A Bucksport man who is a former elementary school teacher in Belfast pleaded guilty March 1 in federal court to possessing child pornography, Acting U.S. Attorney Donald E. Clark announced.

According to court records, William Meier, 56, possessed electronic devices containing child exploitation material. The electronics, including a cell phone and a computer and associated drives, were seized from his home June 13, 2020. Some of the material Meier possessed on those devices depicted children under the age of 12.

According to the announcement, Meier faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. He will be sentenced after completion of a presentence investigation report by the U.S. Probation Office.

Homeland Security Investigations, the Bucksport Police Department and the Maine State Police Computer Crimes Unit investigated this case.

As previously reported, state and local police began an investigation early last June that resulted in Meier's arrest Aug. 7, 2020. Bucksport Deputy Police Chief David Winchester said at the time that officers executed a search warrant at Meier's residence in June and collected electronic devices that were reviewed by Maine Computer Crimes in Vassalboro.

Meier was employed by Regional School Unit 71 for over 11 years, according to his LinkedIn profile, initially as a substitute teacher, and, most recently as third grade teacher at Capt. Albert Stevens School in Belfast. He stated on LinkedIn that he was employed by the RSU from September 2008 to November 2019.

Meier listed his most recent employment as residential counselor at Penobscot County Job Corps from November 2019 to the present.

In a conversation with The Republican Journal Aug. 19, RSU 71 Superintendent Mary Alice McLean said Meier started working as a third grade teacher at Capt. Albert Stevens School in 2016 and was in his third probationary year when he resigned in 2019.

“We never had any complaints from students or teachers,” McLean said. “He was actually quite popular.”

A fellow substitute teacher in the district remembered Meier also working in RSU 71 as a sub prior to 2016.

The case against Meier was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice.

Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, visit justice.gov/psc.

Reporting by Jennifer Osborn of The Ellsworth American and Fran Gonzalez of The Republican Journal in August 2020 is included in this story.