Bloomington Police are asking parents to come forward if their children took piano lessons from a local teacher who’s accused of sexually abusing six children and secretly taping at least some of the incidents.
Aaron M. Parlier, who taught lessons and tuned pianos in Bloomington-Normal for years, faces 38 counts of sexual assault, abuse, and child pornography. The charges allege misconduct spanning more than a decade, stopping only in January when he was arrested. He was arrested after initial allegations from a single victim, and new charges have since been filed as more victims have stepped forward.
Police spokesperson Elias Mendiola said Thursday that several hidden cameras were recently found in Parlier’s apartment where he taught piano lessons. If you or your child came to Parlier’s apartment, you are encouraged to contact Detective John Heinlen at (309) 434-2672 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parlier was charged Wednesday with 25 new counts, including 14 counts of child pornography, alleging he filmed himself with his teenage victims. Parlier is also charged with predatory criminal sexual assault of a child (11 counts), criminal sexual assault (nine counts), and aggravated criminal sexual abuse (four counts).
The charges allege misconduct dating back to between 2006-2008. The child pornography charges allege Parlier, 37, possessed video—up until his time of arrest—of himself having illegal sexual contact with someone under age 18. Several of the child pornography and predatory criminal sexual assault charges are Class X felonies, carrying a stiffer mandatory sentence if convicted.
It’s unclear how many of the six victims were Parlier’s former students. At least two were, authorities previously told GLT. It’s possible there will be more charges and more victims, authorities said.
"We go where the evidence takes us," McLean County State's Attorney Jason Chambers said Thursday. "If new evidence leads to that, we'll certainly consider that."
Some victims suppress traumatic memories for an extended time, only to be reported once something triggers them, said Mendiola. Others simply don’t know how to talk about abuse, especially children.
“That’s the unfortunate part,” Mendiola said. “Cases like this, there’s a high percentage where the abused—the victim—doesn’t report it for myriad reasons. It’s very possible (there are more victims) since we know by our training and experience that a vast majority of victims don’t come forward at all. It’s definitely possible.”
An attorney for Parlier issued a statement Thursday.
"The State has had this evidence for months, and is only now bringing this storm of charges after waiting more than a month to even arrest him," said attorney Brendan Bukalski. "We will not be intimidated into a plea, and look forward to having our day in court."
Parlier, who last lived in Pekin, is the owner of Aaron’s Piano Service LLC, state records show. Parlier was believed to be teaching piano independently—not affiliated with another local business—Mendiola said.
Through that company, Parlier did work for Unit 5 school district in 2014, 2015, and 2016, records show. It’s unclear what work he did for Unit 5, although Parlier was a known piano tuner in Bloomington-Normal. Unit 5 is closed for spring break and a spokesperson was unable to comment.
Parlier previously worked for Horine’s Pianos Plus in Bloomington. He’s listed in newspaper archives as a manager, technician, and piano teacher at Horine’s between 2004-2007. It’s unclear when his employment at Horine’s ended.
The alleged abuse apparently took place mostly in Bloomington. Normal Assistant Police Chief Eric Klingele said none of the alleged incidents took place in Normal and that Bloomington Police was the lead investigating agency. One of the victims approached a school resource officer at Normal Community High School, but it was determined that the alleged incident occurred in Bloomington, Klingele said.
Mendiola with BPD said this case can serve as a reminder to parents about protecting their children from potential sexual predators. Predators often try to groom a future victim by first building trust and affection with the child’s parents, he said. Parents should talk to their children at a young age about appropriate kinds of touching, as well as limit one-on-one situations with unfamiliar people, Mendiola said.
“More than anything, it’s important to have an open dialogue with our children so they do feel safe and if they’re going to report something, it’s very important in our initial reaction—studies have shown—how a child will then continue to open up or feel that their feelings are being validated when they do bring those things forward,” Mendiola said.
Parlier is being held on $1 million bond. He is due back in court for a status hearing April 24.
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