" I am taking responsibility for my life. I think Dr. Ayres should take responsibility for his life."
-- Victim Steve S, an in-statute victim who saw his old predator Dr. Ayres in a holding cell at Maguire Correctional Center just after he was arrested in 2007.
July 14, 2007: Final day of closing arguments.
After a number of days of wearing her old peacock blue blazer, Solveig broke out a new jacket - a bright fire engine red. At 8:45 am, for some bizarre reason, she staked out a position in the middle of the hall on the second floor as if she were a restaurant hostess. She greeted the mother of victim Steve S as she passed by with a wave and a hello. We think this is just an intimidation tactic taken from her husband's playbook. (Remember when he greeted the mother of Steve Abrams with "Isn't it a lovely day?") When Victoria Balfour passed her by, Solveig said nothing but just looked at her with a smile that was attempting to be defiant but just looked sad. Neither Solveig nor Ayres has ever said anything to Balfour during this trial.
Court started a few minutes late because Weinberg was stuck in traffic. In the end it started at 9:13 am.
Unlike yesterday, when there were about 15 supporters of Ayres in attendance, today there was only an elderly gent with thinning hair; the two plump biker chicks - who continued to work at their crossword puzzle through both Weinberg's arguments and the prosecutor's rebuttal (why on earth were they there, if they weren't interested in what was going on? we wondered) and Creepy Guy in a striped shirt with Choking Girl. Creepy Guy had something in his right ear that was either an earplug or cotton. For much of the prosecutor's rebuttal he donned very thick heavy shades that looked like protective glasses. Was this a case of see-no-evil, hear-no-evil, blocking out reality? We did notice that when Weinberg spoke, he took off his dark shades and resumed his old vigorous head nodding that made him appear as if he were in a tent revival meeting.
An older couple was sitting on the victims' supporters side. This was their second day in the courtroom. The older woman was reading a religious pamphlet. Although they were quite circumspect, after chatting with them, we gleaned that they knew an out of statute victim who was not asked to testify. The older man said that there was some disagreement within his family as to whether Ayres was guilty, but the more we talked with them, it appeared that the older woman was on the side of the supporters and at a break she complained to us that Weinberg contradicted himself.
Although we are not Scientologists and never will be, we welcomed a nice Asian man who has been blogging about the Ayres case on www.siliconvalleyrights. com. He told us he didn't dislike all psychiatrists - "only abusive ones" Hey, we're on board with him! He was a nice guy and we appreciate that he came.
All right, to Weinberg's closing arguments. Weinberg -sadly but predictably immediately started to trash the victims.
On Eric B, Weinberg said indignantly, " This should be a question: For 17 years after he said he was molested he never said anything.... He's had three different versions about what happened. ( Weinberg didn't mention that Eric B ultimately said he was masturbated only once, instead of twice, thereby downsizing his damning testimony)He said, "Is Eric lying about this? This is a serious question. His testimony is based on inconsistencies. His credibility is absolutely zero."
As Weinberg trashed poor Eric, we noticed that not a single juror was taking notes. Then Weinberg went on to somehow imply that because Eric was molested by a notorious child molester named Ken Casey( who is now serving time in state prison) that somehow this means that he couldn't have been molested by Ayres. At least we think that's what his argument was about.. it was too confusing for us to grasp the gist.
Then on to Steven S: Just before he lit into Steve S, Weinberg - as he did before he trashed every victim- took a long sip of water or coffee from a cup. We wonder whether it was laced with booze.
Weinberg then launched into the tried and true defense attorney tactic of stating some information that makes the person look bad, and then saying "But that's not the issue." In other words, get it all out there and then pretend that he's not taking responsibility for saying the bad stuff."
As in "Steve's mom told him he was taking him to Ayres because of his violence. But that's not the issue."
"Steve S. has been outside the law. But that's not the issue."
"Steve S pushed a kid off a swing and knocked him unconscious. He doesn't remember this."
Accordingly, Weinberg somehow made the leap because he didn't remember the incident on the swing that Steve S "was creating a fantasy, a fabrication. When Steve S said that Ayres took him into a room and fondled him, you know that's not true."
At this point, we looked over at Creepy Guy and he was nodding his head like a Bobble Head.
Weinberg went on to say with more indignation that because Steve had thought Ayres had molested him when he was 8 instead of age 10 that this was more indication that he could not be trusted.
