Lawrence Winger, a well-regarded lawyer who lives in Falmouth and has an office in Portland, was arrested Wednesday morning and charged with possessing child pornography.
Maine State Police said Winger, 63, turned himself in at the Cumberland County Jail, nine days after Computer Crimes Unit searches of his home at 12 Bay Shore Drive and his office on Pearl Street. The searches yielded a laptop computer and two external hard drives, one of which contained dozens of images and videos of prepubescent children engaged in sexual activity, police said.
None of the images appeared to be of Maine victims, authorities said.
Winger was cooperative during the searches, said Detective Justin Kittredge of the Computer Crimes Unit, who made the arrest.
Winger was accompanied by his lawyer, Neale Duffett, when he surrendered Wednesday, and was released on $500 bail. The case will be turned over to the Cumberland County District Attorney’s Office for prosecution, Kittredge said.
Police said images of child pornography available over the Internet were traced some time ago to an IP address for a computer at Winger’s home. They executed a search warrant there Aug. 18, but the laptop and hard drives they sought were not there.
Winger consented to a search of his office, where the devices were found, and even showed investigators where the pornographic files were stored on a hard drive, said Sgt. Laurie Northrup, a Computer Crimes Unit supervisor.
“He admitted deliberately keeping” the hard drive containing the pornography, Northrup said.
Police said Winger is charged with possessing sexually explicit images of children under 12, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison. It’s more serious than the state charge of possessing sexual images of children ages 13 to 15, which is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail.
Winger did not immediately respond to a message left Wednesday on the answering machine at his law office.
Winger, who is married and has two grown children, is a respected attorney in the field of labor and employment law who sometimes presents seminars on the subject.
He interacted with several colleagues at the Maine HR Convention during the past week in Rockland.
Several lawyers contacted Wednesday declined to talk about Winger or the charge he faces.
Winger graduated magna cum laude from Yale with a degree in economics in 1972, and cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1975, according to a profile accompanying a blog he wrote about employment law. He also authored the “Maine Employer’s Handbook.”
Winger has represented clients in several high-profile cases.
He was the attorney for Jordan’s Meats when it was sued by an employee, a refugee from Afghanistan and who said he regularly suffered religious and racial harassment at the Portland company. A federal jury ruled in 2005 that the man’s rights were violated but he was not entitled to monetary damages, a decision later upheld by an appeals court.
Winger also defended the city of Westbrook against discrimination claims by a female firefighter. Her claims were upheld by the Maine Human Rights Commission.
He represented Hannaford Bros. when an Oakland man sued the grocery chain for refusing to sell him alcohol. Store employees said the man had slurred speech and a rambling gait, which turned out to be the result of a car crash 10 years earlier. A federal court ruled in the man’s favor, and the company changed its alcohol sales policy.
According to his blog profile, Winger was chairman of the Human Resources Committee of the Maine Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1993 to 1995.
He is a member of the Maine Bar Association and the Maine Trial Lawyers Association.
Winger has no previous criminal record in Maine, according to the state Bureau of Identification.