Eliot Cutler waits to enter his plea change in Hancock County Court in Ellsworth on May 4. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Eliot Cutler, a former gubernatorial candidate who pleaded guilty to possessing sexually explicit images of children, was booked into the Hancock County Jail Thursday.

Cutler, 76, will serve nine months before he is expected to be released on a six-year probation. If he’s caught possessing or accessing sexually explicit images of minors, or violating the conditions of his release, Cutler could return to prison for a full four-year sentence.

Eliot Cutler, 76, was booked into the Hancock County Jail Thursday, June 1. Courtesy Hancock County Jail

The former politician and attorney was convicted and sentenced May 4 on four felony-level counts of possessing sexually explicit materials of children under 12 years old. In addition to jail time, the court also ordered Cutler to register as a sex offender for life and to pay $5,000 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which prompted the investigation that led to his charges.

Jail officials said Wednesday that they would decide on any necessary precautions for Cutler’s sentence after he was booked, but they would not release more information about Cutler’s situation, even after booking, without his authorization.

“The booking process will identify any possible concerns,” Hancock County Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson wrote in an email. “Every individual entering The Hancock County Jail must complete the booking process. The completion of the process will provide the information needed for us to make the final decision on classification and housing assignments.”

Cutler was arrested at his home in Brooklin on March 25, 2022, after investigators found thousands of child pornography images on his computers. Between 2014 and 2021, prosecutors say Cutler had downloaded more than 80,000 images of children younger than 12 engaged in often violent sexual acts, per a random sampling of 142,000 files.


The four charges issued against Cutler were based on an initial analysis by Maine’s computer crime lab. Hancock County District Attorney Robert Granger, who took over the case after he was elected last fall, said that upon further investigation Cutler’s trove was much larger and more egregious. Prosecutors could’ve charged him per downloaded file, of which there were thousands.

Granger said at the sentencing that the state decided to keep the charges against Cutler in state court, and not federal court where the stakes would’ve been higher, because they had no evidence he manufactured or disseminated the materials.

Granger declined Tuesday to comment on Cutler’s upcoming sentence.

Cutler’s attorney, Walt McKee, said in court that his client accepts responsibility for having a significant number of illegal images and videos. But McKee said the state’s count is higher than what Cutler actually had because prosecutors considered single videos as hundreds of images. McKee said Cutler didn’t view the most violent images prosecutors found, and that these were only included in batches Cutler would download en masse.

“I will never, ever relapse and engage again in the behavior that brought me here today,” Cutler said as he apologized to the court in May. “This crime is not all of who I am, or all of who I am and will be. I will devote the rest of my years to making amends as best I can, to seeking redemption and to earning, again, the trust of my family, friends and community.”

Cutler was born in Bangor and returned to Maine after a long career in Washington, D.C., much of which he spent working for a prominent law firm he helped establish. He ran for governor twice as an independent, using his personal wealth to bankroll both campaigns. He lost by less than 2 percentage points to Republican Paul LePage in a multi-candidate race in 2010 and lost again by a larger margin in 2014.

Years earlier, Cutler served as an aide to the late Democratic Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine, and later as a top adviser on environmental and energy issues to former President Jimmy Carter.

McKee declined to comment on Cutler’s thoughts about the upcoming sentence.

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