YORK, Pa. (WHTM) — York Mayor Michael Helfrich said Monday the city completed a strict background check before hiring Joseph A. Palmer, Jr., 28, who is now charged with abusing a 16-year-old girl — but that additional measures are now in place to further protect children.

“As soon as I heard of these allegations, I checked on our background check process, and we do a better job than even school districts or counseling agencies,” Helfrich said. There was really nothing more that we could do. There was no evidence of any of this.”

Palmer was a juvenile engagement officer for the city until he resigned following the allegations in April, which have now become felony charges. Helfrich said as soon as police and city leaders learned of the allegations, they handed the case over to York County District Attorney David Sunday.

The juvenile engagement program continues in partnership with West York Borough, which has an engagement officer.

“And we have two individuals in York City Police Department that are working with them,” Helfrich said. “And I made sure that there are layers of protection so that they are watching each other, and we are watching better and talking with our clients to make sure nothing untoward is is happening.”

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According to court documents, 28-year-old Joseph A. Palmer Jr. has been charged with five felonies and two misdemeanors. Palmer was a Juvenile Engagement Officer with the department.

Some felonies include:

  • Unlawful contact with a minor- sexual abuse
  • Dissemination of photos/ film of child sex acts
  • Contact with minor- sexual abuse

According to the documents, Palmer posted bail which was set at $50,000 and he has his preliminary hearing on Sept. 2.