The arrest by Maine State Police of a magazine publisher and former Auburn city councilor on charges of possession of child pornography has put the future of a nationally recognized film festival in doubt and raised questions about the future of a local magazine that he published.

Joshua Shea, 38, was arrested Thursday morning by members of the State Police Computer Crimes Unit at his home at 30 Paul St. in Auburn.

Shea served one term on the Auburn City Council but was also active in local communities, founded the Lewiston Auburn Magazine in 2010 and established the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival in 2011.

“We are hopeful, but we are not sure if the festival will happen,” said Mike Miclon, a Buckfield-based movie director whose 2-hour film, “Richard3,” is scheduled to premiere on April 4. The show is already sold out, and Miclon is listed on the festival website as its host. “This news came as quite a shock to everyone.”

Steve McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, said that detectives, acting on a tip, seized Shea’s home computer and found “hundreds of images of child pornography” during an initial inspection. He was charged with a single count of possessing sexually explicit materials of someone under the age of 12.

Shea was taken to Androscoggin County Jail and released on $500 bail. He was forbidden to have contact with children under the age of 18. His initial court date is set for May 1.

Shea lives at home with his wife and two children, McCausland said.

A call placed to Shea’s listed home telephone number activated a recording that said his telephone was out of service. Shea did not return phone calls left at his place of business or respond to an e-mail sent to his work address.

“If I knew I would tell you,” said Jim O’Rourke, an account executive with Lewiston Auburn Magazine, when asked how Shea’s arrest may affect the magazine’s future. “We haven’t heard from him (Thursday). We’re all kind of in shock.”

Attempts to reach the magazine’s general manager were unsuccessful.

Chip Morrison, president of the Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce, knew Shea well. In 2012, he nominated Shea to receive MaineToday Media’s Forty under 40 award, a recognition given to 40 people under the age of 40 who were making a difference in their community.

The Androscoggin County Chamber of Commerce applauded Shea for creating “a spectacular, full color magazine, which highlights the dramatic transformation of the Lewiston/Auburn area.”

The nomination said the Lewiston Auburn Film Festival grew from a one-day event to a three-day event in its second year.

But Morrison said Shea’s arrest has put the festival on shaky ground. It is scheduled to be held April 3-6 at venues throughout the two cities.

Morrison said Miclon’s film will likely be held, but he was less certain about the rest of the events since Shea was in charge of booking venues and scheduling films. Shea serves as the festival’s director.

Two partners who helped Shea organize the festival withdrew last fall, Miclon said. He did not know why the two women parted ways with Shea.

“It’s too soon to say, but we don’t have that much time to pull something together,” Morrison said.

Morrison said he has spoken with a group of people, who have offered to volunteer their time to make sure the festival goes on as planned.

“The problem is (Shea) is the central character, though not all the parts are dependent on him,” Morrison said.

Morrison said the festival attracts film makers and film enthusiasts from all over the country and the world. Those visitors pump thousands of dollars into the local economy.

“It’s a big deal in Lewiston and Auburn, not a little deal,” he said.

The festival features a selection of international documentary, short and feature length films.

In 2011, Shea was the top vote getter in Auburn’s City Council election with 2,237 votes, even though he was new to politics. He did not seek a second term in 2013.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

[email protected]