William Ayres, the prominent child psychiatrist accused of molesting dozens of pre-adolescent boys in San Mateo County over decades, pleaded not guilty to all the charges against him Thursday in his Superior Court arraignment in Redwood City.
Ayres, a 75-year-old former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is facing a jury trial on charges that he improperly touched seven male patients ages 9 to 12.
A San Mateo County Superior Court judge ruled after a preliminary hearing last month that the evidence is "quite strong" that Ayres molested the patients.
A jury trial was set by another judge Thursday for March 10 - a date that could be set back by a series of defense motions. Defense attorney Doron Weinberg told the judge that he plans to file two "complex" motions.
Outside the courtroom, Weinberg told reporters that the first motion would be to suppress evidence produced by a search, which yielded the medical records that police used to find alleged victims of the child psychiatrist.
Weinberg, who had already told the press in May that he planned to file such a motion, called the search warrant "improper" and said that it "violates the client-psychotherapist privilege.
If a judge agrees that the warrant should never have been issued, the entire case against Ayres could be invalidated, Weinberg said.
Prosecutors were able to initiate their case against Ayres with the help of three alleged victims, each of whom was located after the search warrant was served.
The criminal case against Ayres developed in the wake of a 2004 civil suit filed by a former patient who claims to have been molested by Ayres three decades ago.
In 2005, Ayres and the former patient - "James Doe," now in his 40s - settled the suit outside of court for an undisclosed amount of money.
Last month, Ayres filed a $1 million civil suit in San Mateo County Superior Court against an insurance company that he claims provided him malpractice insurance between 1979 and 1981, when James Doe was his patient.
Ayres is suing the Cranford Insurance Company/Merrill Management, which allegedly issued the policy, charging breach of contract and bad faith for the company's failure to pay the settlement in the Doe case.
He is also suing the law firm that represented Peninsula Psychiatric Associates - the now-defunct psychiatric facility where Ayres practiced - for professional negligence.
Meanwhile, the parents of James Doe sat in court Thursday with the parent of another alleged victim and shook their heads after learning that Ayres' jury trial would not occur until March.
Although the parents' children are not part of the current criminal case against Ayres - both alleged victims are outside the statute of limitations - they have attended every court date for the child psychiatrist.
Psychiatrist faces more sexual assault charges
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 10/10/07
A Lawrenceville psychiatrist was back in jail Wednesday with no bond allowed after more women came forward to say he inappropriately touched them, police said Wednesday.
Six more women have given statements to police similar to the first alleged victim, said Capt. Greg Vaughn, a spokesman for the Lawrenceville Police Department. The first woman who complained to police told them that Dr. Mohammad Qureshi asked her to disrobe during a psychiatric session and touched her breasts, he said.
"That's the thing," Vaughn said. None of the women "knows exactly what happened (with the first woman) so when they come forward and tell us (similar details), it's like, 'Wow, same thing.'"
Police charged Qureshi Tuesday afternoon with six counts of felony sexual assault and six counts of misdemeanor sexual battery. Those charges are in addition to one count of sexual assault and one count of sexual battery Qureshi faces as a result of the first woman who contacted police.
In addition to the seven women who have come forward, Vaughn said, there are perhaps two more who have called police but have not given statements.
Qureshi, 45, worked at the Gwinnett-Rockdale-Newton Community Services Board, which assists people suffering from mental illness, retardation or drug addiction. He was dismissed by the board after the first woman complained about him to police.
Qureshi said a few days ago that the allegations were "totally false."
Vaughn declined to give details of how Qureshi convinced the women to disrobe, in order to keep allegations valid if more women come forward.
But, "I could see how he could it," he said. "The red flag should have come up, but you trust your doctor and (if) he talks well enough to do it, I could somewhat see [how it could have happened]."