Friday, June 26, 2009

The Trial: Week Four, Day Four

We have heard that child psychiatrist Dr. Lynn Ponton will be testifying today. People who are following this case should know that Dr. Ponton evaluated Steve Abrams for his civil suit. She believed Abrams' story implicitly. By law, a mandated reporter must alert authorities of a suspected incident of abuse. Dr. Ponton did the right thing and alerted about Ayres' molestation of Steve Abrams to the California Medical Board in 2004.
Dr. Ponton told the San Francisco Chronicle in 2007 that after she filed the molestation complaint about Dr. Ayres to the Medical Board that Ayres retaliated against her by lodging a counter complaint about her to the California Medical Board. He denied this to the paper. But we know better.
Here's the story: "Retired Child Psychiatrist Was Never Far From Controversy"
We have heard that one of Ayres' medical colleagues and a supporter- about the only one left- angrily confronted Dr. Ponton at a medical meeting just a few weeks ago for filing the abuse report to the Medical Board. This doctor - a psychiatrist- told Ponton that she had ruined Ayres' life because she dared to do the right thing by trying to get a predator off the street. It's very worrisome to us that a psychiatrist is more concerned about her crony than the lives of the victims Ayres has ruined. We won't give her name, but enterprising readers of this blog need only go to Google and look for a letter that this doctor wrote in defense of Dr. Ayres in 2006 to the San Mateo County Times. Since the witness list is sealed, we have no way of knowing if this psychiatrist will be a character witness for the defense. But it certainly seems to us that her angry confrontation with Dr. Ponton at the medical meeting could almost be construed as witness intimidation.
What is tragic is that many medical professionals had talked among themselves for years that they believed Ayres was molesting boys. Four years ago, a mother of a victim told her former psychiatrist, Dr. Al Rainieri that Ayres had molested her son. Dr. Rainieri told her that he wasn't surprised to hear the news. He had suspected Ayres had been abusing boys for years but didn't feel "it was his place" to report him. Dr. Rainieri committed suicide not long afterwards.
In June 2007, after Ayres was arrested, members of the San Mateo Citizens Review Panel convened to investigate why San Mateo County had ignored the complaints of victims and other red flags for forty years. Two lawyers on the panel received information that a number of doctors knew Ayres was molesting boys, but instead of reporting him, they just stopped referring boys to him. They have names. It is a crime for a mandated reporter not to report suspected incidents of abuse, and we know of at least four doctors who knew what was going on and did not report abuse. We know that the California Medical Board has some of these names. Unfortunately, time has run out to prosecute these doctors. We are not lawyers here, but we do know that the law gives only a very small window of time to prosecute mandated reporters who fail to report abuse.
We also want to say a shout out to San Bruno therapist Fran Acciardi, who in the mid 1990s ,when a juvenile client of hers told her that Ayres was making him take off his clothes and that he was "creeped out" by it. Acciardi and another therapist were more than creeped out - they were alarmed. They reported to Childrens Services that Ayres was undressing the boy and that since he had just been examined by his own pediatrician, there was no medical need for it. Childrens Services shrugged and said there was nothing they could do - because you know- Ayres was a doctor.

