Former Day Care Director Indicted on Child Pornography Charges

Friday, December 05, 2014
North Haverhill — The former director of the Children’s Center of the Upper Valley has been indicted on four felony counts of possessing child pornography.

Michael Whelton, 53, of Enfield, allegedly stored four images on his work-issued laptop that depicted children engaging in sexually explicit acts, according to the indictment paperwork handed up late last month by the Grafton County grand jury.

Whelton, who pleaded not guilty to a felony count of attempted theft from the day care on Nov. 10, will be arraigned on the pornography charges on Monday at 10 a.m. in Grafton Superior Court in North Haverhill. He is currently being held at the Grafton County Jail on $50,000 bail, a jail official said Thursday.

An indictment is not a finding of guilt, but rather a finding by a grand jury that there is sufficient evidence for a prosecutor to proceed with a criminal case.

Whelton had been employed by the center for two years before he was terminated on July 28. His dismissal stemmed from coworkers’ allegations that he was embezzling money from the center.

Following his termination, Whelton was asked to return all property belonging to the center, including his work-issued laptop computer.

The president of the center’s board of directors later reported that she had come across “suspicious websites” on the computer, which was subsequently turned over to police.

A search of the computer in August revealed “numerous images of child pornography,” according to court documents.

During a September interview with police, Whelton said that the illicit images found on the laptop had been sent to him through an online messenger account and that he had then shared them with others.

After the interview, Lebanon police issued an arrest warrant for Whelton and he was taken into custody the next day. Parents with children attending the day care center were told they have little reason to fear their children were victimized.

The court will hold a dispositional conference on Whelton’s attempted theft charge on Dec. 15.

An October indictment handed up by the Grafton County grand jury alleges Whelton deposited nearly $4,000 in center funds into his personal bank account 10 days before he was terminated from his job there.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com .