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Posted on Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:20 a.m.

Pediatrician's reputation has been ruined by press coverage whether he is guilty or not

By Letters to the Editor

The press coverage of the case of pediatrician (Howard Bruce) Weinblatt demands reform. Whatever the facts may be and whatever the district attorney and the courts may decide, Weinblatt’s reputation, his ability to earn a living, and his position in the community have been irreparably damaged.

First, Weinblatt may not have done what is alleged. Second, the alleged behavior may not be a crime. Nonetheless, how many will now trust their children to his care or invite him to their homes or vote for him should he seek public office? And, how many others who have been finally judged innocent have been similarly damaged?

Until a final verdict or dismissal is rendered, we would do well to follow the British tradition of limiting coverage of allegations of criminal activities to reporting court actions, alone.

Joel A. Levitt Ann Arbor


Jen Eyer

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:57 a.m.

Comments on this post have been closed.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:11 a.m.

Sorry Ms. Castle, but you place way too much faith in the AAPD and The prosecutor in this case is a left-wing liberal and is out on a witch hunt.

Sandy Castle

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:22 p.m.

@Mr. Burns, your comment was well stated! To all of you who are upset that this story has been reported. reports the crime news they've been given. It's not up to the reporter to investigate this case. They are a local media outlet and their jobi is to report local happenings to the community. This is the same job they've been doing regarding local crimes for several years now. I haven't seen much outcry from all of the commenters before this. And in fact, my complaints are that they DO NOT report enough to us. The AAPD and Washtenaw County Prosecutor's Office, who are responsible for the investigation and prosecution, will do their job in the courtroom. It's not my experience, and I worked in the court system in Ann Arbor for 13 years, that these two offices charge anyone, especially someone of Dr. Weinblatt's standing, without strong evidence and a belief that the crime can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Dr. Weinblatt has access to exceptional attorneys and I'm sure they will do a commendable job on his behalf. We are very fortunate in this county in that we have hundreds of talented attorneys in our communty. Criminal cases are matters of public record and it is entirely appropriate that these cases are reported in our local paper so we citizens can be apprised of what is going on in our community. All cases, but ESPECIALLY this case. Because of the nature of this offense AND his position dealing directly with minors, (the charge of surveilling an unclothed person, a minor, is a felony AND is a sex offense), the public has a right to know about these charges and this arrest AND I believe has a duty to report it, and to keep us updated on the status of the case.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:51 p.m.

But the AAPD gave out misleading information to begin with. They lead us to believe that he was outsde her house "in the bushes". I am not blaming for that but rather the AAPD's misguided efforts not to identify the victim.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:56 p.m.

Somebody in this story is in the wrong and its impossible from the available info to tell who... But in the event no charges stand against the dr., i suspect he and his reputation will eventually recover/survive. Woody Allen faced not dissimilar ---perhaps even worse-- press in the past ( re his affair/ marriage with his stepdaughter) and was just the focus of a PBS American Masters show. And then there's Bill Cinton, more clearly culpable than this doctor. Both kept their heads down , did their jobs and came out the other side..

Michigan Reader

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:42 p.m.

My posting here veers slightly off topic, but is still relevant to the case. The earlier thread was closed to comments. Re his attorney's motion to dismiss peeping charges because he was in his own home and not trespassing, the motion quotes remarks from a trial court judge from the 1890's, his remarks are only repeated in the Michigan Supreme Court ruling, and the Michigan Supreme Court didn't rule on those remarks; it just upheld the jury's verdict. So, I believe the trial court's remarks are just dictum, and not binding precedent. The motion to dismiss the two peeping charges will probably fail. But, the Dr.'s lawyer has to make his best effort.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:56 p.m.

Everything has written about this case is public knowledge. This knowledge is available to any citizen who walks to the courthouse and reviews the case file. Becuase of the controversey this case has created, say a local censorship board is established to determine what court cases can be reported in the local media. No facts of the case can ever be discussed in the local media until the case is adjudicated. This is so no reputations of defendants are harmed, whether they are truck drivers or well paid doctors. In this age of the internet, what is to stop a blogger from reporting the crime or discussing the case? Are we suppose to censor him too? How about an out of state media source? Now do we get Washington involved? Telling what to report is creating a slippery slope of massive proportions.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 2:03 a.m.

