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Dale Palmer, Sr.

Other Ohio No Crime Cases
In May 1992, 37-year-old Dale Palmer, Sr. accused his wife of infidelity and moved out of the family home in Brunswick, Ohio, taking the couple’s two children with him, a seven-year-old girl and a four-year-old boy. Three days later, Palmer’s wife, Julie, found the children at Palmer’s father’s home and took them back.

Palmer and his wife filed separate petitions for divorce and both sought custody of the children.

Shortly thereafter, the boy was found engaging in sexually explicit conduct with another young boy from the neighborhood. When his mother asked the boy where he had learned such behavior, he said, “My daddy.”

The mother contacted human services organizations and was referred a local hospital where Dr. Amy Richardson examined the children. Richardson said she found physical evidence of trauma consistent with sexual abuse in the anal and genital areas of both children. The children were then referred to Dr. Suzanne LeSure, a clinical psychologist, who began counseling them using a protocol based on “good touches and bad touches.”

In August 1992, Dr. LeSure reported to Ohio Human Services officials that the girl told her that Palmer had put a finger in her vagina and a pen in her anus. LeSure said the boy also told her that his father had put a pen in his anus, but that he had also been touched in his anal/genital area by other children as well as a teenager who babysat for the children.

Following the report, a criminal investigation commenced and in December 1992, Palmer was indicted on multiple counts of rape and sexual abuse of the children.

Palmer went to trial in Medina County Court of Common Pleas in March 1994. The children both testified that Palmer had inserted a pen into their anuses and the daughter testified that he had digitally penetrated her vagina.

Dr. Richardson testified to her physical findings of sexual abuse and Dr. LeSure testified that both children exhibited behavior consistent with having been sexually abused.

A defense expert, Dr. Dawn Lord, testified that LeSure’s “good touch and bad touch” protocol was unreliable, untested and below the minimum standard for counseling sexual abuse victims. Dr. Lord also told the jury that the diagrams and other writings made by the girl during the treatment sessions contained evidence that the girl was told about her brother’s statements—in effect evidence of contamination of the interview process that called into question the girl’s claim of being sexually abused by Palmer.

On March 14, 1994, the jury acquitted Palmer of the charges of sexually abusing the boy and one of count of sexual battery of the girl. He was convicted of felonious sexual penetration with a pen involving the girl. The jury found that the act was committed by the use or threat of force, which triggered a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

In February 1995, the Ohio Court of Appeals for the Ninth District upheld Palmer’s conviction. That same month, the girl told her mother that her testimony had been false and that Palmer had never sexually abused her.

Based on the recantation, Palmer filed a motion for a new trial. At a hearing in July 1996, the girl testified that after her younger brother was discovered engaged in sexual activity with a neighborhood boy, both she and her brother were sent for medical examinations. She testified that the physician told her it appeared she had been sexually abused.

The girl testified that she concocted the story of being molested after the doctor told her she had been “touched.” She said she “had to make something up…because the doctor said that someone touched me, and then I just blamed it on him.”

The defense also presented the testimony of a physician who said that the original medical findings of sexual abuse based on physical examinations were wrong and relied on assumptions about sexual abuse that had been refuted by research studies in the late 1980s.

At the conclusion of the hearing, Palmer’s motion for a new trial was granted after the judge found the girl’s recantation and the defense medical testimony credible. In January 1997, the prosecution dismissed the charge and Palmer was released from prison.

Palmer later filed a petition seeking a declaration of innocence. The petition was denied in June 1999.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 1/7/2015
Most Serious Crime:Child Sex Abuse
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1992
Age at the date of reported crime:37
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, False or Misleading Forensic Evidence
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No