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A judge on Tuesday granted a motion by Eliot Cutler’s defense attorney for permission to access the internet.
Eliot Cutler, a two-candidate for Maine governor who came within 10,000 votes of being elected in 2010, is facing four felony charges of possessing sexually explicit material involving a child under age 12. Through his attorney, Walter McKee, Cutler waived his right to appear during the hearing.
Justice Robert Murray amended Cutler’s bail to allow him to access the Internet under remote monitoring by a digital services company. In a motion filed last month, McKee said the company would regularly monitor Cutler’s internet usage and provide reports about his usage to prosecutors.
Norman “Toff” Toffolon, deputy district attorney for Hancock County, told Murray that the state had no position on Cutler’s request. He did say that if Cutler was unable to stay away from sexual content on the internet, the state would vigorously seek to revoke Cutler’s bail and to send him back to jail until his case is resolved.
Police investigative reports indicate that Cutler has “a longstanding, severe and untreated addiction to child pornography,” Toffolon told the judge.
Murray approved the motion, saying that the serial numbers for one smartphone and one computer that Cutler can use must be kept on file with officials involved in the case.
After the hearing, McKee said that Murray’s decision to amend bail was “appropriate,” because Cutler needs internet access to conduct banking and other normal daily activities.
“It’s been difficult, as you might expect,” to not be able to use a computer, McKee said.
Cutler is expected to appear in court in July and may enter a plea at the time, McKee said, assuming he is indicted by a Hancock County grand jury in June.
On March 23, police executed search warrants at homes Cutler owns in Brooklin and Portland after Maine law enforcement officials received a tip regarding the viewing of child pornography — one of more than 1,200 they received in 2021 from a national nonprofit group that serves as a national clearinghouse for leads on such cases.
When police arrived at his home in Brooklin, they witnessed Cutler telling his wife Melanie Stewart that police were going to find child pornography on at least one electronic device, Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster has said.
Cutler was arrested two days later at his home in Brooklin. He was taken to the Hancock County Jail in Ellsworth and was released on $50,000 cash bail the following day.
A wealthy lawyer who grew up in Bangor, Cutler ran for governor as an independent and in 2010 narrowly lost to Paul Lepage, with Democrat Libby Mitchell finishing 3rd in voting. Cutler ran again in 2014, but finished third that year with only 8 percent of the vote, well behind Lepage and Democrat Michael Michaud.
Cutler is the highest-profile person ever prosecuted in Maine on child porn charges. James M. Cameron, a former top drug prosecutor for the state of Maine, was sentenced in 2014 to serve nearly 16 years in federal prison after he had been convicted of child porn charges at trial and then fled to New Mexico while out on bail.