Well Nicole, perhaps is was a poor description by me but I was portraying the spectrum of everyone between a regular blue color working person to someone at the top of a highly skilled profession. Trespass, by law the polcie and prosecutor have to protect the identities of juvenile victims of crimes sexual in nature. The "half truths" you speak of are probably information the police were only allowed to release by law in the court file.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

You say "well-paid" doctor as if it is something bad. Who would you like to be seen by, a well-paid doctor or a minimum wage paid doctor? I think they deserve what they're paid given the training the must attain to become one.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:38 p.m.

I am not complaining that it was reported but that the reports were only half truths, probably because of the police department's ill concieved efforts to protect the identity of the victim.

Mr. Burns

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:01 p.m.

I feel that indeed should have published the arrest of this doctor. He was arrested! I do not trust "Big Brother" but I do trust the Ann Arbor Police Department. They would never have pressed charges if they thought what they saw on the videotape and what they heard from the child's parents was not damning to the defendant. The negative comments about the AAPD and Amy Ellinger are sick. The police do not just charge people because they want to harm someone's reputation. The defendant is a doctor, a long time AA resident and the victims doctor, I am sure the AAPD took all that into account before arresting him. I feel the mother must have agonized for many days about what to do about this before she even got out her video camera. I commend her for standing up for her family knowing who she was dealing with (the doctor) and getting evidence of the incidents in question. The mother must have known how hard it would be to accuse a "well known doctor" and she took the steps to insure that the police would take her claim seriously. She did the right thing. This is a child's doctor (!) and I applaud the AAPD for their work and for publishing this story. I believe that should have a policy of never publishing comments insulting a victim in cases where a sexual assault or violation of any kind. Sure it would take more staffing to monitor comments, but it is the right thing to do especially in cases like this one involving a minor. The doctor was arrested, sure he hasn't gone to court yet, but, as I wrote earlier, the DA would not have charged him if they did not have just cause. This is our court system, and the doctor will just have to fight his case in the courts. To bad that it may hurt his reputation, but crap happens, and it is public record that he was arrested and I think comments about what is on the record should be allowed. But speculative comments about sexual assault victims should not be allowed.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:33 p.m.

It would be nice to sensor this media when it steps out of bounds, but heaven forbid, the media is always right?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

The media may not always be right, but nor should it be blindly censored. The opportunities for railroading are too great. Had there been no stories written about this case, the public would have no idea of the serious questions being raised about the prosecution of Dr. Weinblatt.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

Not sure why my comment was removed. I was remarking that I'm seeing many more people here bringing up the idea that Weinblatt may be innocent and should not be judged and wondered if it had to do with his being white and wealthy.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:22 p.m.

I maintain that no one was asking for the Doctor's head on a platter in comments on the previous articles. Please refer to the previous articles. These cries of "Unfair" should be limited to people's belief that nothing at all should have been reported. I also believe that if this case had involved an ordinary citizen, no one would have been coming to their defense as has appeared on this site. This only shows me the hidden prejudice that thrives in the community which is slanted toward the well heeled, or well known citizenry. As brought up by a previous commenter, a similar case in 2007 where the Dr. was ultimately acquitted, did not destroy her career.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:31 p.m.

This should be treated no differently than any other similar case. What part of that is so hard to understand? If I was accused, I would expect that the reporting would be the same. I don't happen to have been accused however.

Silly Sally

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:28 p.m.

So, would you want to be in this spotlight? I didn't think so. No normal person would. It harmed that doctor, and now this doctor, as it would anyone. Its trial by press, a biased press.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:59 p.m.

