State senator arrested on child pornography charges

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A Pennsylvania state senator was arrested on charges of child pornography Tuesday night, authorities said.

Sen. Michael Folmer, 63, was charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography, and criminal use of a communication facility after child pornography images were found on his phone, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced Tuesday.

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On Wednesday, Gov. Tom Wolf called on Folmer, a Republican representing Lebanon County, to 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,” Wolf said in a statement. “The charges against Senator Folmer are disgusting and beyond comprehension. … He should immediately resign.”

A criminal complaint said that the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received a tip in February from the social media site Tumblr that a user had downloaded at least one image containing child pornography in late 2017.

Pennsylvania state Sen. Mike Folmer, R-Lebanon, speaks at a Capitol news conference in Harrisburg, Pa.Marc Levy / AP file

An investigation began in March and eventually led to the home of Folmer.

The state attorney general’s child predator section, Lebanon city police, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security executed a search warrant at the lawmaker’s home and for his cellphone on Tuesday and found child pornography images on the phone.

Folmer admitted to investigators that he had used his Tumblr blog to receive child pornography, according to the criminal complaint. He said that “he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues.”

A spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office said Folmer’s bail has been set at $25,000. It is unclear if he has posted it.

The senator was elected to a fourth term in November. He was instrumental in swinging conservative votes behind a bill to legalize medical marijuana in 2016, according to a profile on his website.

He opposed legislation that would have lifted legal barriers for victims of long-ago child sexual abuse from suing institutions, according to NBC Philadelphia.

Folmer is married and has two adult children and seven grandchildren, his online profile says. Neither Folmer nor his office responded to requests for comment.