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Eliot Cutler gets 9 months in jail after judge accepts plea deal

Eliot Cutler (right) makes an appearance in court on Thursday.
Caitlin Andrews
Maine Public
Eliot Cutler (right) makes an appearance in court on Thursday.

Former gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler was sentenced to serve nine months in jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to four counts of possessing sexually explicit material involving a child under the age of 12.

Last year, investigators found more than 80,000 pictures and videos of child sexual abuse at Cutler's homes in Portland and Brooklin, according to a sentencing memo.

As part of a plea agreement, Cutler will also spend six years on probation and pay $5,000 dollars to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. In addition, all of his electronic devices will be monitored.

The sentencing ends a story that rocked Maine's political scene. Cutler, a wealthy businessman who ran twice for governor in 2010 and 2014, was an aide for Maine's U.S. Sen. Edmund Muskie and served in various positions under President Jimmy Carter. He was the founding chief executive officer of the University of Maine System's graduate professional studies center.

Judge Robert Murray reflected on Cutler's fall from grace, saying his position as a well-respected political and legal figure in Maine only heightened the notoriety of his crimes.

"I am hopeful that you take this to heart. And I am hopeful that there can be some good from the shame you experience here today," he told Cutler.

Mitigating factors in the sentence included Cutler's cooperation with investigators, his participation in counseling and his lack of prior criminal record. Cutler told the court that he deeply regrets his actions and he apologized to the victims.

"My behavior helped to support an industry built upon their abuse. And I hope with all my heart that they can find healing and dignity. That my behavior was the consequence of an addiction is no excuse," he said.

Hancock County District Attorney Robert Granger told reporters that Cutler's age, 76, and a cancer diagnosis were also factors in Cutler's sentence.

Granger acknowledged that the state could have pushed for a longer sentence. But he also noted the state is facing a three-year backlog that could have kept the case from going to trial at all.

"If you want defendants to face justice, you want it to be resolved before Mr. Cutler is no longer with us," he said.

Cutler is scheduled to begin his sentence June 1.

Reporter Caitlin Andrews came to Maine Public in 2023 after nearly eight years in print journalism. She hails from New Hampshire originally.