Slade Sohmer, the now-former editor-in-chief of the left-leaning publication The Recount, was arrested on Friday on charges of possessing more than 1,300 images of child pornography including images of toddlers, according to court documents.
Sohmer was released on $100,000 bail on Monday, after being charged with two counts of possession and two counts dissemination of child pornography.
Berkshire Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey told TheWrap on Tuesday that Sohmer’s collection of images and videos, some involving children as young as 3 or 4 years old, was “one of the most egregious cases” she had ever seen.
In addition to the imagery, authorities obtained text chats, also allegedly from Sohmer, sharing how to kidnap and rape a child. Shelvey said the disturbing chats added “a level of extreme cruelty” to the case.
Sohmer, 44, was dismissed from his job as editor last month, around the time the Berkshire District Attorney began an investigation into allegations of child porn.
He faces between five to 10 years if convicted on the charges. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges. He is due back in court on Dec. 21.
“Unfortunately, the nature of these charges do not allow them to ask that he be held without bail,” Shelvey said. Sohmer was ordered not to contact minors under 18 and was forbidden from accessing the internet, although he is allowed the use of a cell phone.
A cyber tip to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in June led to the Oct. 18 search of Sohmer’s home in Otis, Massachusetts, where officials found the images and videos of child pornography, the D.A. told TheWrap.
Local paper The Berkshire Eagle first reported that prosecutors claim Sohmer not only possessed and disseminated, but produced the content.
In a statement to TheWrap, The Recount said that Sohmer was no longer editor-in-chief of the political site specializing in video and social media journalism. His departure came “following a company restructure exercise in early October to focus on our editorial and commercial plans,” the statement said. A company spokesperson had no further comment.
Sohmer has a longstanding journalism career at a number of New York City-based digital outlets. In addition to The Recount, where he served as editor-in-chief for four years, he was the managing editor for news and video at Mic, a political news radio host at SiriusXM, and was cofounder of the internet news site Hyper Vocal.
The charges against Sohmer additionally cast Sohmer’s time as a summer camp counselor and director in a different light. The journalist also went mildly viral for his dealings with young children in 2018 after posting a Twitter thread about visiting his mother’s fourth grade class.
A 2014 Instagram post from Summer 365 — who advise and advocate for sleepaway camps and summer programs — featured a picture of Sohmer with several young campers in the background. The caption identifies him as “camp legend Slade Sohmer.” Sohmer’s LinkedIn lists him as a codirector a Camp Power since 2010.
Summer 365 did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Buzzfeed ran the story about visiting his mother’s fourth grade classroom in 2018. Via a series of tweets, he said he was worried about telling the class of 10 year-olds, who peppered him with questions, that he lives with his boyfriend.
“It’s not like I misjudged these kids or had any preconceived notions,” he told BuzzFeed at the time. “I just don’t know what today’s fourth graders know about love and sexuality and gender and all its modern permutations. I’m glad it went down the way it did, but it’s not like I expected them to throw tomatoes at me after the big reveal.”
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