AUBURN — The former publisher of a local magazine and organizer of a community film festival who served on the Auburn City Council appeared in court Thursday for the first time since being charged with possessing child pornography.

Joshua Shea, 38, of 30 Paul St. will remain free on $500 cash bail with conditions, including no contact with anyone under age 18. He’s also barred from having access to digital media or the Internet.

Prosecutors last month said they were sorting through “a lot of material” from the Maine Computer Crimes Task Force, which seized Shea’s computer on March 20, the day he was arrested and charged with possessing sexually explicit materials, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.

Deputy District Attorney Andrew Robinson has said he expects to seek an indictment against Shea when he presents the case to a grand jury in September or later, possibly seeking additional charges.

Shea’s attorney, David Van Dyke, said after his client’s appearance on Thursday at Androscoggin County Superior Court that Shea had been in a course of counseling since April at an intensive, out-of-state residential facility.

“He readily admits that he had some weaknesses that have been addressed,” Van Dyke said.

He said Shea is in a long-term course of counseling “that’s going to address the issues that led him to where he is now. I think he’s doing all the right things. None of us is perfect. It’s unfortunate that he didn’t recognize his issues before they came to where they are now. The issues are not the kind that one would think they are from the nature of the allegations. They are somewhat different things.”

Van Dyke said his client is “a high-performing guy. He looks to get past this and continue doing what he has done well in the future.”

Shea had been scheduled twice before to appear in court, but his case was continued.

After his arrest, the annual Lewiston Auburn Film Festival, which Shea helped found, was canceled after a number of filmmakers withdrew. In the following weeks, other festival organizers regrouped to create the Emerge Film Festival, which debuted in June to positive reviews.

Shea was fired in March from his job as publisher of Lewiston Auburn Magazine, whose offices have since closed. Several of the owners of that magazine are supporting Friday’s launch of a new Twin Cities area magazine called Current, according to a news release from Current spokesman Peter Flanders.

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