The former child psychiatrist trying to withdraw his no contest plea to molesting several former male patients is once again mentally incompetent, according to his attorney.
Defense attorney John McDougall filed his fourth competency motion Wednesday in advance of William Hamilton Ayres’ Monday sentencing hearing, said District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.
McDougall also reportedly filed a doctor’s report under seal. He has not yet filed a motion to withdraw his plea but has until Monday when a judge has set aside two days for that request and, if denied, sentencing on eight felony counts of child molestation. He faces between eight and 22 years in prison.
Wagstaffe said prosecutor Melissa McKowan is currently reviewing the new motion but “undoubtedly we will vigorously oppose it and strive to make sure Aug. 26 is his sentencing.”
McDougall did not return a call for comment.
The mental fitness of Ayres, 81, has been a key factor in his prosecution ever since his first trial ended with a hung jury and a second hit a lengthy delay while doctors, a jury and then a judge wrestled with whether he has truly unable to aid in his own defense or exaggerating Alzheimer’s-related dementia.
To merit a new finding of incompetence, McDougall must prove his client’s mental state has undergone a substantial change since the last ruling, Wagstaffe said.
Ayres spent time at Napa State Hospital with prosecution approval after both his 2009 criminal trial and a competency trial ended without verdicts. However, doctors concluded he was malingering and sent him back to San Mateo County last year for his second trial. In May, McDougall made a last-ditch effort to have his client declared incompetent but a high court denied his appeal of an earlier ruling and hours later Ayres abruptly changed his plea.
Aug. 7, Judge Beth Freeman delayed sentencing until Monday to allow a doctor more time for a mandatory recidivism report. At the same time, Freeman took Ayres into custody and McDougall indicated his desire to withdraw the earlier plea.
Ayres was originally charged with molesting six patients between 1988 and 1996 when they were ages 9 to 13, authorities believe he abused dozens of other patients whose cases fall outside the statute of limitations.
Prior to his 2007 arrest, Ayres was well-known as president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and as host of the sex education series “Time of Your Life.” He also received San Mateo County juvenile court referrals. Police began looking at him in 2002 and, in 2005, Ayres settled the first of several lawsuits with former patients.
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