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A veteran District of Columbia police officer has been arrested on charges that he sexually abused a girl who participated in his church choir, the authorities said.
Wendel Palmer, who joined the department in 1990 and had been assigned to its Sixth District, was arrested Wednesday on a charge of first-degree child sexual abuse.
The abuse was reported last March by the accuser's mother, police said, and occurred between August 2004 and August 2006, when the girl was between 11 and 13 years old.
Palmer, 44, directed the girl in a choir at a D.C. church that she her and her family attended and which his family ran, police said. The girl alleged that much of the abuse occurred at the church during rehearsal breaks, when Palmer would ask that she stay with him in the pastor's office while the other children were sent to the store, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
The accuser reported “that there were too many incidents to count,” the affidavit states.
On one occasion, police said, Palmer began to sexually assault the girl without a condom but stopped after she told him he was hurting her.
In March, the accuser picked out Palmer's picture from a photo array of nine D.C. police officers, police said.
Phone messages left at the church Thursday weren't immediately returned.
It wasn't immediately clear if Palmer had a lawyer, and messages left at a listing for Palmer in Prince George's County weren't returned Thursday. His commander at the Sixth District, which patrols sections of northeast and southeast Washington, didn't return a call seeking comment.
Palmer was notified on Tuesday that he was being charged with a crime. On Wednesday morning, police said, he showed up at the police union office but left in an apparent rush after encountering an off-duty youth division officer he knew. That officer, who knew of the outstanding arrest warrant against Palmer, called for help in having Palmer arrested, police said. She then followed him in her car but lost track of him after a UPS truck pulled in front of her vehicle.