I agree that reputations can and are ruined by coverage of these sorts of "events". But arguably the safe way to avoid this would be no coverage at all till a conviction is in place AND the appeals process is exhausted. After all an initial conviction could be overturned on appeal. What level of protection is reasonable for one only charged with a crime? Its easy to toss out terms like "innocent till proven guilty" but who doesn't want the guy charged with 6 murders in jail while awaiting trial and conviction?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.

as I reread what I wrote I see how you could have assumed that. I was trying to suggest that withholding information is not practical. If I could rewrite it more clearly I would.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

"Are you seriously suggesting that nothing be written about a case until the final appeal is exhausted?" No not at all. Just the opposite.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:55 p.m.

Are you seriously suggesting that nothing be written about a case until the final appeal is exhausted? That sounds like a situation that easily feeds a police state. The public would never know ANYTHING that goes on when questions such as these arise.

hut hut

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

YEs, the "reporting" was atrocious bordering on criminal for innuendo and lack of facts. but what's worse are what was said in the comments section where the innuendo and lack of facts increased ten fold. Additionally the unprofessional "investigation" by the AAPD seemed reactionary and just as troubling as the reporting. The way this "story" was told was divisive and pitted neighbor against neighbor. Had it been reported in a daily newspaper by professional journalists without comments from the peanut gallery, the story would have most likely been a lot different. I made no comments on that story and I'm glad, but the bad taste it left in my mouth lingers.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

Does anyone remember the Duke Lacrosse case from 2006? As soon as the accusations were made, the media trashed the accused. The coach lost his job. The team disbanded and the players were dragged through the mud. The media had a field day with that one. When it turned out that the accuser had filed a false police report, the media lost interest in the story. No apology or restitution was offered for all the damage they created.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

Regarding the Duke fiasco, to my knowledge the false accuser (Crystal Mangum) did not apologize or compensate the lacrosse players in any way for the turmoil inflicted upon them and their families. However, the Wikipedia article ( <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> ) notes that the players and coach received apologies and undisclosed settlements from Duke University. On March 31, 2011, a judge (James Beaty) &quot;...issued a ruling on the Evans et. al. case, upholding claims against Nifong [the DA in the case] and his hired investigator Wilson for conspiracy to commit malicious prosecution in the course of their investigation; the city of Durham for negligence; Nifong, Wilson, and police investigators Gottlieb and Himan for malicious prosecution, concealment of evidence, and fabrication of false evidence.&quot; From what I can tell, the case is ongoing and this ruling apparently only allowed the case to proceed in court. It appears that the accuser has not been held accountable for the Duke travesty, but the other major players are being held accountable, though the wheels of justice are grinding ever so slowly. FWIW, Crystal Mangum is now in jail in North Carolina on a class C felony related to an allegation of having stabbed and seriously injured her boyfriend, who subsequently died in the hospital. To say that the media lost interest in the story once the initial allegations were proven false is not accurate; the world media appears to have done so, the national media to a lesser extent, but the local media in North Carolina does not appear to have lost any interest in the case.

Silly Sally

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:47 p.m.

Especially since the alleged victim was black and the innocent team members were "of privilege" , and white. A liberals dream from the 60s. They just can't get enough. Still.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:06 p.m. Did you edit out the sentence about oj simpson and casey anthony? Or is that my imagination? If you did then you should probably delete the entire letter and close the commenting. Several of the comments now make absolutely no sense. And if the writer's opinion cannot stand on the merits of his logic then don't publish the letter. If you do publish the letter let the commenters voice their opinion.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:49 p.m.

I get that nothing about this is good for anyone involved, not matter the outcome. Muzzling the media here, seems a little over reactive and nonsensical. Is it better for them to not report at all until the outcome is known? That is a mighty cloaking of information and not acceptable for me at least in this open society. What if he is found guilty? How would you feel had you been taking your children to him all along, since surely without reporting he could have remained at his job? Half of you, I suspect, would be screaming from the roof tops for the heads of the media for &quot;hushing it up&quot;. Since it's not just this man, in this case, what about a suspected murderer who makes bail? What then? Shall we keep quiet on that too? If he is your cable repair man, is that OK too? As distasteful as this is, the bright light of day is always far better than some person making decisions about what should be hushed up, what information we &quot;should not have&quot; or &quot;do not need&quot;. So those of you clamoring for no reporting, the opportunity for your gallantry if after this man is exonerated, if that comes to pass. Then, on principle, you should step forward and take your children to his practice. You should go out of your way to befriend him and help repair the damage he suffers. That is far more appropriate - of course it would require you to then pay close attention to the facts of the case throughout the trial, since we all know that trial out comes are not always about actual guilt or innocence but often about legal contests and quality of attorneys.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:49 p.m.

