An arrest affidavit for Suffield Public Schools employee Gardner A. Whitney Jr. graphically outlines allegations that he collected more than 100 pornographic images of children over an unknown period of time.
Whitney, 61, a “specialized teacher” in the Suffield school system, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to four counts of possession of child pornography, three counts of posing a child in the nude, three counts of secretly recording a nude person and a single count of indecent assault and battery, according to the court documents filed in Westfield District Court in Whitney's hometown of Westfield, MA. He is being held in lieu of $25,000 cash bond.
In the arrest warrant application, the Westfield detective investigating the case wrote, "I am requesting the issuance of an arrest warrant because I believe that there is an imminent threat of abuse to other children, as he is employed full time as a specialized teacher at the Suffield Middle School and has access to many children. He is also involved with the Shriners."
A release from the Melha Shriners Friday afternoon referred to Whitney as a "former Melha Shriner Potentate."
Suffield Superintendent of Schools Karen Baldwin sent a letter to parents and guardians Friday. She did not refer to Whitney by name or specify where he worked, instead referring to the arrest of "a non-certified employee of the Suffield Public Schools."
The investigation into Whitney's behavior began Jan. 2, when the Westfield detective applied for a search warrant for Whitney's laptop, storage devices, flash drives and compact discs, the affidavit said.
While reviewing the materials, a Massachusetts state trooper discovered a folder identified as "Private" that contained about 10 images of child pornography, the affidavit said. A video file in the folder shows a man identified in the affidavit as Whitney pleasuring himself and inappropriately touching what appears to be an underage female.
In a folder labeled "11A", about 25 images of girls ranging from ages 10 to 16 years old posing in various stages of undress were found. Some of the girls in those images are tied, gagged or bound, the affidavit said.
Another folder, titled "otherr (sic)”, contained about 30 images of girls ranging in age from 14 to 16 years old, in various stages of undress, the affidavit said.
Among the images found on the laptop were more than 100 snapshot image files of a naked juvenile female changing, with her breasts and buttocks exposed.
"It appears that the child is unaware that she was being secretly recorded," the affidavit states.
About 100 images of females between 10 to 14 years old posing in various stages of undress were also found on the laptop, the affidavit said.