Court strikes down limits on filming of police in Arizona

Jan. 20—TRAVERSE CITY — A preliminary examination for the downtown business owner, charged with using a hidden surveillance camera to record women in his coffeeshop’s restroom, has been rescheduled to 1:30 p.m. March 15th in the 86th District Court in Traverse City.

The proceeding for Edward Witkowski, 49, had originally been set for 11 a.m. Friday

Witkowski is currently out on bond and the business, Morsels, is temporarily closed. His most recent public court appearance was a probable cause conference on Jan. 4.

Witkowski was arrested and arraigned in November, and is facing the following charges, according to district court records:

—one felony count of using a computer to commit a crime, punishable by seven years in prison;

—three felony counts of capturing/distributing an image of an unclothed person, each punishable by five years in prison;

—and one misdemeanor count of lying to Traverse City Police Detective Matt Verschaeve when Verschaeve questioned him about the surveillance camera. Conviction on that count is punishable by up to two years in prison.

These charges came from a months-long investigation by the Traverse City Police Department after a surveillance camera was discovered hidden in a wall outlet in the women’s restroom.

Three former Morsels employees provided interviews and photos to detectives to aid their investigative efforts.

Based on information in police reports, obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, investigators are alleging that Witkowski had three videos of unclothed women from that bathroom camera on his cellphone.

Witkowski has retained attorneys Michael Naughton and Jesse Williams to represent him.

According to Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Kyle Attwood, the reason for Friday’s adjournment was because the time allotted for the hearing would not have provided enough time in court to go through all of the evidence they have to present.

With the new afternoon time slot in March, that shouldn’t be a problem, he said.

When law enforcement searched Witkowski’s North Oak Street home and business, they seized more than a dozen electronic devices.

During his client’s arraignment, Naughton waived Witkowski’s right to a speedy preliminary examination because of the overwhelming amount of material the prosecution has collected in this case.

“I have some of the discovery, but I don’t believe that I have all of it,” he said during the hearing. “I think this is going to be intensive. We need at least 90 days to look at this.”

In the meantime, Witkowski remains out on bond with modified conditions that were set during his November arraignment before Magistrate Tammi Rodgers.

Rodgers said, at the time, that Witkowski would be allowed to use the internet to access and review business records that may be online, such as bank records, accounting information and utilities.

He is also permitted by the court to use a cellphone, with no camera or internet, or a landline to communicate with his legal counsel and other people who are not listed in the warrants or the bond documents. He also is permitted to use email for the same reason, she said at his arraignment.

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