Couldn't have put it better myself

Silly Sally

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

But far too many people will not, they will say, "Oh, while he was acquitted, I am 'for my children' and can't take a chance…" Once a reputation is ruined, it is very hard to regain. This story should have omitted the doctor's name to protect the girl from teasing peers, and the doctor, in case he is innocent, which he is presumed to be.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:14 p.m.

Very well said.

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:24 p.m.

well said


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

Did the police deliberately mislead Did they want to protect the identity of the victim by not saying that she was the doctor's next door neighbor. This may have an altruistic motive but it lead to a story that made it sound like he was &quot;hiding in the bushes&quot; outside her house rather than looking out his own window. Did the police also omit this important detail from the court in their application for a search warrant or from the prosecutor when seeking a warrant to arrest him? These are important issues of public trust in the police department and they could influence how a jury might view police actions in a civil trial. Is asking these questions?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 5:03 p.m.

Rather than make a misleading public statement that said Weinblatt visited the girl's home on 4 separate occasions, shouldn't the police have stated something along the lines of... &quot;in order to protect the alleged victim's identity we cannot discuss details of this case yet&quot;? It was reported in one of the articles that the police investigator stated what the accuser's interpretation of the videorecording was. What did the police investigator herself think when she viewed the recording?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:26 p.m.

I guess based on that logic, Casey Anthony and OJ Simpsons reputations have been &quot;irreparably damaged&quot;. Both were found not guilty. What if Jerry Sandusky gets acquitted? I guess that story should not be told. There have been remarkably few convictions in the Catholic church rape scandals as well. The news medias JOB is to report what is happening. If we waited for the court system to work things out, I guess we can all live in world with blinders on, never knowing anything.

Jen Eyer

Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:07 a.m.

When children are alleged victims of a crime, their parents are by extension victims too — as long as they have not been accused of any wrongdoing themselves.


Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.

Hey trespass, you get arrested, it's public information, to have it any other way would jeopardize our freedom because government could arrest you and make you disappear with no explanation. Is that what you would prefer? You can't have secrecy and transparency at the same time.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.

Since when is the mother the victim? She is the complaining witness but she is in no way the victim. If there is a victim it would be the 12 year old girl. We cannot even comment on the mother's responsibility as a parent without having the comment removed. Nothing happened to the mother. She is not the victim.

Silly Sally

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

The victim in this case, per's rules, extends to the mother. No one has ever said that the girl has ever lied, or even talked about this topic. She has not spoken. Only the mother has talked. Not being allowed to talk about a critical person is a case hampers any discussion, and makes it hard to defend the doctor against these charges. There actually have been many convictions in the Catholic Church scandal. Few in your opinion, since the incidence amongst priests is not much different than that of many other professions. But the church is very large and national in its scope, so it is repeated again and again whereas, even though each parish or diocese was separate, several local schools are not tied together by a common name.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

@trespass The victim would only be charged with anything if they were found to be lying. In the OJ case, would delete somebody saying Nicole should not be letting her young waiter bf drive around in a car her ex husband paid for. It is inappropriate. Sandusky's victims should not be told, if they didn't tell anybody it was because they wanted it or speculate that they are lying for a large payday. This is basic. I have no opinion on this case, but you have ZERO evidence to suggest the victim (the 12 year old) is lying. If you do, you are free to take it to the police, have her arrested and then we can have the conversation about her alleged lying.

Blazingly Busy

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

I wish I could vote about fifty times for tresspas' response.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:39 p.m.

