BLOOMINGTON — The state can use evidence collected in a police search of the home of a former Bloomington piano teacher accused of sexually assaulting three of his students, a judge ruled Friday.
A total of 38 counts have been filed against Aaron Parlier, accusing him of predatory criminal sexual assault, child pornography and sexual abuse involving three students and two other minors. The charges span a time frame of 2009 to 2016.
The 37-year-old defendant sat motionless, his eyes downcast, throughout the two-hour hearing.
Defense lawyer Gal Pissetzky argued the information used by police to request the search warrants came from minors allegedly assaulted several years earlier, making the information stale.
Authorities also failed to show a nexus existed between the alleged crime, the information and the suspect, said Pissetzky.
He said an initial search of an apartment in Bloomington where alleged victims claim Parlier molested them turned up no evidence because he had vacated the residence by the time police searched it. That showed the information was out of date, he said.
A second home in Mackinaw where police believed Parlier lived with his wife also was searched with a warrant based on the same information that formed the basis for the search of the apartment.
The defense also argued the search warrant application sought computers and other devices not mentioned by the minors in their statements.
The circumstances of the Parlier case represent "the rare, exceptional case" because of the question of whether the information was current enough to warrant a search, said the defense lawyer.
Conclusions by the defense that police lacked potential evidence of a crime when they searched the suspect's home "defies logic," said Assistant State's Attorney Erika Reynolds.
The prosecutor listed specifics from the multiple interviews police conducted with the alleged victims, including descriptions of an ongoing sexual relationship allegedly lasting several years between the music teacher and a minor.
Reynolds also noted that Parlier admitted to police he engaged in the relationship and sent a sexually explicit photo to a girl to solicit her opinion before he sent it to his girlfriend. He did not deny having a student practice in the nude, the prosecutor added.
In his ruling, Costigan cited a distinction between potential evidence that may become stale, such as drugs, and computers that could contain evidence. He also found that a nexus could be drawn between Parlier and the items police sought as possible evidence.
It was not unreasonable for authorities to believe video and photos could be transferred from a video camera and stored on electronic devices not mentioned by the alleged victims, he said.
An April 5 hearing is set to review the status of the case.