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Pedophile Psychiatrist Made Famous by Public Television

John on April 7, 2007 at 1:54 pm

When Ted Haggard was accused of having sexual contact with a gay prostitute, he stepped down from leadership of his church and from the National Association of Evangelicals in disgrace. It was one of the biggest stories of the year, covered extensively by every major paper and news magazine.

Yesterday, child psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres, former president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, was arrested on multiple counts of sexually abusing children. Dr. Ayres has a long and distinguished history as an expert in child psychiatry. In 2002 he was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his work by the Bay Area commission on children and families. He has continued seeing young patients for the county until as recently as 2003, despite complaints of abuse going back to 1987:

Hogue, now a resident of Santa Rosa, was one of the men who approached the police in 2005 with allegations of molestation. He told the Times last year that his school district sent him to Ayres in 1985 when he was 15, after he wrote a note to a classmate that was misinterpreted as a suicide threat.

In a police report, Hogue said Ayres once pulled down his pants and touched his penis, saying he wanted to see how “developed” he was. Hogue said he told his mother what happened, and she informed her therapist, who made a report to the county’s Child Protective Services in 1987.

According to the CPS report, the case was referred to San Mateo police, who deemed the complaint unfounded. Hogue showed the original CPS report to police when they re-interviewed him in the fall of 2005.

Hogue filed a complaint against Ayres with the Medical Board of California in 2005. It’s unclear as to what happened to that report.

But its really the national back story that interests me here. Dr. Ayres became a star in 1968 when he wrote and narrated a 15 part TV special titled “The Time of Your Life.” The special was produced by KQED San Francisco and distributed to schools nationwide as part of a new sex-ed curriculum. Here’s how the Examiner summarizes the conflict:

In 1968, local school districts became ideological battlefields in a debate about whether sex education was a proper subject for school. In few places were the arguments as loud as in San Mateo County, where parents boycotted school bond issues and filed a lawsuit to keep “family life” education out of the classroom. And at the center of the debate was child psychiatrist William Ayres, a nationally quoted expert portrayed in many articles as a beacon of reason, accuracy and science.

Ayres achieved national fame in 1968, after he co-scripted and helped narrate “The Time of Your Life,” a 13-part television series produced by KQED for use with fourth- through sixth-grade students that teaches the broad topic of family life, including candid sexual discussion. It was praised by educators and doctors, according to San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Chronicle newspaper articles of the time, but a number of parents objected loudly, declaring it “pornographic.” Ayres himself said the series was helpful to children.

“For many years, kids have been coming into my office knowing some of the ‘facts of life,’ but with many facts left out. They wind up being bewildered, with a great many concerns and anxieties resulting from their lack of knowledge,” he told The New York Times in 1969.

School officials at the time praised Ayres’ approach.

But as the article notes, even Ayres’ supporters had some hesitation over the explicitness of some of the sex information being presented to 10 year olds:

“Our only disagreement is on the depth he went into on masturbation and the details of human intimacy,” Assistant County Superintendent of Schools Armin Weems said in August 1968.

In 1969, Time magazine ran a story on the sex ed controversy which noted:

Opponents of sex education raise a wide variety of charges—some plausible, some not—against the courses. At the lowest level, the attacks consist of nothing more than innuendoes that the teachers involved are degenerates eager to seduce youngsters into a life of blatant immorality.

As it turns out, conservative parents being denigrated by Time weren’t far off the mark. A NY Times article dated September 1969 offers a glimpse at the controversy when the series arrived in New York. Richard Mayer, director of “school services” had this to say:

“Teachers who want to use the series will not be required to take all of the programs,” Mr. Meyer said. “However I want to point out that the programs were designed by people who were very sensitive to the way 10-year olds think and react. Experience has shown that adults tend to bring their own hangups to programs of this kind while children accept the material as just another piece of information.”

Again, it’s a battle between science and ignorance. The message is: Trust the experts. Trust the psychiatrist. Don’t be reactionary. That was then and this is now:

One alleged victim, a 48-year-old electronics technician in the San Diego area, said in an interview that Ayres gave him a physical examination during one session and fondled him. Ayres then asked him if he masturbated, the man said; the man said that he replied that was “none of his business.”

None of your business. I think that’s exactly what parents were trying to tell liberal educators back in 1968 when Ayres enlightened vision of child sexuality was being transmitted to thousands, if not millions, of children nationwide.

Things haven’t improved much either. Today, we have judges telling us that parents don’t have the right to control sexually explicit material given to their children. In fact, any parent who interferes in educators efforts to teach 6 year olds about lesbianism is a bad citizen.

So to summarize Dr. Ayres’ story:

  • Child Psychiatrist and President of American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Lifetime achievement awardee in 2002
  • National crusader for enlightened views on child sexuality
  • Project funded by Public Television made him a star in 1968
  • Later viewed by millions of 9-11 year old kids nationwide
  • Suspicion of abuse submitted to CPS authorities 20 years ago was ignored.
  • He’s a pedophile who may have offended dozens or even hundreds of children.

Sounds like quite a story to me. Will it be covered 1/2 as much as Ted Haggard or Mark Foley?

No chance.

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