Evidence challenge pushed back in molestation case against ex-cop

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

An evidence challenge involving a former York City police officer accused of child molestation will hold off for a few months.

Joseph Palmer Jr., 29, was due in court May 2 for a hearing on a series of filings over evidence and witnesses in his case. The hearing, though, was postponed shortly before starting.

Palmer faces counts of unlawful sexual contact with a minor, indecent assault of a minor, corruption of minors, unlawful sexual communication with a minor, having sexual images of a minor on a computer and child pornography.

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.

Investigators allege he molested a teen twice between September 2021 and January 2022 shortly after the two met. He’s also accused of sexting the teen and exchanging explicit images over Snapchat.

Palmer, a former juvenile engagement officer, asked the teen to delete conversations and other items from her phone, and they set their Snapchat accounts to immediately delete messages, authorities said in court documents.

The York County District Attorney’s Office also accused Palmer, in a new motion last week, of having a pattern of exchanging sexually charged images and videos with other people on Snapchat.

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The document listed 11 witnesses with similar accounts of interactions with Palmer, including one identified as a 15-year-old juvenile.

Prosecutors filed the motion for introducing prior bad acts to argue the witnesses’ testimony would establish Palmer’s pattern of behavior if the case goes to trial.

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

The filing came after Palmer’s attorney, Christopher Ferro filed petitions in February to have evidence dismissed.

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He noted then that explicit messages with witnesses came during consensual relationships and without complaint as he argued the testimony would be more prejudicial against Palmer than relevant to the criminal case.

Ferro also sought to have a recorded phone call dismissed as a violation of Pennsylvania’s Wire Tap Act.

And he wanted the counts of unlawful sexual communication with a minor, sexual images and child pornography dismissed on arguments investigators could find no digital evidence of the images.

After the hearings were postponed Tuesday, they were rescheduled to be held Aug. 2 before York County Court of Common Pleas Judge Harry Ness.

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