The Slatest

Pennsylvania State Senator Arrested for Child Pornography

Photo illustration side by side of the Pennsylvania State Capitol Building and a portrait of Pennsylvania State Senator Mike Folmer.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Pennsylvania Senate Republican Caucus and REUTERS/Daniel Shanke.

A Pennsylvania state senator who once opposed legislation meant to help victims of child sexual abuse sue institutions has been arrested and charged with possession of child pornography, prosecutors said Tuesday.

Republican state Sen. Mike Folmer admitted Tuesday night to receiving the child pornography, blaming “some personal problems/issues,” authorities said, and resigned from office on Wednesday.

According to court records, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a report in February that a Tumblr user had downloaded one or more child pornography images in late 2017. After an investigation, law enforcement searched Folmer’s house on Tuesday and found three child pornography images on the lawmaker’s phone. Investigators said at least one of the images showed a “very young” girl performing a sex act on an adult man, according to the Patriot-News.

As a legislator, the 63-year-old Folmer has represented his district for 12 years and was beginning his fourth term. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Folmer is one of the state’s most conservative legislators, and he led the successful effort to legalize medical marijuana in the state. According to NBC Philadelphia, Folmer also opposed legislation targeting the Catholic Church that would have allowed victims of decades-old abuse to sue institutions that may have covered up that abuse.

Folmer was charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility. The most severe charge of possession of child pornography—a second-degree felony—carries up to 10 years in prison. If he pleads or is found guilty, Folmer will have to register as a sex offender. According to the Inquirer, Folmer remains free on $25,000 bail.