Protection order withdrawn against ex-cop accused of molesting youth

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

The family of a teenage girl who was allegedly sexually assaulted by a former York City police officer asked a judge to withdraw her protection order as the criminal case moves forward.

Joseph Palmer Jr., 29, faces a number of charges stemming from allegations first reported in March.

The girl's father told The York Dispatch the petition was withdrawn Wednesday because it became redundant to the criminal case. He had no further comment. The Dispatch has not disclosed the name of the girl due to her age and the nature of the accusations.

A file photo shows Joseph Palmer Jr. when he served as an officer with the York City Police Department.

Palmer met the girl, now 17, during a York City Police Department neighborhood walk in September 2021. They began a mentor-like relationship, which included messaging each other via social media, according to charging documents.

But the conversations allegedly turned sexual within days and continued over about five months, including messages that suggested a romantic attachment, according to the accusations.

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Palmer is also accused of molesting the girl twice in his personal vehicle over those months. The girl cut off the relationship and blocked Palmer on social media in February, investigators said.

The parents then learned of the alleged situation and called police, filing the protection petition at about the same time. Palmer was placed on leave when the investigation into the allegations began.

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

He was initially charged in August. The case then advanced out of a district court and into the York County Court of Common Pleas system Nov. 4, court records show.

The charges against Palmer include felony counts of unlawful sexual contact or communication with a minor, child pornography, having graphic images of a minor and corruption of minors, as well as misdemeanor counts of indecent assault of a minor and another corruption of minors.

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At a hearing Wednesday on the protection order, Judge Michael Flannelly granted the family's request for the withdrawal. He allowed it to end without prejudice, meaning the petition could be refiled at a later time.

Palmer’s attorney, Christopher Ferro, declined to comment on the hearing.

Palmer, of Dover Township, joined the York City Police Department in 2017 and began working as a juvenile engagement officer in March 2021. He resigned in April, about a month after the investigation began.

He remains free on $50,000 unsecured bail, court records show.

When the case transferred to the common pleas court, a count of having graphic images of a minor was replaced with the child pornography count.

He was scheduled to be arraigned in common pleas court on Nov. 29. That hearing was waived, according to court records, and a pretrial hearing was scheduled for Jan. 4.

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