former patients who took the stand, despite the possibility that some of their memories had been compromised by suggestion or the passage of time. The jury was impressed by the men's courage in coming forward and publicly discussing what was likely their deepest, darkest secret, the juror said.
Scott E.'s testimony, in particular his reaction to a physical exam, convinced most of the jury that Ayres had not conducted a simple exam but had instead performed a sexual act on an 11-year-old boy, the juror said.
Scott testified that he had a chest cramp during a 1991 session with Ayres and accepted an offer from the doctor to be physically examined. During the exam, the back of Ayres' hand brushed against Scott's testicles.
The man told the court that he "felt violated" at the time, and he informed his mother following the exam that he would not return to see the doctor again.
"It wouldn't be what you would want your child to experience," said the juror, who declined to discuss why one member of the panel voted for acquittal on this charge.
Making these decisions was not taken lightly by the panel, the juror said. The 12 men and women knew that a guilty verdict was tantamount to a life sentence for Ayres, who already has battled prostate cancer. But they also knew that a mistrial would mean the alleged victims will not get closure anytime soon.
"It was extremely disappointing," the juror said.

Anonymous said...

Patient Advocate has a letter writing campaign going to get the San Mateo District Attorney's office to retry the case.