By: Tyler Calkins
One of the most controversial stories to hit Atlanta’s LGBT community this year has left us all in a state of disbelief – shocked and sickened at the news that the former Brushstrokes co-owner, Tom Schloeder, was convicted on child pornography charges.
This morning FENUXE Magazine spoke to Tom Schloeder, who openly admitted that Mark Jackson’s version of what happened was not the whole truth; he had lied to his husband.
When FENUXE’s publisher and editor sat down Thursday with Mark Jackson, Schloeder was portrayed as a victim by Jackson who declared that he “loves his husband” and was going to “stand by him.” We quoted him word for word in one long block quote. To provide our readers with both sides of the story, we followed Jackson’s statement in the article with specific information from the U.S. Attorney’s press release that contradicted what he told FENUXE. [Read that story here]
Despite the passionate explanation given to FENUXE by Jackson, the facts just didn’t add up as the explanation raised more questions than it provided answers. As a result, FENUXE spoke to Schloeder early Friday morning and asked a few follow-up questions. This is what he had to say:
Schloeder said, “Mark told you these things because he was relaying information to you that I told him. He doesn’t understand the whole peer-to-peer thing. He doesn’t understand these things on the internet. That’s how he interpreted it and relayed it. But, you know, it’s unfortunately … it’s… it’s put us in an awkward position, and I’d like to set the record straight, but, I’m afraid to.”
Schloeder offered the following in an effort to set the record straight:
“There was a file — but it wasn’t sent to me. I searched for it. But, Mark still doesn’t understand how that all works. I tried to explain that to him last night. It wasn’t a man who sent me a file. This was someone that I knew in school who had told me about the files. This is back in 2006 when I was in Phoenix for my 40th birthday. Someone from when I was very young…we were childhood friends. I’ve known him since kindergarten. We used to fool around. I thought it was perfectly natural. I thought everyone [fooled around]. I didn’t know someone was recording it, taking lots of movies and stills. I learned about [these photos] in 2006. He told me that it was on a file sharing service. So, I started looking for these files trying to identify me or anyone I knew. I came across several of me being abused. And then, early last year I found a treasure trove. I found a whole bunch of files. I got carried away. It really started to mess me up. That’s when my whole insecurity caught up with me. So, I went way too far. I wasn’t thinking of calling the police because I was so ashamed and embarrassed that someone would have done this. It never occurred to me to call them. I didn’t want my name being brought up with this and I didn’t want anyone I knew brought up in this. The problem is that this is not a defense. The U.S. Attorney had all of this evidence. It didn’t matter if I was depicted in it or not. I had it and that’s all they cared about. I was looking at a maximum of 25 years and they offered me 8, so I took it. That’s why it didn’t go to trial. None of this was brought up. If it had been brought in front of a jury they would’ve found me guilty. The prosecutor didn’t do anything wrong. They did their job. They didn’t suppress anything – they had an airtight case. I didn’t want to draw media attention. I didn’t want to draw any public scrutiny. I wanted this to be done. This is why i did the plea deal. I was absolutely horrified and ashamed. I was trying to spare Mark, my business, and my friends. And I thought it was all over until [the U.S. Attorney’s office] released that press statement. Then my world came crashing down. I let it get out of hand. The images, it’s … they’re despicable. Disgusting. And it became my obsession. I was looking for people I knew – anything connected to me. I don’t even remember a lot of this in the pictures. There’s a huge blank memory for that period of time. It wasn’t until I got with my therapist that I started dealing with things in my past.”
When asked about the future of Brushstrokes, Schloeder said, “The business shouldn’t suffer for what I did. My employees should not suffer; my husband should not suffer. We’ve always kept a nice, clean, tight business that serves the community. I really hate the fact that [the U.S. Attorney’s Office] identified me as an owner of Brushstrokes – they could have left that out. They were trying to not only damage my reputation, but damage the business, and my husband.”
Before Schloeder ended the conversation, FENUXE specifically asked who knew what and when did they find out. Schloeder responded, “Mark is the innocent one in all of this. I relayed false information to him. You know, it’s hard for me to talk about this. Up until a couple of days ago I couldn’t talk about it. So, I guess there is something liberating about having your life split open for the world to talk about. It gives you the freedom to talk about your past and live open and honestly. I didn’t even tell my lawyer some of this.”
Schloeder also mentioned that a local gay media outlet “knew about this entire situation since last November. And [they] sat on it because Brushstrokes is an advertiser.”
When something happens in our community, FENUXE is going to let you know every side of the story even with something as disgusting as child pornography. And, if one of those stories doesn’t add up, we will research it. We’ll find the facts. And we will set the record straight. In order to provide you with more information, FENUXE also encourages you to check out the excellent investigative reporting by the GA Voice which uncovered that Schloeder was “previously incarcerated on a child exploitation offense back when he was in the military.” See the full story here: http://www.thegavoice.com/news/atlanta-news/6460-hearing-transcript-brushstrokes-schloeder-admitted-child-porn-possession-had-past-child-related
Editor’s Note: Upon hearing about this story on Wednesday, FENUXE reached out to Tom Schloeder who mentioned his problems were a technicality. The store’s troubled past with the City of Atlanta was also mentioned. FENUXE regrets and takes full responsibility for posting the erroneous information from Schloeder as a Facebook status update. We always try to represent the concerns of the LGBT community, however, we should have fully vetted his claim before posting this status update on Facebook.