44-year-old Wendel Palmer was arraigned today in D.C. Superior Court on a charge of first-degree child sex abuse.
Through his lawyer, Harold Martin, he pleaded not guilty to allegations that he sexually assaulted a member of the youth choir at his church on numerous occasions while she was 11 years old and until she was 13 years old.
Court documents say Palmer was choir director at the Bethuel Temple Church of Christ Apostolic in Southeast D.C. and sexually abused the unnamed minor in the pastor's office there during rehearsal breaks, when he sent other choir members to the store.
The judge found probable cause to try Palmer on the charges and ordered him held pending a preliminary hearing next week, but did grant a defense motion to separate him from the general population in jail.
Law enforcement sources say Palmer was a Sixth District patrol officer until recently. It is unclear when or why his police powers were revoked.
Police Chief Cathy Lanier released the following statement, "While these incidents occurred nearly a decade ago, I was shocked to learn that he allegedly used his role in the church to prey on a young member of the community."