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Eliot Cutler had ‘thousands of videos’ of child sex abuse, police say

Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, in Portland, Maine.
Joel Page
Independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler speaks at a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010, in Portland, Maine.

If you or someone you know needs resources or support related to sexual violence, contact the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault’s 24/7 hotline at 800-871-7741.

Documents in the case against Eliot Cutler were unsealed Tuesday, revealing a disturbing pattern of child pornography consumption.

After being forwarded a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, police in January found a video of an adult man sexually assaulting a girl who was between 4 and 6 years old in an online storage account belonging to Cutler, according to a state police investigation of the former gubernatorial candidate. Dropbox, the provider of the storage account, had notified the national organization about the existence of the video in December.

Police later found flash storage drives with “literally thousands of videos of very young children being sexually abused” at Cutler’s home in Brooklin, Glenn Lang of the Maine State Police wrote in the arrest warrant affidavit.

Cutler’s Portland home was also searched, though it hasn’t been disclosed what, if anything, was found there. And thus far, no charges have been filed in Portland court.

Prior to searching Cutler’s homes, police were provided access by Dropbox to Cutler’s account. They found in the account’s history that hundreds of pictures and videos of a teenage girl who was coerced into sharing sexual images of herself from when she was 15 to 17 years old had been downloaded to the Dropbox account in April 2019 but were deleted two years later, police wrote in court documents.

The images were widely shared online illegally before Cutler allegedly obtained them, police said.

Police searched through 447 gigabytes worth of data stored in Cutler’s Dropbox account, much of which appeared to be items backed up from his computers and other devices. They found hundreds of other documents, photos and videos from his 2014 campaign for governor, “vast numbers” of pictures of Cutler and his family. There was also an email with information about a visa application to Vietnam for Cutler, though when that application was submitted was not noted.

The digital evidence led Maine State Police to obtain a search warrant to seize and search electronic devices found at his homes in Brooklin and Portland. Police searched the homes on March 23. In Brooklin, they seized 30 digital devices that may have been used to connect with Cutler’s online account, including an iPod, laptops, desktops, external hard drives, thumb drives, two electronic cameras and several flash cards.

When police arrived at his Brooklin home, “Cutler told his wife that the search warrant was for child pornography and we would probably find some on one of his computers,” Lang wrote in a subsequent arrest warrant.

While police searched the home, Cutler sat at a kitchen table and more than once asked police if he could have his phone, but was told he could not. He also told police that he could show them “where things are” and that “there was nothing in the kitchen.”

Lang noted in the arrest warrant that Cutler should have to surrender his passport and face a “very high cash bail” in order to be released.

“I feel because of Mr. Cutler’s high volume of very young child pornography and extreme wealth while facing a felony prosecution he is a very high flight risk,” Lang wrote.

Cutler was arrested on March 25, two days after his homes were searched, and was released the following day on $50,000 cash bail. It’s unclear if he had to also surrender his passport.

Several documents related to the investigation, including the inventory of what police seized during the search in Brooklin had been impounded by Justice Robert Murray before Tuesday, when they were made publicly available.

Also on Tuesday, Murray granted a request by Cutler’s attorney, Walter McKee, that Cutler be allowed to access the internet with one smartphone and one computer so that he can log in to his bank accounts and conduct other routine functions. The serial numbers for the phone and computer will be kept on file with officials involved in the case and will be outfitted with programs that monitor Cutler’s internet usage in real time.

This story appears through a partnership with the Bangor Daily News.

Corrected: May 4, 2022 at 12:24 PM EDT
Because of a Maine Public editing error, an earlier version misidentified the name of this article's author.