Aaron Biber stood in line like everyone else at the security checkpoint on the ground floor of the Hennepin County Courthouse yesterday. Flanked by a pair of lawyers, and dressed in tan slacks, a dress shirt unbuttoned at the collar and a heavy blue overcoat, he kept his hands clasped behind his back. Now and then, as the trio chatted in hushed tones, he would shift his gaze out the bustling atrium. There, on the other side of a glass partition, a handful of men with cameras pointed their long lenses back at him, recording his every move.
This former high-flying business attorney's life came crashing down in December after a 14-year-old boy came forward to say that one day in October, Biber had plied him with alcohol, and that the two of them had engaged in a two-hour session of oral and anal sex rough enough to injure the boy one day in October. In the days leading up to the arrest, police had monitored Biber's communications with the boy, and recorded a sordid series of messages that included Biber complementing the boy on the size of his genitals.
At one point, police say, Biber sent the boy a picture of his own erect penis. They arrested him on Dec. 11 at the Eden Prairie Mall, where he had arranged to meet with the boy.
A few days later, after a brief stay in the Hennepin County jail, Biber appeared before Judge Karen Janisch in an orange jail jumpsuit, charged with two felony counts of criminal sexual conduct. He listened as Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Judi Johnston laid out her case: The husband and father with a swank Shorewood address had known his victim for four years, had groomed him for the encounter, and gotten the child so drunk that he couldn't keep an erection while the two were having sex.
Johnston sought a $1 million bond. Biber's defense attorney, Rachel Goldberger, countered that her client was being singled out for such a harsh penalty because he was a prominent attorney. Janisch set bail at $500,000 and ordered Biber to stay a mile away from the teenager and his family, and to have no contact with any minors other than his own children. He made bail a short time later and was released.
Within days, Biber lost his position as treasurer of the Minnesota Bar Association, and his job with the Minneapolis law firm of Gray Plant Mooty, where he was a principal and practiced business law.
On Tuesday he headed back to court.
Clearing the security scanner, Biber picked his personal effects out of a plastic basket and made for the bank of elevators with his lawyers. They stepped inside, away from the prying eyes of the cameras, and stood in silence as they sped up to the 10th floor and courtroom C1060. There, in a brief hearing, Judge Mark Wernick told Biber his trial would start July 19.