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Eliot Cutler arrested following search of two properties, prosecutor says

Cutler, 75, is charged with four felony counts of possession of unlawful sexually explicit materials of subjects younger than 12.

PORTLAND, Maine — Prominent Maine political figure Eliot Cutler was arrested Friday on child pornography charges. 

Cutler is facing four counts of possession of unlawful sexually explicit materials Class C, which means subjects are younger than 12-years-old, Matthew J. Foster, district attorney for Hancock and Washington counties, told NEWS CENTER Maine.

The arrest comes days after police executed search warrants at his homes on Pine Street in Portland and on Naskeag Point in Brooklin. 

Maine Department of Public Safety spokesperson Shannon Moss confirmed that Cuter was arrested by troopers at his home in Brooklin after a two-month investigation.

Foster said police first received a tip in December from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children involving a single photo.

A search of devices this week resulted in at least 10 more files, according to Foster. 

Cutler was released on bail Saturday afternoon according to an official with the Hancock County Jail. The bail was set at $50,000. Foster said additional charges are expected.

Cutler's attorney, Walter McKee was seen visiting his client at the Hancock County Jail Friday. When asked by reporters if he would make bail he responded "$50,000 is a lot of money," but would not comment further. 

Cutler, 75, is best known for running as an independent candidate for governor in 2010 and 2014. 

During his first run, Cutler exceeded expectations with the endorsement of Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, but ultimately lost to Republican opponent Paul LePage.

Despite garnering a small percentage of the vote in 2010, running against LePage and Democrat Libby Mitchell, Cutler was viewed by many as a spoiler, whose run helped elect LePage. The scenario played out similarly in 2014 when Cutler ran again against Democrat Mike Michaud and incumbent LePage.

The impact of Cutler’s run during those gubernatorial races is believed to have helped pave the way for ranked-choice voting to be used in Maine elections.

In the late 1970s, Cutler worked as a businessman and lawyer with experience in the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter. He also served in Maine Sen. Ed Muskie’s office.

Cutler called Muskie his “cardinal inspiration” in an interview with Maine magazine in 2011.

Most recently, he was named CEO of the University of Maine System’s Professional and Graduate Center Initiative in April 2015. His goals included working to boost enrollment and strengthen the system’s graduate programs. He resigned from that position in 2017.

Cutler resigned from his role on the board of the Lender Foundation Wednesday, according to Executive Director Don Carpenter.

"We were deeply disturbed to learn about the serious accusations brought against Eliot Cutler today," Carpenter said in a statement posted to the organization's website Friday. "In his former role on the Board of Directors, Eliot was involved in high-level strategy and governance and did not directly interface with students who participated in grant funded programming."

The foundation's mission is "raising post-secondary aspirations in rural Maine communities." 

Cutler is expected to make his first court appearance Monday.

Cutler's attorney, Walter McKee, had no comment when reached Friday.

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