Grandville ‘potty peeper' has history of targeting women in public restrooms

56-year-old Robert Bell is accused of looking over a bathroom partition at the Meijer store in Grandville while a woman was in there.

GRANDVILLE, MICH. - A man with a history of following women into public restrooms to watch them use the toilet has been ordered to stand trial for peering over the bathroom stall at a Meijer store in Grandville as an unsuspecting woman tended to business.

Robert James Bell, 56, waived a hearing in Grandville District Court this week on a felony charge of surveilling an unclothed person – second offense.

Bell has numerous prior convictions and was on probation for gawking at a woman over a stall door at a department store bathroom in Kalamazoo County.

 The most recent incident occurred Sept. 8 at the Meijer on Century Center Street west of Ivanrest Avenue SW in Grandville.

A woman using the bathroom saw a man “looking at her over the stall partition,’’ court records show. “Her unclothed buttocks would have been visible to the suspect.’’

Silent Observer disseminated a surveillance image of the suspect to area media four days later; the calls started coming in.

The investigating officer received several tips that the suspect was Robert Bell of Kalamazoo. Police contacted his probation officer, who obtained a probation violation warrant.

After his arrest for the probation violation, Bell admitted to surveilling an unclothed person at the Meijer store, court records show.

The offense is punishable by up to five years in prison, but Bell could face more time because of prior felony convictions.

According to a 2011 report by Alabama television station WAFF, Bell pleaded guilty to six counts of criminal surveillance for peeping on women in a Walmart store in 2009. He was also charged in 2011 with spying on women in public restrooms in Decatur and Hunstville, WAFF reported.

Bell has nine prior convictions in Michigan dating back more than 20 years that landed him in prison, state records show. Prior offenses include surveilling an unclothed person in Kalamazoo County and two convictions for retail fraud.

He has disorderly person convictions for following women into restrooms at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Silent Observer in Kent County on Sept. 12 posted an image to its Facebook page showing a man – later identified as Bell, dressed in a New York Yankees T-shirt. ”Did you know if you peek into an occupied potty, that is considered a felony?’’ the post says. “Well, this guy didn’t know or care because he was caught in the act of peeking over an occupied women’s restroom stall.''

The post also advised readers to “look up when using a public restroom.’’

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