Pennsylvania state senator charged with possession of child pornography

Justin Udo
September 17, 2019 - 9:58 pm
State Sen. Mike Folmer

Ty Lohr/York Daily Record

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UPDATED: Sept. 18, 8 a.m.

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A Pennsylvania state senator is facing child pornography charges following an investigation into his online activity. 

Pennsylvania state Sen. Michael Folmer is charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the investigation began as a result of a CyberTip by social media site Tumblr. In February, Tumblr sent a complaint to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that a user had uploaded at least one image that contained suspected child pornography in December 2017, according to court papers provided by the attorney general's office.

Investigators then traced the Tumblr account to Folmer's email address and home address, they said.

Investigators allegedly found two images of child pornography on Folmer's cellphone when they executed a search warrant at his house in Lebanon County, about 70 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

"Michael Folmer stated that he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog,'' an agent of the attorney general's office wrote in the court papers.

"I will continue to say it — no one is above the law, no matter what position of power they hold,'' Shapiro said. "I will continue to work to protect children and hold those who abuse them accountable.''

Gov. Tom Wolf called on the senator to resign Wednesday morning.

The 63-year-old Republican, of the state's 48th District, was elected to a fourth term in November. He's been in office since 2007, representing Lebanon County and parts of Dauphin and York counties. 

Long considered one of the chamber's most conservative members, Folmer was crucial in swinging Republican votes behind a bill to legalize medical marijuana in 2016. He routinely pulls a miniature copy of the U.S. Constitution from his breast pocket when speaking publicly to emphasize a point.

On one recent hot-button issue, Folmer had opposed legislation to lift legal barriers that block long-ago victims of child sexual abuse from suing institutions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, that may have covered up the crimes.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman said given the severity of the charges, Folmer has been immediately removed as chair of the Senate State Government Committee, where he has spent considerable time recently working on election reform bills. 

Republican Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati added he is shocked to learn of the allegations against Folmer. Further action will be taken in the coming days, they both said.

Folmer was arrested on $25,000 bail, but it was not immediately clear if Folmer had posted it.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.