Rochester Music Teacher Pleads Guilty To 74 Charges, Including 61 Counts Of Production Of Child Pornography
CONTACT: Barbara Burns
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ROCHESTER, N.Y. - U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Philip M. Close, 43, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Charles A. Siragusa to a 74-count indictment, including 61 counts of production of child pornography and 13 counts of possession of material containing child pornography involving prepubescent minors. The charges carry a mandatory minimum penalty of 15 years in prison, a maximum 2,090 years in prison, and a $18,500,000 fine.
“The defendant occupied a position of trust with respect to his students,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “His perverse violation of that trust, together with our duty to protect our children, warrant the defendant being held fully accountable for all that he did, and full accountability is precisely what today’s plea ensures.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who is handling the case, stated that from 2016 to 2019, the defendant owned the Close School of Music on West Ridge Road in the Town of Parma and provided private music lessons to children of all ages. During that time, Close hid spy cameras throughout the school and secretly recorded the students, parents, and other teachers. Some of these cameras captured videos of the defendant inappropriately touching his students and himself during lessons. Close also placed two spy cameras in the school’s only bathroom: one under the toilet and one hidden in a watercooler facing the toilet. The defendant intentionally positioned these cameras to record the naked genitals of young girls when they stood up from the toilet. Prior to opening the Close School of Music in 2016, the defendant worked at a different music school. Between 2012 and 2016, he also placed a spy camera in the bathroom of that school and intentionally recorded the naked genitals of young girls when they went to the bathroom.
Between 2012 and 2019, Close produced hundreds of videos of child pornography involving 61 identified minor victims. The youngest victim was four years old. While executing search warrants at the Close School of Music, investigators also discovered 13 devices that contained other images and videos of child pornography.
The plea is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Child Exploitation Task Force, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, under the direction of Sheriff Todd Baxter; and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, under the direction of District Attorney Sandra Doorley.
Sentencing is scheduled for August 16, 2021, at 10:00 a.m. before Judge Siragusa.
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