April 23, 2007

Lesson to abusers: Target socially disempowered

In a case that highlights the hypocrisy of get-tough-on-crime policies supposedly driven by sympathy for victims, the juvenile court system continued to send boys to a prominent psychiatrist for at least 16 years after he was first accused of child molestation.

Juvenile court judges continued to send new victims to Dr. William Ayres until 2003, long after the first of multiple complaints against him by boys and their parents. As of the most recent tally, at least 37 men have accused Ayres of molesting them as boys dating back almost four decades.

Economic class disparities between the accusers and the accused likely influenced the failure to prosecute. After all, whom should one believe? A prominent child psychiatrist and former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry? Or a disempowered youth who seems destined for state prison?

“You have a prominent psychiatrist saying, 'I didn't do it,' and a troubled youth who's seeing a psychiatrist," Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan told the San Francisco Chronicle.

According to the Chronicle article, Ayres might never have been prosecuted without the chance intervention of a freelance writer from New York.

For more media coverage of the Ayres case, go to the blog: http://psychwatch.blogspot.com/.