May 30, 2009

Trial for psychiatrist William Ayres, accused of molestation, begins

By Elizabeth Pfeffer, San Mateo County Times

May 30, 2009

After two years of events worthy of a prime time legal drama, embattled child psychiatrist Dr. William Ayres will finally stand trial Monday. He is accused of molesting seven of his young male patients.

Ayres, 77, was a prominent member of the San Mateo medical community and served as president of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

He also performed physical examinations and inspected the genitalia of many of his juvenile psychiatric patients.

The once well-respected doctor was arrested in April 2007 and charged with 14 counts of lewd and lascivious acts with three victims, ages 9, 11 and 12 at the time of the alleged abuse.

The case's publicity brought forward four more accusers, bringing the number of Ayres' felony molestation counts to 20. He was freed on $750,000 bail.

The shocking story made international headlines, and the trial beginning Monday is expected to draw more public attention.

"We are exceedingly pleased that we are now on the doorstep of getting justice," San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said Friday.

A trial judge will be selected by Judge James Ellis in San Mateo County Superior Court in Redwood City on Monday morning.

Wagstaffe predicted jury selection and pretrial motions would take two weeks, but that the entire trial would last eight to 10 weeks.

Ayres practiced for decades in San Mateo County, seeing patients referred to him through local school districts and the county's juvenile court, in addition to his private practice.

His defense attorney, Doron Weinberg, has argued that physical examinations by psychiatrists are routine.

He previously told MediaNews that Ayres acted responsibly and that physical examinations were part of his "therapeutic model."

The lead prosecutor, San Mateo County Deputy District Attorney Melissa McKowan, said at Ayres' initial arraignment there were assertions spanning 30 years.

Police first began investigating him in 2002 after being told by a man who was a patient of Ayres in the 1970s that the doctor had molested him on multiple occasions. But the case had to be dropped after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling effectively changed the statute of limitations on such cases.

Childhood molestation can only be brought by victims who are younger than 29 or whose alleged abuse occurred after Jan. 1, 1998.

The San Mateo Police Department reopened the case in March 2006, at the urging of a friend of one of the victims to seek out other possible victims who fell within the legal statute of limitation.

That friend was New York-based freelance writer Victoria Balfour, who made it a personal crusade to unearth possible molestation victims of Ayres and help authorities build a case against him.

A search warrant was executed for Ayres' records, and a list was compiled of more than 800 patients.

Prosecutors believe they know of at least 39 former patients of Ayres who had been molested by him, but most did not fall under the state's statute of limitations.

After seven months of exhaustive and painful interviews with patients on the list, police took Ayres into custody at his San Mateo home on April 5, 2007.

Ayres' medical license was suspended, and has since expired.

On April 28, 2007, the child psychiatrist accused of molesting dozens of pre-adolescent boys in San Mateo County for decades declared his innocence of the multiple counts against him.

Now, more than two years later, the once-prominent child psychiatrist's fate will likely be left to a jury.

Weinberg was unavailable for comment about his defense arguments on Friday because he was in Los Angeles with another client, music producer Phil Spector, who received 19 years to life for killing actress Lana Clarkson.

In fact, the Spector murder contributed to the delay of Ayres' trial.

The first major setback came in February 2008 when Ayres was diagnosed with prostate cancer and a judge postponed the start of his trial from March 10 to June 23 of that year, in order for him to seek immediate treatment.

A month later, a state appeals court ruled that Ayres deserved a new hearing on a defense motion that could have destroyed the prosecution's case against him.

Weinberg planned to try to suppress evidence gathered from Ayres' patient files on the basis that the warrant violated the state's psychotherapist-patient privilege, lacked probable cause and permitted constitutionally prohibited searches.

The motion was ultimately dismissed but a further delay came when San Mateo County Superior Court Judge John Runde unexpectedly recused himself from the case.

Both prosecuting and defense attorneys were baffled by the event, and a new trial was set for January 2009. That date, however, conflicted with the scheduling of the Spector murder trial in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Ayres was known nationally as one of the country's top child psychiatrists; he was just as well respected on the Peninsula where he ran a private practice for decades.

