Suffield Middle School staffer facing child porn charges - CBS 5 - KPHO

Suffield Middle School staffer facing child porn charges

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Gardner Whitney Gardner Whitney
SUFFIELD, CT (WFSB) -

A 61-year-old staff member at Suffield Middle School is facing multiple child pornography charges.

Police said Gardner Whitney, who also is a former Melha Shriner Potentate in Springfield, MA, is accused of indecent assault, possession of child porn and secretly recording a nude person.

He was recently arrested by police in Springfield and they said there is more than one victim.

Suffield Superintendent Karen Baldwin released a statement on Friday and said that Whitney served as an academic support tutor since 2009. She said she got word of Gardner's arrest on Jan. 23, one day after he was placed into custody.

"In accordance with its standard procedures, the district immediately began to work collaboratively with the police to investigate this allegation," she said in the statement. "The district will review the police reports and any further proceedings in this action to determine what, if any, further action should be taken by the Suffield Public Schools. As this is an ongoing investigation at this point, it would not be appropriate to comment further. However, please be assured that, as always, the safety and welfare of all of our students is our first priority."

Baldwin said Whitney is not presently working at Suffield Public Schools and none of the charges are related to the school.

Al Zippin, a spokesman for Melha Shriners, released a statement on Friday afternoon weighing-in on the situation and said, "We are saddened and deeply disappointed by the allegations facing former Melha Shriner Potentate, Gardner Whitney. Our thoughts and prayers are with the alleged victims during this difficult time. We expect our members to be professional, moral and ethical in all of their interactions with children, colleagues and community members. We will not tolerate any conduct that is inappropriate and unbecoming of a Melha Shriner. We will take corrective action and all disciplinary measures under organization by-laws whenever there is evidence of any misconduct. We encourage members of the Melha Shriners and the community to support each other through this difficult time, and look to a more positive tomorrow."

On Friday afternoon, parents reacted to the arrest.

"It's so different from when I was growing up," said Justina Cashman, whose children had Whitney as a substitute. "Between Newtown and all this stuff, it's really overwhelming like you don't want to send your kids to school. But, you have to and I don't know what to say. I'm just mortified by it."

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