Former York City cop accused in molestation case appears in court

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A former York City police officer accused of molesting a teenager appeared in court Wednesday as his case progresses.

Joseph Palmer Jr., 29, was a juvenile engagement officer until he resigned last April. Investigators alleged he molested a girl, had sexually charged social media conversations, and exchanged lewd photos and videos with her over about five months from late 2021 into early 2022.

Palmer is charged with 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 a misdemeanor count of indecent assault of a minor and another corruption of minors count.

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According to a 2019 newsletter, Joseph Palmer Jr. served in the Army National Guard, as a Lancaster County Corrections CERT officer and as a York County 911 dispatcher before joining the York City Police Department.

Attorneys indicated preparation work is still underway in the case. Another hearing was scheduled for April 4.

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.

The conversations allegedly turned sexual within days, including messages that suggested a romantic attachment, as well as exchanges of lewd images.

Police alleged Palmer also molested the girl twice when he gave her rides in his personal vehicle between that September and January 2022.

The girl eventually cut off the relationship and blocked Palmer on social media last February, investigators said. Her parents then learned of the alleged situation, called police and filed for a protection from intimidation order.

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Palmer was placed on leave when the investigation into the allegations began that March. He was charged about five months later.

The protection order was later withdrawn while the criminal case is underway.

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

Palmer, of Dover Township, joined the York City Police Department in 2017 and began working as a juvenile engagement officer in March 2021.

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

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