An art teacher at Portland High School has been arrested on suspicion that he viewed child pornography on his home computer.
Gerald White, 44, of Freeport, was arrested Wednesday morning at the school and taken to the Cumberland County Jail, according to Maine State Police. He was released on $500 bail Wednesday afternoon, according to jail officials.
White has been charged with possessing sexually explicit material of someone under the age of 12, a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Portland’s interim school superintendent, Jeanne Crocker, said the district only learned of White’s arrest Wednesday morning when he was taken into custody. He was put on administrative leave immediately, “pending further developments.”
Crocker read from a prepared statement outside her office on Cumberland Avenue but did not take questions.
“The Portland Public Schools had no information about this investigation or charge before state police arrived at the school this morning to speak to the teacher,” the statement read. “We are not aware of any allegations or evidence that the teacher engaged in any such activities in school or was using school computers or networks.
“We are communicating with staff and parents of Portland High School to inform them of what we know and we will continue to communicate with parents to alleviate any concerns. We will provide ongoing support to staff, students and families as needed through the process to ensure that all of our students feel and are safe at school.
“We, of course, will cooperate fully with the authorities, and we are always mindful of putting the best interests of our students first.”
White was hired in December 2010 as an education technician and became an art teacher prior to the 2013 school year.
Acting on a tip, police investigated White and seized his home computer. An initial examination “showed dozens of images of child porn,” said a statement from state police spokesman Steve McCausland, but he said police don’t believe any of the images found on White’s computer are victims from Maine.
McCausland said he couldn’t provide any information about where the tip came from but said the Computer Crimes Unit bases a large number of its investigations on tips.
White was an adviser to the school’s outing club as recently as last year and is a registered Maine Guide.