Former Portland teacher arrested on child pornography charges

May 11—A former teacher and coach who worked in Portland, Westbrook and Lisbon schools was arrested and charged Monday with possessing and soliciting sexually exploitative images of children.

Travis McCutcheon, 53, was a teacher in the Breathe program at Portland's Lyman Moore Middle School from Nov. 22, 2021, until Feb. 2, 2023, a spokesperson for the school district confirmed Thursday. The Breathe program is dedicated to students with serious behavioral and emotional needs.

His last day coincided with a police search of his home that morning, according to court records. The spokesperson said the reasons for McCutcheon's departure were confidential and declined to comment further on his charges. He also was an ed tech at Lyseth Elementary School for a year beginning in October 2018.

McCutcheon faces one count of advertising, promoting, presenting, distributing and soliciting an obscene visual depiction of minors, and one count of possessing child pornography. He faces up to 20 years in prison. He was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service, but it was unclear Thursday where he was being held.

McCutcheon's attorney, Thomas Hallett, did not respond to a voicemail and email Thursday seeking to discuss the allegations. McCutcheon is scheduled to appear before a U.S. District judge in Portland for a detention hearing Friday morning.

His arrest comes on the heels of charges against another Portland schools employee, Benjamin Conroy, who pleaded guilty last year to sexually abusing a 6-year-old student and recording it. Conroy is scheduled to be sentenced on Monday. McCutcheon is not accused of abusing any students.

McCutcheon was a sixth-grade teacher at Westbrook Middle School from 2002 to 2015 and a fifth and sixth grade teacher at Lisbon Community School until March 2018, according to records from the Lisbon district. He left his job in Lisbon for "medical issues," according to a resignation letter. He also was a track coach in Westbrook.

The Westbrook superintendent's office did not respond to a message Thursday asking to verify McCutcheon's employment.

Federal and state detectives began investigating McCutcheon late in 2022 after someone at Google flagged two video files in a Google Drive account that McCutcheon later admitted to using regularly, according to an affidavit by Special Agent David Fife from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The videos showed boys between 9 and 15 years old engaged in sexual conduct. McCutcheon denied ever seeing the videos or having searched for them after police showed him a still image from one of the clips.

Investigators executed a search warrant at McCutcheon's home in Portland on Feb. 2, speaking with him as he was heading to work and seizing several of his electronic devices, which showed he was using two email addresses, including the one linked to the two videos.

McCutcheon denied having ever viewed pornography of adults or children. He told police that he had deleted the email address linked to the Google Drive account in November or December 2022 because he received an email alert saying the account had been hacked.

The affidavit says police believe McCutcheon was referring to a notification from Google that they had found the exploitative videos and locked his account.

Investigators searched his email accounts two weeks later, according to the affidavit, and found the videos were still on one of McCutcheon's accounts and that he had used the two email addresses to solicit materials from at least 32 different email addresses between Nov. 24-29.

In one email with the subject line "Inquiry," the affidavit states that McCutcheon's sent an email asking, "Hi, Have you pics or vids for trade? Thanks, Travis."

Another email states "Hi! I am trying to start a collection. Have you any trades? Travis."

As these emails were being sent, the affidavit states that McCutcheon received an email notification from Bank of America to alert him to a credit card transaction made outside the United States. Police believe that was a charge from MEGA Cloud Storage, based in New Zealand.

The Google records also show McCutcheon searched for phrases associated with a sexual interest in young boys.

Fife said he reached out to some of the accounts it appeared McCutcheon was engaging with, using an undercover account "in an effort to verify the content they offered or exchanged." One response said they had "links with boys in various ages."