AG Josh Shapiro brings child porn charges against state Sen. Mike Folmer

State Sen. Mike Folmer

Update: Folmer resigned Wednesday. Read more. 

State Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, was charged with possession of child pornography after law enforcement agents found images depicting “indecent contact with a minor” on his cell phone, Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday night.

Folmer was arraigned in Lebanon County district court on Tuesday and posted $25,000 bail through a bondsman the same day, according to court dockets.

A preliminary hearing before Magisterial District Judge Thomas M. Capello is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 26 at 8:30 a.m.

The charges come after law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, executed a search warrant at Folmer’s Lebanon residence on Tuesday, Shapiro’s office said in a statement released shorty after 9 p.m.

The officers were investigating a complaint the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received from the blogging platform Tumblr, which reported in February that a user had uploaded at least one image of “suspected child pornography” to its website in December 2017.

Folmer was interviewed by representatives of Homeland Security and the Attorney General’s office, according to a criminal complaint; he waived his right to have an attorney present.

“[Gordon Goodrow of the Attorney General’s office] advised Michael Folmer about the nature of the investigation,” the criminal complaint reads. “During the interview, Michael Folmer admitted the Tumblr account associated with the CyberTip was indeed his … Michael Folmer stated that he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog.”

Law enforcement officials then uncovered two images depicting “indecent contact with a minor” on the defendant’s phone, the complaint states.

Folmer was charged Tuesday evening with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility, Shapiro said.

“This defendant serves as a state senator and was entrusted to honor and represent his community in the Pennsylvania Capitol,” Shapiro said in the statement. “I will continue to say it — no one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold. I will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable.”

Attempts to reach Folmer Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

In a statement, Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, and Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, said they “are shocked to learn tonight of the allegations made against Senator Folmer.”

“We will fully cooperate with law enforcement regarding this deeply disturbing matter,” the statement continues. “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.”

Gov. Tom Wolf in a statement called on Folmer to “immediately resign.”

“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.

Wolf’s fellow Democrats Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, of Allegheny County, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman also called on Folmer to step down. Republican Sens. Tom Killion, of Delaware County, and John DiSanto, of Dauphin County, joined in calling for Folmer’s resignation.

Speaking after a Capitol news conference Wednesday, state House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, said he was “aghast” by the allegations against Folmer. Turzai also said Folmer should resign.

When contacted by phone, Rep. Russ Diamond, a fellow Lebanon County Republican, said he was “absolutely dumbfounded” by Tuesday’s news.

Another Lebanon County Republican, Rep. Frank Ryan, said he was “shocked” and saddened by the news. Asked if Folmer should resign, Ryan said that was a discussion left to Folmer and Corman. But he believed that discussion would result in Folmer’s resignation.

Staff reporter Stephen Caruso and Editor John L. Micek contributed reporting. 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here