Music teacher in Parma sentenced to 50 years in prison for producing child pornography

Posted 3 August 2021 at 8:27 pm

Press Release, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr., Western District of New York

ROCHESTER – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Philip M. Close, 43, of Rochester, who pleaded guilty 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, was sentenced to serve 50 years in prison by U.S. District Judge Charles A. Siragusa.

“As a result of this sentence, this defendant will likely spend most or all of the rest of his life behind bars,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Let this case serve as an example to any individual in a position of trust with children—if you seek to exploit children to satisfy your own perverse interests, be prepared to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and potentially to lose your freedom forever.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Meghan K. McGuire, who handled 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 those 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 sentencing 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.