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Posted on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:59 a.m.

Ann Arbor pediatrician seeks dismissal of two window peeping charges

By Lee Higgins

An Ann Arbor pediatrician accused of watching out his bathroom window as a 12-year-old neighbor changed her clothing in a bedroom closet is asking the court to dismiss two of six criminal charges against him.

Dr. Howard Weinblatt, 65, is charged with four counts of surveilling an unclothed person and two counts of window peeping.

howard bruce weinblatt.jpg


In a motion filed last week, Attorney Laurence Margolis asked the court to dismiss the two misdemeanor window peeping counts against Weinblatt. In short, the motion says the law in Michigan is clear that one cannot be a "peeping Tom" from the confines of his own home.

Judge Kirk Tabbey reviewed the motion Tuesday, court records show, but has not yet scheduled a hearing on it. Washtenaw County Chief Deputy Assistant Prosecutor Steve Hiller declined comment Thursday, saying he hasn’t seen the motion. Attorney Thomas O’Brien, who is now representing Weinblatt, declined comment.

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."

Ann Arbor police Detective Amy Ellinger testified at Weinblatt’s Nov. 23 arraignment that on one of the four occasions, the girl’s mother left an iPad out and recorded a video. Upon reviewing the video, the mother "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 testified. Ellinger also testified that the 12-year-old has been a patient of Weinblatt's since she was born.

According to the motion to dismiss that was filed Dec. 8, prosecutors have not alleged that Weinblatt left his Olivia Avenue home, so there was no probable cause to charge him with window peeping.

"It is alleged that defendant was 'inappropriately looking' out his own residence’s second floor bathroom window, and into the home of an immediately adjacent neighbor, 11 feet away, while a minor was ‘changing for school," the motion says. "It is alleged that defendant was therefore a 'peeping Tom.' There are no allegations of any sort that defendant ever left the confines of his own home to allegedly commit this offense."

To show one cannot be a peeping Tom from the confines of his own home, the motion cites the 1897 case City of Grand Rapids v Williams. In that case, records say, a man was convicted of window peeping after leaving a public sidewalk and approaching a window of a house. Six feet from the sidewalk, the man leaned on a window sill, records show, and peered into the window of a room where people were present, for about two minutes. The room was lighted and the window shade was six to 12 inches above the window sill.

Records say that after testimony in the man's trial, the judge instructed the jury: "It is no offense for a person walking along on the sidewalk, and without trespassing upon the premises of another, to look through an uncurtained window or a window partially covered with a curtain. But if a person steps off the sidewalk, not at the usual approaches or walks to a house, and for no legitimate purpose, and without the consent and against the will of the owner, in such case he may be a trespasser and wrongdoer; and if, after so trespassing, he proceeds to a window with a curtain raised from five to twelve inches, and leans upon the window sill, and with no legitimate purpose in so doing, such peeking in at such window so shaded by curtains at 11 or 12 o'clock at night may, in law, be said to be peeking into the window."

Records say because the man stepped off the sidewalk and trespassed on private property, he was found guilty of the violation as described by the court's instructions to the jury. On appeal, records show the Michigan Supreme Court found that the jury's verdict was justified by the evidence and the judgment was affirmed.

The motion also says an Ann Arbor city ordinance requires trespassing on the victim's private property as a "requisite element" of the charge of being a window peeper. Under the ordinance, no person shall "knowingly go upon property owned or leased by another and peep through the window of a building on that property at any person without the express or implied consent of that person."

It is "crystal clear that in Michigan, to be charged with the above window peeping offense, a person must have at least ventured onto private property," the motion says. Window peeping is punishable upon conviction by up to 90 days in jail.

So far, no motions have been filed challenging the more serious felony counts of surveilling an unclothed person. Surveilling an unclothed person is punishable upon conviction by up to two years in prison.

Weinblatt has been on leave from IHA Child Health - Ann Arbor, where he has worked for years. State licensing officials have said he can continue to practice while the case is pending. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Jan. 12.

Initial story on this case: Veteran Ann Arbor pediatrician accused of window peeping

Lee Higgins covers crime and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 and email at


Jen Eyer

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 10:13 p.m.

Comments on this story have been closed.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:30 p.m.

Here is another reminder that if you want to post a comment regarding our moderation practices, please do not post it on this story, but rather, post it here: <a href=""></a> Thank you.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.

&quot;We allow comments that discuss the charges and the suspect, but those comments may not presume guilt.&quot; Fairness then demands that since he IS innocent until proven guilty, comments &quot;discussing&quot; the alleged victim and that family's actions [without blaming them of course, same as with him] should be allowed as well. She is as much an &quot;alleged&quot; victim as he is the &quot;alleged&quot; criminal. No verdict yet.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:24 p.m.



Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

To Tony Dearing and Wouldn't it have been sufficient and newsworthy enough to have stated just the facts abut this request for dismissal of the peeping tom charges--and the the legal basis for that request--without rehashing all the salacious details over and over again with each article? Additionally, to all who have madse comments, please again keep in mind the oprinciples on which we have been founded: INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:12 p.m.

Tony- &quot;we do not allow comments that presume guilt on the part of the accused, or that call for a specific punishment, but once a suspect has been formally charged and named, people are allowed to post comments regarding the allegations and the suspect.&quot; This makes no sense. So you are saying that once they HAVE been formally charged, you allow comments that presume guilt on the part of the accused? Therefore, formal charges immmediately imply guilt and we are allowed to comment regarding the allegations and the suspect. If innocent until proven guilty is supposed to be the rule of law, this is ridiculous.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

No, to be clear, if a person has been charged but not convicted, we do not allow comments that presume guilt. We allow comments that discuss the charges and the suspect, but those comments may not presume guilt.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:30 p.m.

You do not allow comments that criticize or blame the alleged victim. How have you determined the victim in this case? Do you have information that you're not reporting. Isn't it possible that the doctor is a victim of a false accuasation?

Tony Dearing

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:38 p.m.

We do not have information we are not reporting. As for our conversation guidelines, they do address people who are accused of crimes as well. Under our guidelines, we do not allow comments that presume guilt on the part of the accused, or that call for a specific punishment, but once a suspect has been formally charged and named, people are allowed to post comments regarding the allegations and the suspect.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

Too bad the A2 news can't be censored, you continue to deliver nothing of value about this subject.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7:26 p.m.

I continue to have a hard time with this story all the way around, from every angle it just doesn't add up. 1. He is her doctor &amp; neighbor - I would have expected something along the line of - to child's parents - &quot;Hey can you get Susie some curtains/blinds for her room? Her Window in her Walk In Closet looks right into my bathroom!&quot;. Making this issue a neighborly effort to address together. 2. The defense is I am not a Peeping Tom based on a 1897 law that requires crossing property lines, instead of I wasn't watching this child.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:01 p.m.

Also, why didn't they seek dismissal of all charges, not just two?


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

The defense attorneys in this case appear to be on good legal footing. I shall be surprised if this case is bound over for trial since the allegations set forth by the police at arraignment do not constitute a crime in my opinion. One thing that has never been apparent is who at the County Prosecutor's office authorized the charges for this case. It will be a shame if the courts dismisses these charges and both the alleged young victim and Dr. Weinblatt's lives have been turned upside down. It will be a bigger shame if the case is tried by a jury given these allegations. Remember another doctor, Catherine Wilkerson, M.D. formerly of the Packard Clinic who had suffered a year-long ordeal in court before being acquitted by a jury of flimsy criminal charges against her. Those were brought by Margaret Connors, then an assistant prosecuting attorney with the offce of County Prosecutor Brian Mackie.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.

I would state that the charges against a truck driver would have far less impact that a physician regulated by the Board of Medicine who treats children as a pediatrician on a regular basis. Dr. Wilkerson's charge was attempted obstruction of a police officer during an arrest arising out of her giving medical attention to a person allegedly injured by a law enforcement officer. It had nothing to do with prurient conduct.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

Would you say the same if the alleged perpetrator was an unknown truck driver? I doubt it. Pointing to another Dr's case means nothing .. plenty have been found guilty in sexual misconduct cases.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

There was a well-publicized case in Florida several years back in which an individual VIDEO-TAPED his neighbors from his own property, through the un-curtained windows of their home, while they engaged in intimate acts. The higher-courts eventually decided he had not violated any peeping laws then because 1) he had not trespassed and 2) the neighbors' expectation of privacy was negated by their not curtaining the windows. Since the laws here don't seem to have made adjustments for the possibility that neighbors living in close proximity (11 feet) might see into one another's homes, its' likely those charges won't stick.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

Laws are not keeping up with technological developments.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

This story perfectly shows the conflicts that can result from the collision of free speech and due process. If Dr. Weinblatt is innocent until proven guilty.....and he is ultimately found to be innocent - his reputation was permanently destroyed after the first story laced with innuendo was published. Regardless of how this eventually comes out......this whole thing makes me squeamish on every level. For's part....I haven't see a lot of journalistic restraint or for this case - and others for that Burton Hoey of Jenny's Farm Market. Innocent or guilty (and he wasn't even charged with anything) this guy was ruined on this web site.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

&quot;read: Burton Hoey of Jenny's Farm Market. Innocent or guilty (and he wasn't even charged with anything) this guy was ruined on this web site.&quot; Untrue.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:57 p.m.

