Eliot Cutler remains in jail Saturday on child porn charges

Two-time gubernatorial candidate Eliot R. Cutler remained in jail Saturday after he was arrested Friday on charges he possessed child exploitation material. The Hancock County Jail confirmed that Cutler, a wealthy attorney, was still there Saturday morning and had not made bail. Cutler’s bail was set at $50,000, twice what prosecutors requested.

Cutler, 75, of Brooklyn, faces four counts of possession of sexually explicit material of a minor under 12, Hancock County District Attorney Matt J. Foster said.

That list of charges might grow as investigators sift through terabytes of information seized during two searches before Cutler’s arrest. Troopers from the Maine State Police took him into custody at his Brooklyn farm without incident Friday and transported him to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth.

The four counts are Class C felonies, punishable by up to five years in prison. Foster said detectives identified 10 files of sexual exploitative material depicting children that police had seen before in other cases.

Foster said the arrest affidavit cited the 10 files of known child exploitation material found in Cutler’s possession. There was no indication there are local victims and police are still sifting through what has been seized.

The arrest affidavit will be held under seal until Cutler makes his first appearance in court. It’s unclear yet when Cutler will see a judge, Foster said. If Cutler does not make bail this weekend, it could be as soon as Monday.

If he is released before the weekend is up, the first appearance will be pushed to a later date, and his attorney, Walt McKee, will likely enter an appearance on his behalf, meaning Cutler will not have to show up himself.

McKee confirmed the arrest shortly after police took Cutler into custody but declined to discuss the contents of the search warrants. He also cast doubt on whether his client would be released this weekend. McKee rushed to Ellsworth after Cutler’s arrest and visited with him inside the jail.

“Given the incredibly high bail of $50,000 cash, set on a Friday night after banks are closed no less, it is unclear whether the bail will be posted,” McKee wrote in a text message.

Eliot Cutler’s home at 523 Naskeag Point Road, Brooklyn. Photo courtesy of Compass Point Real Estate

The investigation began with a tip in December when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children sent Maine State Police investigators information that someone in Maine had downloaded or uploaded an illegal image.

To find who downloaded or uploaded the illegal image, police then work backward to connect a person or address with the internet-connected device. That followed a two-month investigation by police. Maine State Police spokesperson Shannon Moss confirmed that Cutler’s homes at 84 Pine St. in Portland and at 523 Naskeag Point Road in Brooklyn were searched on Wednesday.

Eliot Cutler’s townhouse at 84 Pine St. in Portland’s West End. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

Cutler declined to speak with a Press Herald reporter who reached him Wednesday by phone. A message seeking an interview with his wife, Dr. Melanie S. Cutler, a psychiatrist who used to practice in Portland, was not returned after his arrest Friday.

The couple lived together for many years in a 15,000-square-foot mansion on Shore Road in Cape Elizabeth, which they sold last year.

Cutler is a Bangor native and twice ran unsuccessfully for Maine governor, in 2010 and 2014. Prior to that, he was a longtime attorney, mostly in Washington, DC Before that, he worked for US Sen. Edmund Muskie, a Democrat from Maine, and in the administration of President Jimmy Carter.

Following his second campaign for governor, Cutler was hired by the University of Maine System to help launch a business and law school.

Cutler ran as an independent candidate for governor in 2010 against Republican Paul LePage and Democrat Elizabeth Mitchell. In that race, Cutler narrowly lost to LePage, with Cutler getting 208,270 votes and LePage receiving 218,065 votes.

In 2014 Cutler again ran as an independent candidate for governor against Democrat Mike Michaud and LePage. In this race LePage beat Cutler with a wide margin, 294,519 to 51,515. Michaud received 265,114 votes. In both elections Democrats considered Cutler a spoiler, a label with which Cutler disagreed.

This story will be updated.

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