He was probably one of fewer than 10 San Mateo County psychiatrists with a subspecialty in child and adolescent psychiatry, according to San Mateo County Medical Association Executive Director Sue Malone.

He told colleagues he performed medical examinations because that was the way he had been trained. He had done his residency in the early 1960s at the Judge Baker Center in Boston, one of the country's premier centers for the study of child psychology.

While most child psychiatrists admit that administering physical exams to patients is uncommon today, many professionals defend the practice as another instrument in a psychiatrist's toolbox.

A spokeswoman from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, of which Ayres was president for more than a decade, told MediaNews that performing physicals on patients in a psychiatric setting can be "consistent with good medical practice."

Wagstaffe said he expected attorneys on both sides to present expert opinions on the matter.

While the passing of time between charges and trial can often damage prosecutors' cases, Wagstaffe said all their witnesses were ready to go.

"This case is more than ripe for trial," he said.

May 20, 2009

Dentist Scott Henning Pleads Not Guilty on Molestation Charges

Scott Henning

May 20, 2009

Sonora, CA - Dr. Scott Henning has pleaded not guilty to four felony charges stemming from alleged inappropriate contact with a 15 year old girl.

The Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office served a warrant at the 46-year-old dentist's residence and place of business two weeks ago, and he was arrested and taken to County Jail.

Court documents indicate that some of the charges stem from Henning allegedly taking inappropriate pictures or film of a minor who was modeling. The alleged offenses occurred between September 1st and October 30th of last year.

He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 1 at 1:15pm in Department Four of Tuolumne County Superior Court.

May 15, 2009

Paul Gould accused of inappropriately touching 2 teen girls

By Will Greenlee,

May 15, 2009

ST. LUCIE COUNTY, FL - A 55-year-old man accused of inappropriately touching two teen girls and showing them nude photos was arrested, according to records released Friday and a sheriff's official.

Paul Maurice Gould, of the 6600 block of Hulda Drive, faces two counts of lewd or lascivious molestation and a single count of transfer or display of obscenity to a minor.

One of the victims is 15 and the other 14, a sheriff's official said.

One of the victims disclosed the incidents after her mother questioned her about missing school. She said she skipped school and went to Gould's house with a friend to hang out.

One of the girls reportedly was using the computer as the other sat on the floor. Gould allegedly started tickling one of the girls. He continued doing do after she told him to stop, holding her feet and hands.

She said Gould was mad at her so she gave him a hug and he grabbed her backside.

Arrested Thursday, Gould also allegedly touched the other girl's chest and backside and showed them nude photos of a woman.

One of the girls said the two of them skipped school before and went to Gould's home. She said Gould started to touch her leg before moving to a private area. She said he pushed both girls in a lake behind his home and gave them robes to put on while he dried their clothes.

Four arrested on sex charges in separate incidents

By Austin L. Miller, (Ocala, FL)

May 15, 2009

Sheriff's detectives made four arrests Wednesday on separate and unrelated charges of unlawful sexual behavior.

According to officials, at about 1:40 a.m., detectives arrested 26-year-old Santos Morestant and charged him lewd and lascivious battery on a 13-year-old girl.

The girl told authorities she called Morestant on April 30 and asked him to pick her up at her home. She said she met Morestant on MySpace and they had been e-mailing each other for two months. The correspondence, according to officials, was sexual in nature.

After picking up the girl, Morestant took her to his home, where reportedly they had sex. The girl said she stayed at Morestant's home until May 2, when she decided to go home.

Detectives contacted Morestant at home and he agreed to be interviewed at the Sheriff's Office. He reportedly told officials he had sex with the girl, but thought she was 17 or 18.

Later, at 6:30 p.m., detectives arrested Manuel Suarez, 42, and charged him with sexual battery on a 21-year-old woman. The victim said she met Suarez about two months ago, and that on occasion they had gone out as friends.

