Pre-trial probation for Tisbury man accused of indecent assault

— File photo by Tim Johnson

Daniel P. Parker, arrested in February and arraigned on three charges of indecent assault and battery on a child under the age of 14, was placed on pre-trial probation and his case continued for 18 months during an appearance in Edgartown District Court Friday.

Cape & Islands assistant district attorney Tara Miltimore and defense attorney Conrad Bletzer of the Boston law firm Bletzer & Bletzer, P.C., agreed to recommend that disposition, and Presiding Justice H. Gregory Williams accepted the recommendation.

The conditions of his probation are that he stay away from the child, and from an adult guardian, and not have any contact with them.

“This case has been, obviously, well discussed between counsel in the matter, and with myself,” Judge Williams said in the brief disposition hearing. Mr. Parker’s pre-trial probation will end on June 11, 2014. “What this means is that when that date rolls around, June 11, 2014, if you have not been subject to any further criminal proceedings and you abided by the special conditions outlined in this order of pre-trial release,” Judge Williams told Mr. Parker from the bench, “and those conditions have been fulfilled, this case will be dismissed.”

If Mr. Parker violates the terms of his probation, prosecutors could put the case back on track for a trial.

Maintains innocence

Ms. Miltimore declined comment on her recommendation for pre-trial probation.

Mr. Parker declined comment, but asked his attorney to speak for him. “What this means is that my client maintains his innocence,” Mr. Bletzer said after the hearing. “It’s not an admission. I’ve always believed he was innocent, he maintains his innocence, he still has the presumption of innocence.”

Tisbury Detective Mark Santon, who was the lead investigator in the case, said indecent assault cases are often difficult to prosecute.

“We feel we had a viable case,” Det. Santon said outside the courthouse, “but putting the child on the stand might be detrimental. Both sides would be taking a gamble.”

Dozens of people sent letters to the court in support of Mr. Parker. He sat with his family in the courtroom Friday. Also in the courtroom for support was former Superior Court Justice John Paul Sullivan. The retired jurist has a home in Edgartown.

Did not fit

Mr. Parker, 59 at the time of his arrest in Tisbury, is well known in the community. He was a volunteer assistant basketball coach at the Edgartown School, coached in a limited capacity at the Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown, and was active with groups at his church, the Federated Church in Edgartown.

Friends said the charges did not fit their experience with Mr. Parker, and he had cleared several background checks before his arrest.

Just after Mr. Parker’s arrest in February, Jerry Fritz, his pastor at Federated Church, described in emotional terms his reaction.

“I just have to tell you,” Mr. Fritz told The Times, “reading the accounts in the newspaper, I’m overwhelmed. I cannot fathom the man that I know doing anything like this. It is just so unlike who I know him to be. When a child speaks about those things, we need to take it very seriously,” he said. “I also think that when the adult says this is not the case, we need to not act too quickly to burn them at the stake.”

The police report describes Mr. Parker as an informal caretaker “who has had occasional, unsupervised access to the boy for mentoring purposes, since approximately the beginning of September 2011.”

According to the police report, two of the indecent assaults took place in September 2011, and the third in January 2012. The assaults occurred in the apartment of the boy’s grandfather, in Mr. Parker’s apartment, and in Mr. Parker’s truck.

A police investigation began after the boy confided in a neighbor. On January 26, the boy told a female neighbor that “he is sick of Dan touching him and doesn’t want him to touch him anymore,” according to the report.