Wendel Palmer, D.C. officer, charged with sexually abusing 11-year-old girl

Wendel Palmer

A D.C. police officer has been arrested and charged with sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl inside a Southeast D.C. church that his family runs.

Police say Wendel Palmer, who joined the department in 1990 and is assigned to the Sixth District, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree child sexual abuse.

The alleged abuse occurred when the accuser was a juvenile, almost 10 years ago. Prosecutors say the assaults continued for two years.

A judge ruled Thursday that Palmer must be held at least until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for next week.

Charging documents state Palmer led the youth choir group and that is how he allegedly found his victim.

The victim, who is now 19, says most of the abuse took place in the Bethuel Temple Church of Christ Apostolic. She says it started when she was 11, but also said it happened too many times to count.

Palmer would give the choir a break and send the other children away and tell her to stay behind. She says he would take her to the pastor's office where he sexually abused her.

The victim revealed the alleged assaults to her mother in March. An investigation led to the arrest and charging of the police officer.

No one at the church would address the charges specifically with ABC7, but some familiar with the church expressed disgust with what is alleged to have taken place.

No one was home when ABC7 knocked at Palmer's Fort Washington, Maryland home Thursday night.

Neighbors, some of whom have known Palmer and his family for a long time, say he has never appeared to be anything but a genuinely nice man.

"I can't imagine somebody like him doing what he's accused of," said neighbor Wilbert Moore. “I just can't imagine it."

Palmer has been placed on leave from the force with pay, pending the outcome of his case.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.