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Judge bars public access to Eliot Cutler's arrest warrant documents

Eliot Cutler
Hancock County Jail
Eliot Cutler

A judge has sealed the arrest warrants against Eliot Cutler, a former gubernatorial candidate charged with possession of child pornography.

In a request filed on Sunday, defense attorney Walt McKee argued that releasing the arrest warrant affidavits against Cutler and the ensuing media coverage would substantially jeopardize his client's ability to get a fair trial. Cutler was arrested at his house in Brooklin, Maine, on Friday, two days after state police executed a search warrant at homes he and his wife own in Brooklin and Portland. He was charged with four counts of felony possession of sexually explicit materials involving a child who is under age 12 and spent a night in the Hancock County jail before being released on Saturday after posting $50,000 bond.

“Public dissemination of the information in the affidavit in support of the arrest warrant would more than create a ‘reasonable possibility’ that the release could, and likely would, interfere with the ability of the court to impanel an impartial jury and conduct a fair trial, and would promote spite and public scandal of a person who has not yet been indicted,” McKee wrote in his request. “It would also potentially impede a continuing investigation.”

Superior Court Justice Robert Murray granted McKee's request and ordered the documents sealed for 90 days or until a grandy jury has indicted Cutler. His initial court appearance is scheduled for early May.

The 75-year-old was an independent candidate for governor in 2010 and 2014, running as a moderate after a long career in law and business.

Born in Bangor in 1946, Cutler got his first major exposure to politics while working for the late U.S. Edmund Muskie of Maine in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and was involved with drafting the landmark Clean Air Act. Cutler would go on to work in the Office of Management and Budget within the administration of President Jimmy Carter, focusing on energy and environmental issues. Cutler later co-founded what would grow into one of the largest environmental law firms in the country before it was acquired by the international firm Akin Gump in 2000. He worked around the world but had a particular focus on China for many years.

Cutler and his wife eventually bought an oceanfront house in Cape Elizabeth and moved back to Maine. He was a relative unknown in state politics when he joined the 2010 race for governor as an independent. He narrowly lost to Republican Gov. Paul LePage that year after surging in the final weeks but finished third behind LePage and Democratic nominee Mike Michaud in 2014.

Cutler remained active in philanthropic endeavors and worked for a time as the CEO of a professional graduate studies center for the University of Maine System in Portland.

Hancock County District Attorney Matthew Foster is handling the prosecution of the case against Cutler. Foster has suggested that more charges could be filed against Cutler as the investigation continues.