WASHINGTON (WJLA) - Emotional testimony began Thursday in the trial of a D.C. police officer who is accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl years ago.
For years, Officer Wendel Palmer allegedly raped the girl, who attended his family's church and sang in the youth choir.
Now in college, the alleged victim said in court Thursday that Palmer was more of a father figure.
"I felt like he'd do anything for us," she said.
The alleged victim testified that Palmer's father was the pastor at the Bethel Temple Church of Christ in Southeast Washington, and that Palmer and his children were family friends. While her own father was in jail, Palmer would often visit the alleged victim's house and school to help with disciplining.
She described the alleged sexual abuse, which she said took place at the church when she was 11, and Palmer was the youth choir director.
“We were on break,” the victim testified. “He sent the kids to the store. He told me to go to the back because he had to talk to me in the preacher’s office. He closed the door. He started touching me and kissing me.”
The alleged victim told the jury she didn’t come forward when she was younger because she didn't think anyone would believe the allegations.
"I was scared because he was a police officer. I thought about his kids not having a father," she said.
When the touching escalated to rape, she said, "It was a complete shock... I felt like I let it get that far by not saying anything."
Palmer, who joined the department in 1990, was arrested in January and charged with first-degree child sex abuse.