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Former Bloomington piano teacher convicted of sexually assaulting young student

Aaron Parlier walks into court
David Proeber
The Pantagraph (Pool)
Aaron Parlier, center, a former Bloomington piano teacher, arrives for his bench trial in McLean County Circuit Court on Monday, Oct. 18, 2021.

In a lengthy decision delivered Friday, a judge found a former Bloomington piano teacher guilty of predatory criminal sexual assault and producing child pornography of a young student captured on video engaging in sexual acts with the teacher.

Aaron Parlier, 40, was charged in 2018 with sexually assaulting and illegally recording six students between 2009 and 2016. His two-day bench trial this week was the first of six trials he faces on the 38 felony counts.

Judge Casey Costigan read his ruling to a courtroom that included Bloomington police officers who worked on the investigation, and Adam Ghrist, the attorney for the victim, whose allegations against her piano instructor were the focus of the first trial.

Ghrist said the family had no comment on the verdict.

In his 15-minute delivery of the verdict, the judge said the state presented convincing evidence that Parlier filmed sexual acts with a girl who was under the age of 13.

“The defendant’s own actions” during the videos “absolutely convinced the court he was the one filming,” said Costigan. The graphic video depicted Parlier, who was in his 30s at the time, instructing the girl on how to perform sexual acts.

Parlier faces 120 to 900 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 14.

After the ruling, State’s Attorney Don Knapp and prosecutor Erika Reynolds thanked police for their work on the case and the victim for her cooperation. He also thanked the Children's Advocacy Center for its help.

Knapp said he was “proud of the amazing courage of the victim for coming forward.”

Parlier did not testify at his trial, and no other witnesses or evidence was presented by the defense.

The state’s strongest evidence came from the victim’s mother and an hour of disturbing video depicting the girl and Parlier engaging in sexual conduct. The state contends the girl was under 13 when the video was created, an opinion backed up by the girl’s mother, who estimated the child was 8 or 9 when the abuse occurred.

Prosecutor Erika Reynolds bristled at suggestions from defense lawyer Adam Bolotin that the child’s language and conduct were not those of an innocent young girl. The innocence, said Reynolds, was stolen by her piano teacher.

Reynolds told the judge the state intends to move forward in February with a trial involving a second alleged victim.

Defense lawyer Gal Pissetzky said Parlier will appeal the verdict. He said a search warrant executed at a home where police seized the laptop computer containing the child pornography will be an issue in the appeal.

YWCA Stepping Stones is a free McLean County resource for survivors of sexual assault and abuse and their loved ones available at 309-556-7000, 24 hours a day. 
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Edith began her career as a reporter with The DeWitt County Observer, a weekly newspaper in Clinton. From 2007 to June 2019, Edith covered crime and legal issues for The Pantagraph, a daily newspaper in Bloomington, Illinois. She previously worked as a correspondent for The Pantagraph covering courts and local government issues in central Illinois.
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