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Former SiriusXM host Slade Sohmer charged with child sex crimes

Prosecutors say Slade Sohmer, 44, of Massachusetts received hundreds of images depicting child pornography.

Prosecutors say Slade Sohmer, 44, of Massachusetts received hundreds of images depicting child pornography.

Slade Sohmer, a former SiriusXM political host who recently served as the editor-in-chief of the digital news outlet The Recount, as he appeared in an undated Instagram photo. (Photo via Instagram)
Slade Sohmer, a former SiriusXM political host who recently served as the editor-in-chief of the digital news outlet The Recount, as he appeared in an undated Instagram photo. (Photo via Instagram)

A former SiriusXM talk show host who recently led the newsroom at a politics-oriented digital publication was arrested this week on criminal allegations of possessing child pornography.

Slade Sohmer, 44, was detained at his home in the Massachusetts town of East Otis one month after police executed a search warrant there.

The investigation against Sohmer began over the summer, when local police received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The nature of the tip wasn’t disclosed in court records reviewed by The Desk, but NCMEC often receives information from private tech providers like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Dropbox if they have reason to believe their devices or cloud storage solutions are being used to transmit or store child pornography.

Relying on the tip from NCEMC, police executed a search warrant on Sohmer’s home last month, where they detained the journalist for questioning and seized several computers and smartphones. A forensic examination uncovered more than 1,300 pornographic images, hundreds of which showed child sex abuse, according to prosecutors, as well as numerous text messages where he allegedly discussed a fantasy involving the kidnap and rape of a toddler.

Prosecutors charged Sohmer with two counts of possessing illegal material and two counts of distributing child pornography. He was released on bail this week, with a magistrate judge banning him from accessing the Internet while the case against him proceeds. A local newspaper reported on Tuesday that Sohmer is also under investigation for producing images that show children engaged in sexual acts, though prosecutors have yet to substantiate that claim.

Sohmer has worked in a variety of journalism-related roles, including serving as the host of SiriusXM’s “Politics Powered by Twitter” in the early 2010s. (Disclosure: The author of this story was interviewed by Sohmer on that program in 2012.) He also served as a freelance writer for a number of digital news outlets, including the website HyperVocal, before joining the anonymous town square app Whisper as its head of news in 2014.

His most recent role saw Sohmer leading the newsroom at the left-of-center digital politics outlet The Recount. He was dismissed from his role as editor-in-chief last month as part of a broader restructuring effort at The Recount, and while the timing of his departure lines up with his arrest, his job loss appears unrelated to the criminal investigation.

Separate from his career, Sohmer volunteered as a summer camp counselor on more than one occasion. In 2014, one of the camps where Sohmer volunteered posted an image to their Instagram account that included a caption about the benefits of sending children to summer camp.

“There are two kinds of people you meet in this world: Those that went to camp and those who didn’t,” Sohmer said, according to Summer 365.  “The ones who did are infinitely better socialized, make fast friends, and know how to best interact with others in modern society.”

That same year, Sohmer posted a series of tweets in which he recalled speaking before a classroom full of fourth graders at the school where he mother taught. He wrote that the students peppered him with a number of personal questions, and he struggled with whether he should disclose to them his sexuality and that he lived with his then-boyfriend.

“I just don’t know what today’s fourth graders know about love and sexuality and gender and all its modern permutations,” Sohmer told the website BuzzFeed after the publication picked up on his tweet storm. “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.”

Over the past few weeks, Sohmer has tried desperately to disappear from the Internet and scrub any trace of his past life behind. His social media profiles on Instagram and X (formerly Twitter) have been deleted, and his account on Facebook has been locked so only his friends may access it.

Sohmer is the latest high-profile journalist to be charged with receiving and possessing child pornography in recent years.

Last year, former ABC News investigative producer James Gordon Meek took a leave of absence from the network after law enforcement executed a search warrant on his Washington, D.C.-area home. The raid was covered by Rolling Stone, whose article initially suggested Meek was targeted for his work on sensitive national security stories.

It was later revealed Rolling Stone’s top editor, Noah Shachtman, knew Meek was under investigation for child sex crimes, but ordered that information deleted from a pre-publication draft of the story. Meek was subsequently charged with numerous child pornography-related offenses and entered a guilty plea to some of those charges in July.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story said investigators allegedly located over 1,300 images showing child sex abuse on devices seized from Slade Sohmer’s home. A spokesperson for the district attorney’s office where Sohmer was charged later clarified that only a few hundred of the 1,300 pornogrpahic images purportedly found on Sohmer’s computers and phones showed child pornography.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is a nationally-recognized, award-winning journalist who has covered the business of media, technology, radio and television for more than 11 years. He is the publisher of The Desk and contributes to Know Techie, Digital Content Next and StreamTV Insider. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, the Walt Disney Company, McNaughton Newspapers and Tribune Broadcasting.
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