I think the difference is that they did not blame the victim - OJ was not the victim, nor was Casey Anthony.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

This kind of comment is why us bloggers are saying that the moderator's choices are biased against the doctor. This commenter uses two cases where the suspects were acquitted but asks us to conclude that they were guilty anyway. The implication is that, even if the doctor is acquitted, he may be guilty. If a commenter suggests that the mother may be lying, the comment is removed.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:08 p.m.

The testimony of AAPD Detective Amy Ellinger, as reported in these pages, demonstrates in my opinion a studied attempt to destroy this man's reputation. She argued entirely on the basis of double hearsay and never stated whether the recording made by the mother had been preserved, as it apparently had been erased. For her to then ask for $50,000 bond is just piling on.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

I missed the information regarding it was &quot;apparently&quot; erased. Where did you get that information from?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:01 p.m.

IF the charges against Weinblatt are ultimately dropped or if he is found not guilty in a trial, perhaps he will seek remedies in the form a civil lawsuit. One of the more astonishing aspects of this case was that he was arrested for looking out a window of his own home. What has yet to be made public is the evidence the police used to obtain and execute a search warrant which allowed them to ransack Weinblatt's home and seize personal property. The public does not have all the facts but what we do know is terrifying from a civil liberties point of view.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

innocent until proven quilty. so once it is all done then judge him.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 2:50 p.m.

Oh nice, just sweep it under the rug, as if you have no culpability here....I would say AA. com needs to comply with reality, which is what this letter to the editor was about. WAKE UP CALL!!!!

Jen Eyer

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 2:38 p.m.

We welcome comments on this story, but ask commenters to comply with our conversation guidelines. 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>


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.

Jen- see Attempted Voice of Reasons comment: &quot;Well, I could understand the debate if he was arguing he didn't watch the girl, or if it was only a quick &quot;oops&quot; when he was looking out the window, but he is not denying lingering stares at the changing girl. There is no question of fact about whether he was staring. Regardless of whether laws are broken when looking into an open window, and I do understand the legal slippery slope here, he's still a creeper. While I might still trust him to do my taxes or cut my hair, I would not trust him to care for the bodies of my children as their doctor.&quot; Tell me that is not saying the Doctor is guilty even if he is acquitted. Not only that but she is putting in &quot;he's not denying&quot;, which is a fact not in evidence (she made it up). Why is that not as much of a violation of the moderation policy as saying the mother might be lying?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:12 p.m.

Jen- If the commenter wanted to give examples of people whose reputations had unjustly been ruined they could have used the security guard that was unjustly accused in the bombing at the 2000 Olympics or the guy that was unjustly accused of the anthrax attacks.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

Jen- It is the choice of the examples themselves because both Casey Anthony and OJ Simpson are cases where not guilty verdicts have been widely criticized. In the court of public opinion these people are guilty. So is Jerry Sandusky. One doesn't have to say it in words one can say it by the examples you choose. The whole sentiment expressed in the comment is that it doesn't matter that his reputation is ruined because we all know he is guilty.

Jen Eyer

Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 10 p.m.

Trespass: I don't see where the commenter asks anyone to conclude that the two examples of acquitted citizens were guilty anyway. Can you please point that out?


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

Why in the hell did my comment get deleted? I basically pointed out the glaring flaw in the opinion piece writers logic. I mentioned NOTHING about the family and really have no opinion on the doctor or the story in general. I made a comment that the writer is wrong to say the doctor is any more irreparably harmed any more than any other person who is found not guilty. Oj Simpson and Casey Anthony being two of those examples. I will challenge you to find ANYTHING I wrote in that comment that violates your guidelines.


Sat, Dec 17, 2011 : 3:32 p.m.

In case the comment below is removed, I am putting it here as well &quot;This kind of comment is why us bloggers are saying that the moderator's choices are biased against the doctor. This commenter uses two cases where the suspects were acquitted but asks us to conclude that they were guilty anyway. The implication is that, even if the doctor is acquitted, he may be guilty. If a commenter suggests that the mother may be lying, the comment is removed.&quot;