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Child Psychiatrist Charged With Molesting

More than three dozen former patients have accused a prominent child psychiatrist of molesting them, a prosecutor said Friday in persuading a judge to jail the man and triple his bail.

But CBS station KPIX correspondent Linda Yee reports some cases have passed the statute of limitations.

San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan said she expects to add charges next week alleging that Dr. William Ayres molested four more boys who had been in his care, bringing the total to nine cases that can be prosecuted.

Ayres, already charged with molesting five boys, was jailed Friday after a judge raised his bail from $250,000 to $750,000.

McKowan had asked for $1.8 million bail, alleging that the doctor had a "30-year history of pedophiliac behavior."

She said 37 men had accused Ayres, a former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, of molesting them since 1969.

Ayres was a highly regarded child psychiatrist who had hundreds of troubled children referred to him by the juvenile courts and child welfare agencies in the 1960s, reports Yee.

The statute of limitations for such crimes is 10 years, or until the victim turns 28 years old. Ayres, 75, retired from his practice last year.

Ayres is currently charged with 18 counts of lewd and lascivious behavior, but that number is expected to grow, McKowan told the court Friday.

The doctor declined questions from reporters Thursday as he walked slowly in court, leaning heavily on a cane and wearing a wrinkled gray suit.

A defense lawyer who stood with him Friday said Ayres was in ill health, suffering from an aneurysm, back pain and gout, among other ailments.

The prominent psychiatrist had been honored in 2002 by the San Mateo board of supervisors with a lifetime achievement award for "his tireless effort to improve the lives of children and adolescents."

But suspicions have dogged him since 2003, when one former patient sued, accusing him of molesting him under the guise of a medical exam in the 1970s. Last August, police obtained Ayres' list of 800 private clients and began the search for potential victims, prompting the current prosecution, McKowan said.

McKowan said cases against pedophiles can be difficult to prove.

"I've been doing sexual assault long enough to know that people in a position of power who engage in this kind of conduct are very, very smart people who know how to pick their victims well," she said.

"The fact that we have so many victims is what gives us corroboration," she said. "That's what gives us a provable case."