Portland teacher free on bail, placed on leave, after child porn arrest

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PORTLAND — A Portland High School teacher was released on bail after being arrested last week for allegedly possessing child pornography.

Gerald White, 44, was arrested Dec. 16 at the 284 Cumberland Ave. school, according to spokesman Steve McCausland of the Maine Department of Public Safety.

McCausland said Maine State Police seized White’s computer the day before at his home on Lower Flying Point Road in Freeport.

White was charged with with allegedly possessing sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 12 and was taken to the Cumberland County Jail. He was released on Dec. 16 after posting $500 bail.

McCausland said White is expected to make his first court appearance “some time in the early new year.”

Possession of child pornography is a Class C felony.

According to McCausland, dozens of images of child pornography were allegedly discovered on White’s computer. None of the children depicted are believed to be from Maine, he said.

McCausland on Dec. 17 also said there is no indication any students from the school were involved.

The Computer Crimes Unit began investigating White after receiving a tip, McCausland said, although he would not say where the tip originated. He said the reason White was arrested on Wednesday, even though his computer was seized on Tuesday, was because the unit needed time to examine its contents.

“There’s police information gathered that results in information that has our Computer Crimes Unit opening up an investigation,” McCausland said. “That’s what happened here.”

McCausland said they don’t know if White posed a risk to students at the school, but his case rose to the top since he “has immediate access to minors” as a teacher. 

“Some cases are expedited because of occupation,” he said. “This would have been one of them.”

White was placed on administrative leave by Portland Public Schools following his arrest. In prepared statement issued Dec. 16, interim Superintendent of Schools Jeanne Crocker said the School Department had no prior information about the investigation or charge before Maine State Police arrived at the school.

“We are not aware of any allegations or evidence that the teacher engaged in any such activity while in school or while using school computers or networks,” Crocker said.

The School Departmnet also sent a letter to parents of students at the school, reiterating there was no knowledge of any allegations or evidence that White engaged in any criminal activities in school or was using school computers or networks.

“We will fully support and cooperate with the investigation being conducted by Maine State Police,” the letter said. “We will provide ongoing support for our students, staff, and families as needed throughout the process to ensure that all of our students feel and are safe at school.”

White has worked at Portland High School since 2010, when he hired as an educational technician. He began teaching art in 2013.

State police initially reported White was arrested at his home, but later said he was arrested at the school.

Colin Ellis can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @colinoellis.

Gerald White

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Reporter covering the Portland Public School District as well as the town of Falmouth for The Forecaster. Can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or cellis@theforecaster.net.