PARIS – A judge has ruled that items seized from a former SAD 72 substitute teacher accused of possessing child pornography are admissible as evidence.

Justice Joyce A. Wheeler filed the ruling with the Oxford County Superior Court on Thursday. She had been reviewing the case since defense attorney Walter McKee and Assistant District Attorney Joe O’Connor made their presentations on the matter July 9.

Telford, 69, of 53 Tracy Lane in Center Lovell, was indicted in February of possession of sexually explicit materials of a minor under the age of 12. Last October, Sgt. Matthew Baker of the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office obtained a search warrant for Telford’s residence after a housekeeper who worked there every other week reported concerns about materials there.

The housekeeper said she found several spiral notebooks near his computers that contained names, phone numbers, profiles and descriptions of boys, airline flight lists, several Web site addresses, and pornographic titles.

The housekeeper also said Telford only displayed pictures of children in the house and asked her if she knew any boys who could do chores for him.

Police seized five computers as well as CDs, DVDs, movies and books, according to McKee. The Maine Computer Crimes Task Force discovered tens of thousands of pornographic images and more than 300 digital movie files, some containing children under 12, according to Baker.

Several of the children in the materials were identified by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, but none were local.

In a motion to suppress evidence filed in April, McKee argued that Baker’s affidavit for a search warrant did not say whether the Web sites were pornographic. He also said there was no evidence linking Telford’s computers with child pornography and that the housekeeper had stated that she never saw any child pornography in the residence.

O’Connor replied that the materials in Telford’s residence were enough to merit a search, citing a DVD case with pictures of four boys ages 7 to 9 the housekeeper found near a computer. He said the addresses were for preteen Web sites featuring 5- to 6-year-olds.

McKee stated that the search was based on “stale” information, since the housekeeper’s last visit to Telford’s residence was three to 10 days prior to the search.

O’Connor replied that another child pornography case in the state had used evidence seized 80 days after it was first seen by a witness.

Wheeler agreed with the conclusions O’Connor had reached, including his argument that McKee was relying on an outdated case to define probable cause. She said that while the housekeeper did not see any child pornography in Telford’s residence, that is not a requirement for a search to take place.

“Baker’s affidavit reflects more than just suspicions,” Wheeler stated. “It provides a substantial basis for finding of probable cause that Telford possessed sexually explicit materials that depicted sexual conduct with children.”

Possession of child pornography is a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.


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