On April 28, the woman said, they went out and she had too much to drink. While going to get something to eat, the woman said Suarez pulled his vehicle over and attempted to seduce her. She said they fought and he stopped.

Minutes later, the woman said, she passed out in the car and that when she woke up, Suarez was on top of her. He reportedly told her they had sex. The woman said her pants were down.

Detectives contacted Suarez, who lives in Jacksonville, and asked him to come in for an interview but reportedly never showed up. He was arrested Wednesday.

Later Wednesday, detectives arrested a 15-year-old boy accused of sodomizing his 6-year-old sister.

Detectives talked with the victim, who told them her brother had sex with her at their home.

The teen also told the officials he had sex with his sister, after which he was taken into custody, according to the report.

Officials also arrested 46-year-old Kenneth Elay Jackson and charged him with lewd and lascivious exhibition Wednesday.

A woman told detectives she and her 3-year-old daughter were at Orange Lake Park on Northwest 60th Avenue when a man approached and asked if she wanted to go home with him. When told no, the man, later identified as Jackson, exposed himself.

The woman said that while she was running from the park, the man was trying to pick up her daughter. She called authorities.

Officials located Jackson at his home. His sister-in-law told detectives he has schizophrenia and acts out when he's off his medication. But, the woman said, her brother-in-law has never acted like that before.

The victim identified Jackson as the man who exposed himself. He was then arrested.

May 13, 2009

Christopher Selfridge accused of molesting 12-year-old girl

By Brittany Lawonn,, Fargo, ND

May 13, 2009

A 22-year-old Fargo man is accused in Clay County District Court of repeatedly sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl.

Christopher Wayne Selfridge was arrested early Tuesday in Fargo on a first-degree criminal sexual conduct warrant filed in connection with the incidents, alleged to have occurred between October and December of last year.

Selfridge is scheduled to appear in Cass County District Court this morning regarding extradition to Clay County to face the felony charge.

A warrant for his arrest was filed Monday after the girl, now 13, talked to Moorhead police, according to court documents that detail the case:

The girl told police that the molestation began the first night that Selfridge came to live with her and her mother and happened almost every night thereafter.

She told police when Selfridge would come into her room at night and molest her she would pretend to be asleep hoping that he would go away.

The girl told her mother and her aunt about what was happening and her mother then confronted Selfridge, who denied touching the girl.

When the mother told him to move out, Selfridge put three belts together and said he was going to hang himself, telling the girl, "I'm sorry for everything I did to you."

He eventually left the home after the mother said she was going to call police.

The felony charge carries up to 30 years in prison.

May 12, 2009

Jaime Alvarado facing multiple child molestation charges

The Reporter, Vacaville, CA

May 12, 2009

A Dixon, CA, man facing multiple child molestation charges will return to Solano County Superior Court in two weeks.

Superior Court Judge William C. Harrison on Monday set 9 a.m. May 26 for a further readiness conference, possible retention of private defense counsel and scheduling of a preliminary hearing in the case of 42-year-old defendant Jaime Gene Alvarado of Dixon.

Alvarado is charged with engaging in lewd or lascivious conduct with children under 14 years of age, false imprisonment and communicating with minors for the purpose of engaging in lewd or lascivious behavior. According to Dixon police, he was arrested last year on suspicion of accosting three girls, 11 to 15 years old, at a Dixon apartment complex between March and September 2008.

Alvarado has pleaded not guilty to all charges and remains free on bail.

May 11, 2009

Prosecutors seek to keep Heath Miller in jail on sex charges until trial

Heath Miller

By Christina Denardo, Palm Beach Post

May 11, 2009

WEST PALM BEACH - Just months ago, the world knew Heath Miller as a popular band teacher who shot a home invader.

Now even that shooting is getting a second look, investigators said Monday, for any connections to a widening circle of girls and women who say Miller pressured them to have sex and then keep quiet about it.

Meanwhile, school records show that his principal turned him down for tenure at H.L. Watkins Middle last year, and prosecutors were moving to keep him in jail without bond because they say he represents a danger to the community.

