Former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler, seen in November 2010, was arrested at his home in Brooklin on March 25, 2022, and charged with possessing child pornography.  Associated Press photo by Joel Page

Prosecutors and a defense attorney for Eliot Cutler met Thursday to discuss the criminal case against the former gubernatorial candidate. He is charged with possessing child sex abuse material on multiple electronic devices.

The informal meeting with a judge in Ellsworth is a routine step in the court process, but it’s typically not open to the public. It allows prosecutors and defense attorneys to discuss issues in a case without the need for a full hearing.

Eliot Cutler following his arrest in March.  Hancock County Jail

Cutler, 76, faces four counts of possession of sexually explicit material of a minor under 12, each a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. He was arrested in March shortly after officers from the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit executed search warrants at his homes in Brooklin and Portland.

Cutler, a third-party candidate who came within 10,000 votes of the Blaine House in 2010 and ran a second unsuccessful campaign four years later, has not spoken publicly since his arrest. He is free on $50,000 cash bail, and in May, a judge granted his request to use the internet and a smartphone with strict monitoring of his online activity by a third-party company hired by Cutler.

Although nearly eight months have passed since he was first charged, Cutler has not yet been indicted by a grand jury, a necessary step for the felony case to proceed. Calls to Hancock County prosecutors and Cutler’s attorney, Walt McKee, asking to discuss the case were not returned Thursday.

Some cases that involve the possession or transfer of child sexual material are taken up by federal prosecutors, but so far there is no sign that’s the case for Cutler. Possession, distribution or the creation of child sex abuse material is illegal under both state and federal law, and federal prosecutors have prerogative over which cases they pursue.


Last week, the district attorney overseeing the case, Matthew Foster, lost his reelection bid and recused himself from the prosecution because Cutler’s attorney had also represented Foster in 2017 when Foster was investigated for sexual abuse of a child in 2017. No charges were filed in the case.

Since Cutler’s arrest, Deputy District Attorney Toff Toffolon has been handling the case and there was no indication in a docket record Thursday that any other prosecutor’s office would take over since Foster’s recusal.

When police met Cutler and told him they were looking for child exploitation material, he said they would find it, according to a police affidavit. The search yielded thousands of videos and images of the sexual abuse of children, state police said.

The investigation into Cutler was kicked off by an automated system that flags suspected child exploitation material when it’s uploaded or transferred through major internet service providers. The suspected material is screened by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which works as a federally designated intermediary between internet companies and the police.

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