AUGUSTA — A former Monmouth Middle School fifth grade teacher denied a charge today that he had school laptops loaded with photographs depicting nude children in sexually explicit positions.

Christopher B. Brown, 55, of Monmouth, entered his not guilty plea in Kennebec County Superior Court to the charge of possession of sexually explicit materials of children under age 12.

Brown was indicted  by a grand jury last month on the felony charge, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in jail and a $10,000 fine.

When he was initially arrested and charged on June 8, 2011, Brown had been teaching at Monmouth Middle School for more than a dozen years. The school department placed him on administrative leave. His lawyer, Michael B. Whipple, said Brown later retired.

Brown remains free on $3,000 bail, and Justice Michaela Murphy agreed to modify bail conditions to allow him contact with relatives under age 16 if their custodial parents are present. Otherwise, Brown is banned from contact with children under age 16 except for incidental contact.

School officials originally called Maine State Police to report finding photographs of children on a classroom computer. The photos appeared to be of girls on the playground, police said.

Later, Brown led officers to a wooded site near his home where they found two school laptops hidden in waterproof bags. Police said those laptops had nude photos of children in sexually explicit positions.

Maine State Police Sgt. Glenn Lang, an investigator, said earlier that Brown admitted taking the pictures and morphing the heads of children onto other pictures of other bodies.

Investigators also said it did not appear as if any of the children from the middle school were in the nude photographs.

At today’s hearing, attorneys discussed a theft charge pending against Brown which involves the laptops.

Brown has been summoned on that charge, and Whipple said he anticipated that charge might be presented to a grand jury in December. Brown had reported that one of his two school-issued laptops was stolen from his house. The school department gave him a replacement.