"This is a case that has grown legs, to say the least," said Palm Beach County school police Detective Vinny Mintus, the lead investigator on the case.

Days after the Palm Beach County School District Police filed more than a dozen charges against Miller alleging he had sex with one student, raped another and fondled four others, several other alleged victims have come forward to say he fondled or had sex with them, authorities said.

Miller, who earlier this year fatally shot an intruder in his Wellington home, has been in the Palm Beach County Jail since his initial arrest in April after being accused of sexual assault with a student.

After Miller was arrested, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office got tips that the home-invasion shooting was related to the sex assault allegations. Investigators have not connected the 22-year-old man Miller shot and killed, Robert Rashard Tomlin, to any of Miller's alleged victims.

"If there is any information that comes forth, and it's viable information, we will follow up," said Sheriff's Detective Sgt. David Conklin.

School board police have yet to share names of the alleged victims with sheriff's homicide investigators. Even if Tomlin were found to be related to one of the girls, it wouldn't legally justify him in donning a mask, drawing a handgun and breaking into Miller's house in the middle of the night, Conklin said.

Miller, the school's band director, was charged with sexual battery after pulling one girl out of a reading class against her will and raping her in a band room, according to an arrest report. He was having sex with another student, as well as two teachers, according to his arrest affidavit. This week, prosecutors plan to file a motion to keep Miller, 35, in jail while he awaits trial. A hearing on the motion is expected on Friday.

Miller did not speak at a brief court appearance Monday morning. His attorney, Mark Wilenski, declined to comment, as did his wife. In an interview with detectives, Miller admitted to kissing a student but denied any other inappropriate contact with students.

Miller, who started working for the district in 2000, had never been disciplined or accused of misconduct.

In a review dated May 1, 2008, administrators wrote that Miller continued to improve the music program at the school and had "a very positive relationship with his students."

However, Watkins Principal Ann Wark had concerns about his ability to follow policy, procedures or ethics last year and recommended that he work at the school for one more year before being eligible for tenure. It is a rare move used only a handful of times each year. Wark could not be reached for comment today.

Raymond Hyatt charged in child molestation

By Nathan Donato-Weinstein, Granite Bay Press-Tribune, Roseville, CA

May 11, 2009

A Roseville man was arrested Saturday on suspicion of child molestation.

Raymond Earl Hyatt, 61, was booked into the Placer County Jail on charges of lewd or lascivious acts, sexual penetration with a foreign object and possession of obscene matter of a minor engaged in a sexual act, according to police reports.

The alleged child molestation was reported to police on April 22, according to police reports.

Police were tight-lipped about the case because it involves sexual abuse of minors.

A search of Placer County Superior Court records don’t reveal a previous criminal record for Hyatt, whose listed occupation is "retired." Efforts to contact family members or neighbors weren't successful. Hyatt was being held on $100,000 bail.

May 9, 2009

Ex-sex con Gerald Burbank held in molestation cases

By Ashley Gebb, Appeal-Democrat

May 9, 2009

A 63-year-old registered sex offender was in custody Friday after being arrested on suspicion of repeatedly molesting two girls during the last six years, Marysville, CA, police reported.

Gerald Allen Burbank was arrested without incident at his home in the 1900 block of Ramirez Street at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday. His arrest resulted from an investigation launched Wednesday when one of the girl's parents told police a molestation had taken place at Burbank's home, said Sgt. John Osbourn.

The girls are 12 and 13 years old. Burbank and both victims reportedly all knew each other, but Osbourn declined to state further details about the relationship to protect the girls' identities.

As far as police can tell the girls were abused individually, with repeated sexual abuse dating back at least six years or more, Osbourn said. The investigation is ongoing.

"We are interested in hearing from any potential victims," Osbourn said. "But we are not aware of any more at this time and don't suspect there are."

Burbank was booked into Yuba County Jail on two counts of felonious lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, and one count of felonious oral copulation with a child under the age of 14. He was held on $100,000 bail.

