Juror dismissed in William Ayres trial

July 20, 2009 12:53:42 PM PDT
A San Mateo County Superior Court judge dismissed a juror Friday in the trial of a prominent child psychiatrist accused of molesting several patients after the juror remembered an incident in her past that was similar to the crimes alleged in the trial.

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"Something in the trial apparently triggered a memory she had had about a similar incident," said Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan, who is prosecuting the case against defendant William Ayres, 77.

The juror disclosed her memory in deliberations, which began last week, and another juror reported the woman's statements to the court.

"Upon interviewing the juror that was alleged to have made the comment, the court determined that that memory was so similar to what had happened in the case that she now felt the juror was biased and needed to be replaced," McKowan said today.

Judge Beth Freeman then replaced the dismissed juror with an alternate, and instructed the jury to begin their deliberations anew.

Ayres is charged with nine counts of committing lewd or lascivious acts on a child under 14 and faces up to life in prison if convicted of all counts. Jury deliberations began Tuesday morning after closing arguments were completed.

The charges stem from alleged abuse that occurred between 1988 and 1996. The alleged victims were between 9 and 13 years old at the time.

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

Six witnesses have testified in the trial, as well as some of their parents. Four other men whose claims fall outside the statute of limitations have also addressed the court, but it is up to the jurors whether their testimony can be used as evidence.

Defense attorney Doron Weinberg has stressed that the alleged victims' memory of events should be questioned because of the amount of time between when the alleged crimes took place and when they came forward with their claims.

Ayres was president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry from 1993 to 1995. He was arrested in April 2007 and has been free on $750,000 cash bail.

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