Police Blotter: Cop molests girl at church; Maryland fire deaths down

Local,Crime,Scott McCabe

Office sexually molested girl at church, D.C. police say

A veteran D.C. police officer who also is a youth choir director is accused of sexually assaulting a young girl at his family's church in Southeast Washington.

Wendel Palmer, 44, was arrested Wednesday and charged with first-degree child sexual abuse.

According to charging documents, the investigation began in March when the victim's mother learned of the alleged incidents.

The victim told police that the sexual abuse began around 2004 when she was 11 at a church on the 2400 block of Martin Luther King Avenue SE.

Palmer typically would send the other children in the choir away and have the young girl stay back with him, court documents said.

Much of the abuse occurred inside the preacher's office, but also at other places in and around the District, documents said.

The abuse continued from the time she was in the sixth grade to the eighth grade, documents said.

Palmer, who joined the D.C. police in 1990, has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the criminal charges.

Fire deaths down in Md.

The Maryland State Fire Marshal's Office says fire-related deaths in the state fell by 22 percent last year, reports the Associated Press.

The agency said Thursday that 52 people died from fire injuries in 2012, down from 67 in 2011.

State Fire Marshal William Barnard says safer cigarettes were a leading factor in the downward trend. A state law passed in 2007 requires that cigarettes be able to extinguish more quickly.

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