Burbank is a registered sex offender for a prior conviction of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under the age of 14, according to the State of California Department of Justice Registered Sex Offender Web site. Further details of his prior conviction were not immediately available.

There are 125 registered sex offenders living in the city, according to the Web site.

Marysville has a higher concentration of registered sex offenders than other areas, Osbourn said. The number of registered sex offenders creates an additional workload through registration and police efforts to ensure compliance.

Registered sex offenders who may victimize again is always a concern, and child sexual abuse happens too often in this area, Osbourn said.

"The Police Department goes to great lengths to prevent this behavior," Osbourn said. "We are extremely intolerant of predators who victimize children, whether sexual or whether through neglect."

Guadalupe Dominguez held in child molestation case

By Ashley Gebb, Appeal-Democrat

May 9, 2009

A Yuba City, CA, man was in custody Saturday on child molestation charges.

Guadalupe Dominguez, 39, of the 3900 block of S. Walton Avenue, was arrested Friday without incident on suspicion of unlawful sexual activity, continuous sexual abuse and lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under 14 after he came to the Sutter County Sheriff's Department to speak with a deputy, said Sgt. Chad Niswonger.

The department received a phone call Friday from a Yuba City resident alerting them of the alleged activity, Niswonger said. The child and Dominguez knew each other, according to Niswonger.

"At his time we are not under the assumption that there (are more victims)," he said. "But if they did come forward, we would definitely investigate it."

Dominguez was held without bail. Niswonger said he did not know if Dominguez has any prior convictions.

Niswonger wanted the public to know they should feel safe in coming forward. He said the department does its best to protect the identity of the victims and those who report the crimes. "We take this very seriously," he said.

Niswonger encouraged anyone suspicious of sexual abuse to report it to a teacher, counselor, law enforcement or anyone else they feel safe telling, he said.

Parents and other adults can do their part by having discussions about appropriate relationships with children or anyone else who could be susceptible to sexual abuse. "If anything, knowledge is power," he said. "If they know it is not right, they don't have to second-guess themselves."

May 8, 2009

Dentist Scott Henning arrested on suspicion of touching 15-year-old

The Modesto Bee

May 8, 2009

SONORA, CA - A 46-year-old Sonora dentist was arrested Thursday after it was determined he allegedly touched a 15-year-old girl in a sexual manner, according to the Tuolumne County Sheriff's Office.

The sheriff's office said he also had been corresponding with the girl in a sexual nature over the Internet.

Dr. Scott Henning was arrested after deputies served a search warrant at his office and his Sonora home, Sgt. Matt Zelinsky said.

Henning was charged with a lewd and lascivious act with child, distribution or exhibition of lewd material to a minor, contact with a minor with intent to commit sexual offense, and possession or control of matter depicting a minor engaging in or simulating sexual activity.

A computer and other electronic devices were seized from the home. The computers will be analyzed by a forensic analyst.

Henning posted bail, Zelinsky said. The case is still under investigation.

May 1, 2009

Erik Rutledge Charged With Molesting Teen; Police Fear There May Be More Victims

May 1, 2009

EDMOND, Okla. - Police have arrested an Edmond man they have accused of molesting a 14-year-old boy. Officers said the boy told his parents that Erik Rutledge, 21, touched him inappropriately.

"He preys on 16-year-olds and younger," said Glynda Chu of the Edmond Police Department.

Police said the 14-year-old accuser was on the way home from Liberty Lake in Guthrie with a 16-year-old companion last week when the incident happened.

"For some reason, he convinced the 14-year-old to take his clothes off while he was in the back seat," said Chu.

After dropping the 16-year-old off, police said that Rutledge and the 14-year-old stopped at Cheyenne Middle School. The boy said that Rutledge touched him inappropriately while the car was parked in the school lot. Police think there may be more victims because, they said, Rutledge hangs out with young people in places like Mitch Park.

"He uses religion to molest them," Chu said.

Edmond police asked anyone who thinks another child was molested to call Detective Greg Hunt at 405-359-4477.