PLAINVILLE - A Plainville man who volunteered at a childrenâ€™s museum in Bristol has pleaded not guilty to a possession of child pornography charge.
Michael Gorske, 33, of 92 W. Main St., appeared Thursday in New Britain Superior Court, where he pleaded not guilty to one count of first-degree possession of child pornography -- a felony -- according to online court records.
He is free on $75,000 bond and is due back in court for a pretrial hearing on Jan. 5, court records indicated.
According to the arrest warrant, police first began investigating Gorske in December after Yahoo discovered an email account - which police later found belonged to the Plainville resident - had shared 11 images of â€śchild eroticaâ€ť - which investigators defined as images of naked children who were not engaging in sexual activity or portrayed in a sexually explicit manner.
Police acquired a search warrant for Gorskeâ€™s apartment on Jan. 8 and searched the unit the next day. Multiple computers and other electronics were seized. Police said they found a total of 302 images of suspected child pornography on the devices, according to the warrant.
Gorske told police he used the dark web to initially search for â€śnude naturist imagesâ€ť - which police said appeared to be similar to the child erotica images that he shared - before seeking images and videos of child pornography, the warrant said.
He also told police he attended college to study early childhood education and volunteered at the Imagine Nation Museum in Bristol, the warrant said. During his interview, police wrote in the warrant, Gorske repeatedly said â€śI love kidsâ€ť and told investigators he was â€śnot a pedophile.â€ť
Michael Suchopar, president and CEO of the Bristol Boys and Girls Club, told The Bristol Press in July that Gorske approached the childrenâ€™s museum â€“ which is a division of the club - sometime in 2018 through an agency so he could learn skills involved in working with children. He noted that all employees and volunteers undergo a background check, which came back clean for Gorske.
Suchopar further said that Gorske did not work in the preschool program at the museum. He volunteered once or twice a week for three hours at a time with children who visited the museum.
Children who visit the museum must be accompanied by a parent or guardian at all times, Suchopar said. He added that Gorske, in addition to having the childrenâ€™s parent or guardian present, was supervised by a museum employee and someone at the agency he was affiliated with - who also underwent a background check.
Suchopar, who said Gorske was at no time alone with children while volunteering at the museum, also noted that he was no longer allowed to volunteer once museum officials became aware of the accusations in early 2020.
Justin Muszynski can be reached at 860-973-1809 or firstname.lastname@example.org.