I agree, but such is the price of an open society. What if we never published these stories until conviction, and the perpetrator was indeed a serial child molester or rapist? As his direct neighbor, one could go months or realistically, years, without knowing and thereby have no opportunity to take protective measures for ones children.

Jim Osborn

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

If truely cared about a victim's privicy, it never would have aired this article, and then keep reprinting it over and over again. It only allows one-sided remarks against the doctor, per its policy. This must explain all of the &quot;A comment that violated...&quot;

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

I was a kid once, in middle school, and I can only begin to imagine the torment this topic must have caused. It never should have been published, or, if published, omit both the victim and the doctor, to protect the girl.

Silly Sally

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

Its policy does not allow anyone to &quot;defend&quot; him based upon the neighbor's actions, or any other family member. Their actions are also a big part of the story.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

I disagree, I have read all of the articles and I have not seen a lot of &quot;one-sided remarks against the doctor. I have seen an abundance of comments saying what a great doctor he is and that &quot;someone is mistaken&quot;, and that &quot;someone has a vendetta&quot;, and there will be law suits, etc., etc., etc. No one here knows what really happened. That is for the courts to decide and should not treat this case involving a prominent doctor any differently than anyone else.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.

First off: thanks to for providing at least some of the legal precedent for cases like this. To me at least, this isn't so much about the defendant or plaintiff, it's an opportunity for us to learn about what constitutes improper vs proper behaviors when either securing our own privacy or respecting the privacy of others. Window peeping: I find it interesting that there can be a defense based on whether or not the act is committed while trespassing. It seems egregious to &quot;validate&quot; peeping from one's own property or through an opening in one's own place of residence. Obviously, violations of the rights of others - even from concealment or using the protection of one's own property rights - is never justified. Notice here: I refer only to the reported actions of the defense attorney in this case.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.

And if your neighbor owns a high powered telescope and uses it from the confines of his own home, ostensibly to say, view birds or insects far away, what then? Still OK?

Jim Osborn

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

If I were by a window next to a sidewalk on the first floor on Main Street, with people walking by, I would close the shades. If on a private estate with 50 acres and many trees, someone would need to trespass to come within view. So, this law from over 100 years ago makes perfect sense.

Chase Ingersoll

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

Tony: What's the process that uses to decide to even publish a story like this? Is there any point in the process where an editor can raise the question that actually publishing the report on this might be more appropriate only after the allegations have been weighed by the court, rather than throwing out the most salacious allegations that are going to forever color the public's recall of the situation, even if they are completely dis-proven? It just seem like even if an allegation is completely false, if it can make it to the front page. But if eventually proved false, will never receive the same level of coverage.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7 p.m.

Any time a prominent member of a community faces criminal charges it is newsworthy on a number of levels. First, flimsy criminal charges make the prosecution look bad and fosters public accountability. Look what happened in the Mike Nifong case and more recently the sex case brought by District Attorney Cyrus Vance in New York. The press coverage caused bad cases to be dropped. Secondly, the public has a right to learn via the press the progress of court proceedings and who is charged. Many times it causes the public to come forth with information that is helpful to the disposition of the case. Thirdly, press coverage of court proceedings educates the public on specific matters of public interest. Drunk driving and spouse abuse have been in the news and coverage of such court proceedings encourages citizen discourse leading to needed legislative and executive branch attention. Press coverage of this case is clearly in the public interest in many ways.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:56 p.m.

I don't speak for but you have to realize that reporting that charges were filed, an investigation was done and a court proceeding will be coming is not in any way prejudicial. You're talking about actually trying to influence opinion when it's obvious there are two opposing groups of people eager to spout their opinions and engage in argument vs dialogue.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:58 p.m.



Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:45 p.m.

Good for you, Tony. You called this one exactly right. I can't believe people are stupid enough to blame the family. If the facts are as alleged, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the defendant.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

@ Fred- Uhh, if the facts are not as alleged, I have no sympathy whatsoever for the accuser. If Fred's comment stands, then mine must as well, as it features exactly the same logic.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

We understand there are differences of opinion over our moderating on this issue, and we invite a discussion on that, but please post your comments about our moderation here: <a href=""></a>


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

Dear fred, read a book, a specific one, To Kill A Mockingbird. If you have already, read it again. And Tony did not get anything right. He could read the book too.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:22 p.m.

I don't even care to go there. I don't want to know anymore than what I have already read. Perhaps this case should be closed to further comments and let the courts deal with it now.


Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.

If you don't care to read further comments, then feel free not to read them .... it's a public matter, however, so open to comment.

Tony Dearing

Fri, Dec 16, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

We welcome comments on this story, but ask commenters to comply with our conversation guidelines, which do not allow comments that seek to criticize or blame the alleged victim or her family, or to suggest that the family should have done something different. For a fuller explanation of our guidelines and how and why we are applying them to this story, you can go here: <a href=""></a>