We have done our own informal survey on the issue of child psychiatrists examining boys in sessions. We have spoken with child psychiatrists who are even older than Dr. Ayres and they are aghast at the suggestion that any child psychiatrist would touch a child in the therapeutic setting. We have probably talked to oh, at least 65 child psychiatrists from around this country, ranging in age from 30 to 85 and not one said that they have ever touched a child during the sessions.
So far, the only child psychiatrists we've found who touched boys during therapy are currently serving time in state prisons.
Dr. Lynn Ponton, San Francisco child psychiatrist has been on the stand all morning. Ponton, who is in her fifties, but looks twenty years younger is a small woman with long flowing blonde hair. Though she may look like she would blow over in the wind, this woman is as sturdy as they come. Dr. Ponton does not take any guff and she doesn't fold. We suspect that Weinberg underestimated her entirely. He probably thought she would wilt but as the morning went on Dr. Ponton got stronger and stronger.
At one point during Ponton's testimony, Weinberg went into a big snit and called for a sidebar. The jury left. He complained that he didn't have all the notes for the Ponton testimony and that he wasn't prepared while the prosecutor told the judge that he had all the notes for months.
We were happythat even the preternaturally nice Freeman finally appeared to get irked with Weinberg and overruled his objection.
One by one, the prosecutor offers up the testimony of the victims and Ponton says there is no medical reason for Ayres to have touched any of the boys' genitals. (Duh !!!!!!) She says that most of the victims were having problems at school and there was no reason for a genital exam. (Duh!!!!)
Ayres looked very glum and deathly pale as his nemesis, Lynn Ponton listed the Red Flags that point to molestation.
Those Red Flags sure seem obvious to us:
1) the doctor only looks at the genitals.
2) Repeated requests to examine genitals
3)Sharing photos of naked children ( Hmm. sounds like victim Greg H. might have something to say on this experience)
4) Making erotic comments to the child during the medical exam.
5) When the doctor tells the child after the abuse that they need to keep a secret, and when he tells the parents not to ask the child what took place in the therapy.
As Ponton testified about how to detect signs that sexual abuse is going on we found ourselves thinking back to those guidelines that Ayres put out for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry with other child psychiatrists in the 1990s,called "Practice Parameters for Children Who May Have Been Sexually Abused."
We think about how Ayres must have been laughing at his earnest colleagues as they worked to put out a paper for the Academy that could really help kids. We imagine he must have felt quite contemptuous of them- those silly child psychiatrists, for actually trying to help kids who were sexually abused.
Weinberg did try to show the good doctor that he was getting his money's worth, by throwing up lots of objections. Way too many sidebars for our taste.
Tried as he could, he couldn't make a dent in Ponton.
One strange occurrence. When Ponton told Weinberg on the stand that she was a "stickler for words," Robert Ayres laughed and shook his head.
During testimony, Robert Ayres always sits on the very edge of his chair and bolt upright ( in this position he reminds us of an exclamation mark.) He never ever leans back in his chair. Perhaps he thinks that might signal defeat if he did.
We're not sure when we can write up this afternoon's notes with Dr. Ponton, but Caligirl over at Sprocket is in the courtroom with us today, so be sure to check out her report later over at
Finally, one cool thing about Dr. Ponton that you won't learn from today's testimony. Her daughter had a film that was shown at the Sundance Film Festival this year!
As Weinberg and the prosecutor said they are ahead of schedule, they broke for the day early.
At about 3:25 pm the good doctor and his dutiful son Robert left the courthouse while Solveig had gone ahead to get the car.
We think body language experts would find the interaction between father and son to be very telling. Robert, wearing a fetching newsboy cap on his head (we don't know what he does for a day job, but we do know he's acted and directed in plays in Chicago ) walked awkwardly beside Ayres. There was so much space and distance between them you could have sailed an ocean liner between the two. They behave as if they're not related at all and they're just meeting for the first time. Ayres looked imperious as he pushed his walker next to his son. We feel some empathy for Robert, in spite of his defense of the good doctor. He is definitely a man in need of a father and we are sorry he didn't get one.
We are wondering if he is attending the trial more out of loyalty to his mother. Mother and son appear to be much closer. We are even starting from time to time to feel some empathy for Solveig. Her world is crumbling, and she knows it. It must be very difficult but at the same time we know that she has not said nice things about the victims in the past. We feel that she is ferociously clinging to her denial with every last ounce of energy that she has. It must be exhausting.


  1. I think the testimony of Dr. Ponton will have a huge impact on the jury.

    Her work at UCSF and the many articles she has written far out weigh any distinguished award Ayres ever received.

    Ayres only got an award because the court system (Diaz, Jerry Hill DA) everybody was having a little tea party.

    The grand jury just stated Carole Groom should not have been APPOINTED to Jerry Hill's vacant supervisor seat. Where does Carole Groom work...oh Mills Peninsula Health Services......

    See how they are all linked....

    Apparently our friend Michael Stogner wanted the position, but the board appointed Carole Groom to ride the gravy train!

    I wonder when that choosen one who I find incompetent will get her acheivement award?

  2. I went and found that letter to the editor that the medical colleague wrote about Dr. Ayres.

    It was written by Dr. Etta Bryant and it is called "In Defense of Dr. Ayres".

    Shame on Etta for trying to intimidate Dr. Lynn Ponton because she did the right thing.

  3. Only 3 of the 4 Board members voted for Carole Groom. Rich Gordon wanted the special election.

    The 3 that voted for Carole just happened to be members of the Service League of San Mateo County.
    Jerry Hill is also a member.....Rich Gordon is not.

    Welcome to San Mateo County

    Michael G. Stogner

  4. I knew she would be an exceptional witness.....

    Thank you Dr. Ponton!

    Home run for the prosection with Dr. Ponton....

  5. I have not discovered any empathy for Solvieg. As the last news article said 47 years married to the beast! She stayed with him through the civil trial, agreed to sell the house, drives the beast to and fro, wined and dined with the beast at Kincaid's and Il Fornaio, went everywhere with him while out on bail, until this moment of trial brought reality to the front door Solveig hasn't had a care in the world, GleeClub rudeness, blogging about portly people and such. It's going to take a lot more than seeing her sit in court to hear the testimony for me to have any empathy for Solveig. In fact, I doubt if I will ever feel any empathy for Solveig.

  6. I'm closing comments on this thread. No problems with content.. just want to make it easier to manage; feel free to continue discussion on the more recent blog entries.