Former Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler pleads guilty to child porn charges

A wealthy attorney who made a name for himself in the nation’s capital before returning home to Maine to run for governor vowed to seek redemption Thursday as a judge accepted his plea agreement for possession of thousands of images of child sexual abuse. Eliot Cutler, who came close to being elected governor in 2010, said he apologized for his actions and to victims. The 76-year-old said he would devote his remaining years to redemption. Cutler added he had opportunities to reach out for help but neglected to do so and was “embarrassed, ashamed, and deeply, deeply sorry” for his actions. “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,” Cutler said. MAINE POLITICIAN, FORMER GOVERNOR HOPEFUL ELIOT CUTLER TO SERVE 9 MONTHS FOR CHILD PORN The agreement calls for Cutler to serve nine months in jail after pleading guilty to four counts of possessing sexually explicit material of a child under 12. It marked a remarkable fall for a man who once served as an aide to the late Sen. Edmund Muskie, as the top energy and environmental adviser to then-President Jimmy Carter, and launched a powerful environmental law firm in Washington, D.C. His attorney said he hoped Cutler’s achievements wouldn’t be nullified by his addiction to pornography, while Cutler said he accepted responsibility for his actions. Law enforcement officials said they found more than 80,000 images of children under 12 on Cutler’s electronic devices, and his lawyer said Cutler acknowledged downloading hundreds of images at a time of children being sexually assaulted. After his arrest, Cutler spent some time in a residential treatment center for sex offenders, and his attorney said Cutler never engaged in inappropriate conduct with children. But advocates for child sexual abuse victims were having none of it. “No matter how you cut it, Cutler helped fund, and thus support, ongoing sexual violence against children by peering at the naked images of children forced to perform sexual acts,” said Paul Kendrick, of Freeport. “The otherwise healthy lives of victims of child pornography are wrecked forever.” Cutler was freed after his arrest last year at his waterfront home in Brooklin, a coastal community 130 miles from Portland. He reports to jail on June 1. Judge Robert Murray said he is hopeful that something good could still come from the shame of Cutler’s fall from grace. “The good which comes from this shame depends entirely upon you and how you respond. You’ve alluded to that in your remarks. I can’t measure your sincerity in that regard. That will only be proven with the passage of time.” FORMER MAINE GOVERNOR CANDIDATE GUARANTEED PRISON TIME IN CHILD PORN PLEA DEAL The terms of the plea agreement state that Cutler would be prohibited from possessing sexually explicit materials, would have his online activities monitored and would have limited ability to be around children. He would also have to register as a sexual offender for life. Cutler returned to Maine after helping to fond Cutler & Stanfield LLP, which later merged with an international law firm. He used his personal wealth to bankroll two campaigns for governor as an independent. He narrowly lost — by less than 2 percentage points — to Republican Paul LePage in 2010 and lost again by a much larger margin in 2014. In 2021, Cutler sold his oceanfront mansion in Cape Elizabeth for $7.55 million to a nephew of former President George H.W. Bush. After his arrest, he sold another home that he owned in Portland, Maine’s largest city.
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