REDWOOD CITY — It has been more than 18 months since authorities arrested the once-prominent San Mateo child psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres on suspicion of molesting many of his preadolescent patients, and prosecutors and family members of alleged victims are increasingly frustrated by the ongoing delay of the child abuse trial.

Ayres' defense attorney is expected to appear in San Mateo County Superior Court today to argue a motion to delay the trial yet again.

Ayres is facing allegations he molested seven preadolescent patients.

Doron Weinberg, whom Ayres hired shortly after his arrest in April 2007, has filed a motion requesting the delay of a pretrial conference scheduled today and the postponement of a January jury trial which has already been rescheduled twice.

The reason for the delay is the defense attorney's involvement in another high-profile criminal case, the murder trial of pop music producer Phil Spector in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

But the San Mateo County District Attorney's Office will file a counter-motion requesting that the pretrial conference proceed today as scheduled and urging a Superior Court judge to reschedule the jury trial date as soon as Weinberg concludes his involvement in the Spector trial, which is in recess until 2009.

"This case is dragging on longer than the average case of this nature," Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said. "We've had frustration voiced to us (by the families of Ayres' alleged victims), and we agree... it is very frustrating.


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Ayres' trial was initially delayed because of the former child psychiatrist's poor health — he was treated last year for prostate cancer — and later because of a protracted legal battle over a motion filed by his defense attorney to suppress all evidence acquired by search warrants that gave investigators access to Ayres' patient files.

The defense motion was ultimately denied and an appeals court recently rejected an appeal. As for Ayres' health, no further court filings regarding the former child psychiatrist's prostate cancer have been filed since February.

But Ayres' trial will once again be delayed by his defense attorney's unavailability for trial in January, and prosecutors say they have no recourse but to accept the further delay as part and parcel of the criminal justice system.

"(Ayres' defense attorney) is in the middle of a murder trial, and there's nothing we can do about that," Wagstaffe said, explaining that the best outcome prosecutors can hope for would be that Ayres' jury trial, currently scheduled for Jan. 5, take place as soon as possible in 2009.

But for those whom Ayres is accused of molesting and their families, the additional deferment throws more salt on their wounds.

"He's out there in the community living his life, avoiding trial and avoiding responsibility for what he's done," said Carol Abrams, whose son Steve Abrams was a patient of Ayres in the 1970s. Her son Steve Abrams sued the child psychiatrist in 2003, saying that Ayres used the ruse of medical examinations as an opportunity to molest him.

Ayres, who was released on a $750,000 bail bond last year, is accused by Carol Abrams of "paying his attorney to delay the trial with funds from the so-called treatment of our children."

"I'm not saying to judge him before there's a trial," she added. "But I'm saying a trial needs to take place. That's all we're asking — that he be tried."

Her son, now 44, said the trial of his former child psychiatrist would allow him to close a chapter on a painful period of his life, which he says continues to affect his emotional well-being.

"I would just like to get to this point and get this behind me. I just want to move on with my life," Steve Abrams said. "I want to see him up on the (witness) stand answering some questions — that's what I'd like to see."

But Ayres' right to a fair trial is more important than rushing to justice, according to prosecutors.

"The rights of the accused are paramount in the criminal justice system during the preconviction stage and will take precedence over the rights of the victims for quick closure," Wagstaffe said.

The prosecutor added: "The first time I meet with a victim's family in a murder case or in a complicated high profile case with multiple victims, I tell them to be prepared for a long grind. We can expect that this is a case that will not go through in as quick a fashion as you would want it to."

District Attorney's Office officials said they have spoken to several dozen men who say they were abused by Ayres. But only seven fall within the state's statute of limitations on molestation crimes, which requires that charges be brought before the accuser turns 29 or that the alleged crime occurred after Jan. 1, 1988.

Weinberg is expected to appear in court at 8:45 a.m. today to argue his motion to delay a pretrial conference and the setting of a jury trial.

Reach Michael Manekin at 650-348-4331 or mmanekin@bayareanewsgroup.com.