Eliot Cutler listens to his lawyer speak during a plea change hearing in Hancock County Court in Ellsworth on April 4. Cutler agreed to serve nine months in prison for possessing child pornography. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Former Maine gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler has been released from jail after serving about three-fourths of his nine-month sentence for possessing child pornography.

Cutler, 77, was released Thursday morning after about seven months behind bars, said Hancock County Jail Administrator Timothy Richardson.

Richardson said Cutler was released early for good behavior. He was booked at the jail on June 1.

Cutler will now serve six years of probation, according to a plea agreement he reached with the district attorney for Hancock County in May. If he violates the conditions of his release, he will have to serve the rest of his four-year sentence in state prison.

Per the plea agreement, his online activity will be monitored and he could be randomly searched at any time. If at any point Cutler is caught viewing or downloading sexually explicit images of children, he risks additional prison time.

He also will have to register as a sex offender for life and has agreed to pay $5,000 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which prompted the investigation that led to his charges. Cutler did not appear in the online registry as of Thursday afternoon.


Cutler and his defense attorney did not respond to messages Thursday afternoon asking about Cutler’s time in jail and his expectations for probation.

District Attorney Robert Granger did not respond to an email Thursday asking about Cutler’s early release and probation.

Cutler was arrested at his home in Brooklin in March 2022 after investigators found thousands of child pornography images on his computers. Between 2014 and 2021, prosecutors say, Cutler downloaded more than 80,000 images of children younger than 12 engaged in often violent and unusual sexual acts, according to the agreement.

Amen Farm, Eliot Cutler’s home in Brooklin, photographed on August 2, 2022. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Cutler’s attorney, Walt McKee, said in May that the state’s count was 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, which were only included in batches Cutler would download en masse.

The images police found were violent, exploitative and had long-lasting impacts to their young subjects, Granger said in May.

“These children grow up not knowing where these videos are, who has them, and they continue to be exploited in the future,” Granger said.


The politician spent most of the year after he was arrested at home on $50,000 bail. He was still allowed internet access, with some supervision. He was not required to appear in person for most of his court events before his May 2023 sentencing.

When he pleaded guilty to the possession charges in May, Cutler apologized and vowed he would never re-offend.

“I will never, ever relapse and engage again in the behavior that brought me here today,” Cutler said at the time. “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.”

For decades, Cutler was respected and admired as one of Maine’s brightest attorneys and wealthiest philanthropists. An Ivy League graduate who worked on Capitol Hill and in the White House, Cutler had a hand in major national policy shifts on energy and natural resources in the 1970s. He co-founded a successful environmental law firm in Washington, D.C., and later returned to Maine, where he unsuccessfully ran for governor as an independent in 2010 and 2014.

His arrest shocked many who had followed his career paths in law and politics. When he was arrested, some speculated about whether he risked being charged in federal court, where prosecution can be harsher.

Granger said in May his office decided to keep the charges against Cutler in state court because they had no evidence he manufactured or disseminated the materials.

Prosecutors said they reached a plea agreement because there was concern that if Cutler didn’t plead, a statewide court backlog would’ve made it harder to bring him to trial, and at nearly 77 years old, he might never have been held accountable.

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