A mother frustrated by a justice system that dropped criminal charges against an alleged peeping Tom in her neighbourhood received a startling apology yesterday from Premier Dalton McGuinty.

Patricia Marshall, who lives with two daughters in St. Catharines, called police after she videotaped a neighbour allegedly peeking in her windows and masturbating.

The police laid one charge of criminal harassment, but the Crown withdrew it before the case went to court, noting the man had begun therapy and was not a suspect in any other incident.

Marshall and her daughter Lindsay went to the legislature Monday to describe how unsafe they felt in their own home, which prompted the premier to offer an apology the next day.

The Crown “dropped the ball” with this case, McGuinty said yesterday.

“Clearly this was not handled properly and they should have been notified by the Crown that the charges were going to be dropped,” he said.

“And I apologize for that failure on the part of the Crown office.”

McGuinty said he wants to send a message to all women that his government will do everything it can to protect them.