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Suffield Schools, Shriners Respond to Child Porn Arrest

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(Photo from The Melha News, Feb. 2011)

SUFFIELD, Conn. (WGGB) – School officials in Connecticut have launched an investigation after a Westfield man who tutored in the district was arrested on child porn charges.

61-year-old Gardner Whitney of Westfield was arrested Tuesday night by Westfield police at a home in Agawam. He’s facing several charges including possession of child pornography, indecent assault and battery, and photographing an unsuspecting nude person.

Whitney, who also is a member of the Melha Shriners, has been serving as tutor for the Suffield school district since 2009.

In a statement released Friday, Suffield School Superintendent Karen Baldwin said that she was told by Suffield Police on Wednesday that a “non-certified employee…was arrested on January 22, 2013 by Massachusetts State Police for possession of child pornography on equipment unrelated to the school.”

Baldwin adds that the district immediately began an investigation in cooperation with law enforcement. That investigation remains ongoing.

“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,” Baldwin adds in her statement.

Baldwin does want to let the community know that the well-being of the district’s students remains paramount. “Please be assured that, as always, the safety and welfare of all of our students is our first priority,” she says.

Friday, Al Zippin from the Melha Shriners also issued a statement regarding Whitney, who also served as their local leader – or Potentate – in recent years. “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,” he writes.

Zippin goes on to say that “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.

The organization “will take corrective action and all disciplinary measures” under their by-laws when there is any evidence of misconduct, Zippin adds.

Whitney pleaded not guilty in court the charges on Wednesday. He is due back in court in February.


  • robn

    Sick as_hol