Police: Woman recorded video of Ann Arbor pediatrician watching her 12-year-old daughter
An Ann Arbor woman recorded a video of her neighbor, pediatrician Howard Weinblatt, peeping on her 12-year-old daughter while he appeared to be masturbating, records show.
Washtenaw County court records also show Weinblatt has been the victim's doctor since she was born.
Details in the case against the veteran Ann Arbor pediatrician can be found in an audio recording of Weinblatt's Nov. 23 arraignment that was obtained Tuesday by AnnArbor.com through the Freedom of Information Act.
Dr. Weinblatt, 65, who has taken a leave of absence from IHA Child Health - Ann Arbor, where he's worked for years, is charged with four counts of surveilling an unclothed person and two counts of window peeping. State licensing officials have said he can continue to practice while the case is pending. Weinblatt's attorney, Laurence Margolis, has said Weinblatt will vigorously defend himself against the charges.
Asked Tuesday about the video and other allegations, Margolis said, "Dr. Weinblatt is the victim of an illegal custodial arrest in his own home without a warrant based on trumped up charges by an overzealous police officer. He is being prosecuted for crimes he did not commit, and there never was probable cause he committed any offense.
"The doctor’s home was ransacked and his family property was seized by an AAPD police officer who was more concerned with headlines than my client’s civil rights or his liberty interest. We have formally requested that the county prosecutor dismiss all charges and we are hopeful Dr. Weinblatt will soon be completely exonerated."
Weinblatt is accused of watching out his bathroom window on four occasions between Oct. 18 and Oct. 31 while the 12-year-old changed her clothing in her walk-in bedroom closet. According to a criminal complaint, Weinblatt's alleged conduct occurred under circumstances where the girl had a "reasonable expectation of privacy."
The Nov. 23 arraignment
Weinblatt, who was arrested Nov. 22 when Ann Arbor police executed a search warrant at his home, said little during his roughly 10-minute long arraignment the next day at the Washtenaw County Jail, the recording shows. He spoke only to answer a few routine questions from Magistrate Camille Horne, who asked for information such as his name and date of birth.
Ann Arbor police Detective Amy Ellinger who had submitted a written request for a $50,000 bond in the case, told Horne that "both the prosecutor's office and myself have substantial concerns" and believe the bond request is "very reasonable."
Ellinger, who is leading the investigation, said Weinblatt's house on Olivia Avenue is 11 feet from the victim's house. She said that on four occasions, the victim's mother "was in her daughter's upstairs bedroom and observed Mr. Weinblatt observing her daughter who was changing her clothes in a walk-in bedroom closet from his bathroom window which is directly across from their 12-year-old daughter's closet."
"On one of the occasions, she took her iPad and recorded the incident," Ellinger said. "She left the iPad recording, facing outward so she could observe what was happening later. She walked away, and, when she came back and reviewed the video, she observed what in her opinion was Dr. Weinblatt not only looking out the window at her daughter when she was changing her clothes, but also masturbating at the time."
Ellinger said it was a concern that "this has happened so many times" and that Weinblatt is a pediatrician.
"He has also been the victim's pediatrician ever since she's been born and he still continues to have access to children in his profession," Ellinger said.
Ellinger asked Horne to order that Weinblatt have no contact will the victim's family, stay off the family's property and have "no contact with minor children for their potential safety."
Horne asked Ellinger whether any other minors were being "subject to the alleged conduct" by Weinblatt. Ellinger said, "Not at this time. The investigation is still ongoing."
Weinblatt's attorney, Margolis, spoke earlier during the arraignment, arguing that Weinblatt should be released on a promise to appear.
Weinblatt has no criminal record and is a "distinguished and important figure in this community," Margolis said. Margolis said Weinblatt has lived in the Ann Arbor area since the mid 1970s and owns a house with his wife in the Burns Park neighborhood, where they've lived for 17 years. Margolis said Weinblatt isn't a flight risk.
"Apparently, the allegations involve looking through a window at a neighbor..." Margolis said. Margolis said the allegations are being taken "very seriously."
"But Dr. Weinblatt is entitled, obviously, to the presumption of innocence," Margolis said.
Margolis also said that any proposed bond condition prohibiting Weinblatt from having contact with minors is unnecessary. Weinblatt has been "practicing without incident, for going on 40 years, working with minors," Margolis said.
Horne released Weinblatt that day on a promise to appear. She set bond conditions ordering that Weinblatt not contact the victim's family, go to the victim's property or use or possess alcohol or drugs.
She did not grant Ellinger's request to order that Weinblatt have no contact with minors. In releasing Weinblatt on a promise to appear, Horne noted that he has no criminal record, has strong connections to the community and that police were not alleging there were other victims.
Weinblatt is scheduled to return to court for a preliminary hearing Jan. 4.
Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at firstname.lastname@example.org