Aaron Crane granted day parole after incarceration for sexual interference

·3 min read
Aaron Crane, a noted Island fiddle player and music instructor, had repeated sexual contact with a teenaged girl who took music lessons from him. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)
Aaron Crane, a noted Island fiddle player and music instructor, had repeated sexual contact with a teenaged girl who took music lessons from him. (Brian Higgins/CBC - image credit)

A P.E.I. musician and former music teacher who was serving a six-year prison sentence for sex crimes against a minor has been granted day parole.

Aaron Crane, 39, will "reside at the residence of close family members" while on day parole for six months, to be followed by full parole, according to the April 4 decision of the Parole Board of Canada.

The documents provided to CBC News do not say whether the residence is located on the Island or elsewhere.

The parole board decision followed a hearing at which Crane's victim testified.

"The victim spoke of the level of pain you have caused and the degree of control you had exerted over her," reads the nine-page written decision.

"She spoke of a stolen childhood, absent of the normal pro-social relationships a teenager has ... nightmares, anxiety and stress caused by the effects of her involvement with you ... [She] has changed her name in hopes of people not knowing of her involvement with you."

One-third of prison sentence served

Crane's parole comes one-third of the way into his six-year prison sentence. He was sent to prison in January 2021, after pleading guilty to sexual interference involving a person under 16.

The parole board reviewed the salient elements of Crane's offence.

He first met his young female victim when she enrolled for private music lessons. They later had interactions at a theatre where Crane worked as a musician and performer.

One day after Crane was found alone with the girl "slow dancing" in the theatre, he was fired. The victim later revealed that for months, Crane had been picking her up from school and taking her to his apartment for sex.

"You broke professional boundaries, groomed your victim .. convincing her the two of you were in a romantic relationship," reads the parole decision. "The level of manipulation, deception and intentional planning on your part speaks to the seriousness of the office."

But the parole board also concluded Crane has "expressed genuine shame and remorse" and has made measurable progress toward rehabilitation.

'Reintegration potential' rated as high

"You stated that early success as a musician  ... contributed to an arrogance and sense of importance that eventually allowed you to feel that you could get away with things. You are able to recognize and properly identify the justifications and rationalizations that allowed you to have a relationship with a minor," reads the decision.

Crane's progress includes attending a "moderate intensity sex offender program." His "reintegration potential" is rated as high.

"Your case management team believes you have the necessary skills and tools to manage your risk to re-offend," reads the decision.

'Will likely never' teach music again

The parole board cited case-worker notes on Crane as a person who "has learned a hard lesson, owned your actions and spent a lot of time hating yourself for what you have done."

While in prison, Crane gave music lessons to other inmates and played at prison church services.

"You acknowledged that you have lost a great deal, and will likely never be able to teach music or resume any part of the lifestyle you once enjoyed," the report said.

Day parole lets Crane participate in community-based activities, but he will return nightly to his designated residence. Full parole will allow Crane to continue to live in a private residence, under the on-going supervision of a parole officer.

Crane is ordered to have no contact or communication with his victim or with any person under the age of 16 without supervision. He is also ordered to stay away from parks and playgrounds and all other places where children congregate, without the permission of parole authorities.

Local police did not express opposition to Crane's release plan, according to the parole board.

A $1.5-million lawsuit by the victim and her family against Aaron Crane, the producers of the musical Anne and Gilbert, and the P.E.I. Arts Guild remains on file in P.E.I. Supreme Court.

The victim's family's lawyer declined comment on the status of the case.