But the low point was when he attacked poor Steve for finding the courage to come forward at a group home in Petaluma when he was 15 to say he had been molested by Ayres. Weinberg said that Steve S only did that "for sympathy. Everyone was forcing themselves on poor Steve the victim." You could just sense the rage in the parents of the victims in the courtroom as he was saying this, though Steve S's mom remarkably kept her cool. If it were us, we would have stood up and screamed. Especially when Weinberg called Steve S "enormously dishonest, violent and an extremely troubled man.
Then it was on to victim Orion, who was trashed just as bad. Orion broke down in tears many times on the witness stand which Weinberg cavalierly dismissed as a "Dramatic moment, if you will, in court."
Weinberg went on to say that it made no sense for Ayres to molest Orion on the very first visit. Our thought is, Why not? He tried on the first time with other out of statute victims. Weinberg mocked Orion for testifying that Ayres said "This is our little secret" (Actually this is a classic pedophile line) and "Remember the drill." ( Actually we know of a 55 year old out of statute victim who recalls Ayres saying the very same thing to him. During the eight or so times that victim was asked to take off his clothes, Ayres would tell that victim, "You know the drill.")
It got worse. Weinberg said of Orion:"It was an impressive performance. I grant you that. Orion substitutes drama for logic, truth and information. The doctor was in love with Orion? He said,"Did you miss me? ' ( We believe that the doctor was in love with Orion.)
So, as for Eric B, Steve S, and Orion, Weinberg dismissed their stories as having "inconsistencies, improbabilities and outright fabrications."
The Weinberg proceeded to blurt out Steve' S's full name and the full name of Scott E's mother. When one courtroom observer angrily shook her head, the very attentive female juror with the very blue eyes watched her carefully. We think this may be a good sign.
As for the four out -of-statute victims, Weinberg didn't spend all that much time on them. He criticized Peter V for not talking about the molestation for 22 years. He said that Dana P said that when Ayres told him about a female vagina it wasn't something he already didn't know(What's that got to do with whether or not Ayres molested him, we wanted to know.)
Weinberg blasted victim Thomas C. as a "very angry young man" who was adopted and jealous of his biological brother. Again, we ask what on earth has that got to do with the fact that Ayres molested him?
His argument for dismissing Greg H. was the lamest as all. He said that he didn't know why Greg got the physical exam but because there was a legitimate medical reason for every other boy's physical, the same must hold true for Greg.
By this point, burly guy juror in the front was listening with arms crossed. Meanwhile, the parents of the victims in the courtroom were about to explode with rage. But they kept their cool.
As Weinberg wrapped up, he used that old lawyer's trick by dropping his voice so that people would have to strain to listen to him.
He was done by 10:25 am. It appeared to us that Robert Ayres- whose eyes were very red- might have been crying. He looked very sad.
Then it was the prosecutor's turn. And she let it rip. Her folksy energetic voice woke everyone up after Weinberg's droning.
We liked that she started right in by mentioning that on the previous day Weinberg had mentioned "the Salem Witch Trials," "People kidnapped by Aliens" and the McMartin Preschool case. Only the prosecutor kept calling it the "Martin " School case but that was OK.
McKowan just made a ton of sense. She asked why on earth any of the victims would come forward and tell a roomful of strangers that Ayres had molested them - to no benefit to themselves. Sure, Orion may be dramatic, she said, but he's not filing a lawsuit and has nothing to gain by coming forward."This is not a fun experience for the victims," she said.
At this point Weinberg's face turned lobster red. It was redder than Solveig's jacket. It stayed this way until the very end of the prosecutor's rebuttal. When he then proceeded to puff out his lips, a mother of a victim made the astute observation that he looked like a fish.
The most powerful moment of the rebuttal came when she spoke about Steve S. She talked about how Steve S talked about his abuse in the group home because he felt safe there. Then she talked about how he messed up when he got out - how he said he "blew it. I pissed it all away."
When the prosecutor reminded the jury that Steve said he wanted to testify because he wanted to take responsibility for his life and that he felt that "Ayres should take responsibility for his life" many of the parents of victims in the courtroom were in tears. Steve' mom could not resist: she gave a thumb's up for her son in absentia.
And Steve S's mom, we are happy to report got the last word of the day. After the jury left to deliberate at 11:30 am, Steve S' s mom expressed anger to supporters of the victims that Weinberg had blurted out her son's surname. So, as Weinberg left the court and was heading for his car, Steve S's mom walked up to Weinberg and told him off. "I am angry that you said my son's full name," she said.
"I know you are," Weinberg said. But he did not apologize.
"Everything we said in court was the truth," she said to Weinberg as he scuttled away.
"That's how you feel," said the defense attorney.
We want to thank Steve S's mom for having the guts to tell it like it is.