HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Four-term Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced.
Folmer was charged Tuesday evening after agents with the attorney general’s child predator unit and the Department of Homeland Security served a search warrant at his Lebanon home earlier in the day.
The search was preceded by a six-month investigation that began March 4, when the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip from the microblogging and social networking website Tumblr.
Tumblr reported at least one image containing suspected child pornography was uploaded on Dec. 28, 2017, by a user with the screen name hoser44. Tumblr additionally provided investigators with the user’s email and internet protocol addresses, which eventually were linked to Folmer, according to the criminal complaint.
The image, according to the complaint, depicts “a very young female child” engaged in a sexual act.
Folmer was contacted at his Lebanon office at the time of the search and agreed to return home and turn over his phone. He was advised of his Miranda Rights and stated he was willing to speak to the agents without the presence of an attorney.
During an interview, he admitted that the Tumblr account associated with the tip was his. He told investigators that he “had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog,” the complaint states.
Two images of apparent child pornography were found during a computer forensics search of the phone. “The two images discovered depicted indecent contact with a minor,” the complaint states.
Folmer is charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility.
The 63-year-old Republican represents the 48th senatorial district which includes Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties. He was elected to the state Senate in 2006, in the wake of a public backlash over the legislative pay raise of 2005.
Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati said Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman issued a statement, saying they were shocked to learn of the allegations and would “fully cooperate with law enforcement regarding this deeply disturbing matter.”
“Given the severity of these charges, Senator Folmer is immediately being removed as chair of the Senate State Government Committee. Further action in response to these charges will be taken by Senate leadership in the coming days,” the statement concluded.
Gov. Tom Wolf said Folmer should immediately resign.
“We elect leaders to serve as a voice for those who do not have the ability to advocate for their own needs, demanding that they will protect our children, families, and communities. The charges against Senator Folmer are disgusting and beyond comprehension, and show he has taken advantage of the trust and privilege afforded by the people of Pennsylvania,” Wolf said in a statement Wednesday morning.
Shapiro said Folmer was “entrusted to honor and represent his community” in the state Capitol.
“No one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold,” he said in a statement. “I will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable.”