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Ex-state Sen. Mike Folmer pleads guilty to child porn

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Former state Sen. Mike Folmer leaves the Lebanon County Courthouse on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. Folmer pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. Sentencing has been set for late May. (Dan Gleiter/The Patriot-News via AP)

Former state Sen. Mike Folmer, who previously represented parts of York County, has pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography, according to the state Attorney General's Office.

Folmer, 64, of Lebanon, appeared Thursday morning in Lebanon County Court, where he entered guilty pleas to three second-degree felony counts of possessing child pornography and to the felony of using an electronic device to commit the crime, according to court records.

It was a negotiated plea agreement, court records state.

Folmer, a Republican, has not yet been sentenced and must undergo a state sexual-offender evaluation, records state. Such evaluations determine whether sex offenders should be deemed sexually violent predators, a designation that requires extra reporting requirements.

Sentencing has been set for May 26, according to court records.

State sentencing guidelines call for Folmer to serve a minimum prison sentence of one or two years in prison, according to his defense attorney, Brian Perry. The maximum punishment could be 10 years, Perry noted, but for someone without a criminal record, that's unlikely.

Folmer's plea agreement calls for the sentences of each of his four offenses to be run concurrently, but it will be up to the sentencing judge to determine appropriate sentences, according to Perry.

"We are obviously hoping for a mitigated-range sentence," he said, in light of the fact that Folmer immediately accepted responsibility, immediately enrolled in treatment and counseling and has no prior record.

"He's doing as well as possible, and his family has really rallied behind him to get him through this tough time," Perry told The York Dispatch.

Personal issues: Folmer told investigators last fall "that he had been dealing with some personal problems/issues and that he had received child pornography through his Tumblr blog," court records state.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a news release that no one is above the law.

Folmer was charged in September after authorities received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children that social-blogging site Tumblr found a user had uploaded an image of child pornography using their application, according to Shapiro.

The Office of Attorney General's Child Predator Section, Lebanon City Police and members of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security executed a search warrant at Folmer's home and found images of child pornography on the defendant’s phone.

The images "depicted indecent contact with a minor," court documents state.

Folmer was a sitting four-term state senator when he was arrested. He subsequently resigned.

State prosecutor Christopher Jones said in the hearing that Folmer possessed three images of nude children that depicted indecent contact, according to The Associated Press.

Confronted in courthouse: As Folmer and supporters walked down a hallway to leave the courthouse after the hearing, he was confronted by a woman who said she was a victim of childhood sexual abuse.

Christi Daubert told Folmer that he deserved whatever punishment he would get.

She said she had spoken with Folmer before he was charged as part of a push by victim advocates to lift time limits in state law for victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue perpetrators and institutions that covered it up.

Daubert, 56, who lives near Folmer, said she had had several conversations with Folmer, and that he had assured her that the law would change, but he did not follow up on promises to set up a meeting on the subject.

"I felt violated all over again," Daubert said afterward. "It's very upsetting to me that I was baring my soul to someone who commits the same violations against children."

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD. The Associated Press contributed to this report.