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Surry
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, October 6, 2011 and The Weekly Packet, October 6, 2011
CSD employee arrested on possession of child pornography charges

Deer Isle-Stonington CSD Archive
Click here to see the full Deer Isle-Stonington CSD Archive.

by Jessica Brophy

An employee of the Deer Isle-Stonington school system was arrested on charges of possession of child pornography, according to a Department of Public Safety press release.

Joseph Audette, 30, was arrested at his Surry home on Monday, October 3. He administered the school system’s computer network.

As of press time Wednesday, October 5, neither the state police nor the school system believed any local children were involved in the case.

Sergeant Glenn Lang, who supervises the computer crimes unit for the state, said the unit moved quickly to arrest Audette once it became known he was a school employee.

“The case began about a month ago when Computer Crime Unit members were researching suspects in Maine that had been observed sharing child pornography on the Internet. A screen name reappeared at a number of sites that typically host child pornography,” Lang said in the state police press release. “We requested a subpoena for the Internet protocol address associated with the screen name. Monday we received a response identifying Audette’s account as being associated with that name.”

Forensic onsite review of Audette’s computers at home located child pornography and many of the children appear to be younger than 12, according to the press release.

As of press time, no contact information could be found for Audette to reach him for comment, and officials at Hancock County Superior Court could not yet provide the name of any lawyer who might speak for him.

Audette is out on bail with the restriction that he have no contact with children under 18 and no use of the Internet.

Mike McFadden, a special agent for the computer crimes unit, said it’s necessary to be somewhat vague about the processes used to gather information of the sort involved in this arrest.

“There are way too many more bad guys out there and we don’t want to educate them on what we do,” McFadden said in a telephone interview.

When asked if Audette’s employment in a school system hastened his arrest, McFadden said there are “several requisites” to an arrest and that Audette’s job was not the “only reason” police moved quickly.

Audette resigned from his position at the Deer Isle-Stonington schools on Tuesday, October 4, according to Union 76 Superintendent Bob Webster.

On Tuesday morning, state police forensic investigators examined the equipment Audette used at the Deer Isle-Stonington high school and elementary schools, Webster told Penobscot Bay Press. No further information was available by press time.

Audette’s job did not put him in direct contact with children, Webster said. His primary responsibility was to “Develop, maintain and enhance the technology systems in the schools,” according to his job description.

Audette did work closely with one high school senior last year, but did not have an instructional role in the schools. His office at the elementary school was part of the computer lab, which had large glass windows as two of its walls.

In a press release, Webster called Audette’s employment “a serious embarrassment for the school district.” Audette did pass the fingerprint and background checks when he was hired about a year ago, Webster said.

“I don’t know that anything has come up that we would have been able to predict this,” Webster said.

Webster said additional training would be developed for students and staff on appropriate, safe and responsible use of technology.

Audette is a member of the 20th Maine Company B, a Civil War reenactment troop. In August, Audette took part in a Civil War encampment in Deer Isle.