Court date delayed for ex-York City officer charged in molestation case

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A former York City Police officer’s day in court was pushed back about a month while he faces accusations he “groomed and sexually assaulted” a teenage girl last year.

Joseph Palmer Jr., of Dover Township, had a hearing scheduled for Friday morning on charges of indecent assault, unlawful contact with a minor, corruption of minors and for having graphic images of a minor.

That hearing didn't happen.

A notice on the door of District Judge Barry Bloss' court, dated July 27, showed the court was ordered closed to the public Friday as part of a series of closure dates since August.

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Palmer's hearing was moved back to October, court records show.

Investigators say the 28-year-old, who began working as a juvenile engagement officer in March 2021, met the girl, now 16, during one of the department’s neighborhood walks last September.

They started having a mentor-like relationship through social media messaging, according to the criminal complaint. But those conversations allegedly turned sexual as the two messaged for about four or five months.

Police also accused Palmer of physically molesting the youth twice in his personal SUV — once in late September and again outside a bowling alley in December. The girl reached a point where she blocked Palmer on social media in late February, the complaint shows.

The teen's family ultimately sought a protection from intimidation order against Palmer, which prompted the department to place him on leave.

Palmer's attorney, Christopher Ferro, said his client "has always denied the allegations."

Palmer, who joined the York City Police Department in 2017, resigned in April. The charges in the criminal case were filed last month, about four months later.

A social media post announcing Joseph Palmer Jr.'s appointment as the York City Police Department's juvenile engagement officer.

He was initially scheduled to appear Friday for a preliminary hearing in District Judge Barry Bloss’ court.

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The hearing was rescheduled to Oct. 11, court records show.

The protection order was granted in March in a civil case and ordered to run indefinitely until modified or terminated. A hearing on that is next scheduled for November.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.