BY PAUL LEIGHTON
---- — BEVERLY — The Beverly Cove Improvement Association has suspended its president in the wake of last week’s child pornography charges against him.
The neighborhood group announced yesterday that Christopher Shimkin’s membership has been suspended until the case is decided. Ethan Johnson, a member of the group’s board of directors, has taken over as acting president.
Shimkin pleaded not guilty last week to charges of possessing and disseminating child pornography. Police said he sent child pornography last month to what turned out to be an undercover law enforcement officer.
Shimkin, 47, of 6 Seward Ave., was released on $100,000 bail. He was ordered not to use a computer, to have no unsupervised visits with children, to turn in all passports and to stay away from the Cove Community Center.
On Wednesday, Johnson sent a letter on behalf of the Beverly Cove Community Center board of directors to the group’s members and others. The letter said that the board has suspended Shimkin’s membership and asked Johnson to take over as acting president.
“The board and I want to reinforce that the organization we have all relied upon to bring our community together for over 90 years will continue its long tradition of connecting neighbors in a safe environment that deepens the spirit of the Cove neighborhood we all love,” Johnson wrote.
In an interview, Johnson said neighbors have been “taken aback” by the charges against Shimkin.
“It just was not something they saw or expected,” Johnson said. “I think it’s going to take a little time for this initial shock to wear off. But for the most part, they’re banding together like you would want a community center to do.”
The Beverly Cove Improvement Association was founded in 1921. It is headquartered at the Cove Community Center on East Corning Street in the Cove neighborhood near Lynch Park.
The neighborhood group runs a variety of events and programs for its members and rents out the building to members and nonmembers.
Shimkin is due back in court on Feb. 26 for a pretrial hearing.
Staff writer Paul Leighton can be reached at 978-338-2675 or email@example.com.