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  Appeals Court Affirms Guilty Verdict On Man Charged With Rapes Of 10-Year-Old Girl  
  January 20, 2022 Edition  
     BY JOHN A. DARNELL JR.
      associate editor
      The Seventh District Court of Appeals has affirmed a guilty verdict on 12 counts of rape and one count of gross sexual imposition leveled against a Cleveland man who had been charged and convicted of repeatedly raping a 10-year-old girl who lived in an apartment building at 4890 Brookwood Rd. during a one-year period, between 2015 and 2016.
      Jeffrey Palmer, 34, was found guilty on the charges on Oct. 3, 2019 in the Mahoning County Common Pleas Court of Judge Maureen Sweeney.
      He was given a sentence of 40 years to life in jail on the charges.
      Judge Sweeney ruled the sentence was “necessary to protect the public from future crimes…and the danger Palmer poses to the public.”
      In Apr. 2018, the girl’s 31-year-old mother told police her daughter had been raped multiple times by her ex-boyfriend, whom she first met on-line.
      According to police, the victim’s mother said that Palmer lived with her for about a year and when she went to work, Palmer would watch the child.
      The girl told Det. Michael Sweeney “almost immediately” after her mother left her in Palmer’s custody, he began to rape her.
      “The child advised that Palmer would rape her almost daily and that he would rape her multiple times a day,” Det. Sweeney said, adding he was told that “Palmer would follow her into her bedroom after she took a shower and ‘would take my clothes off and put me on the bed.’”
      The girl detailed a variety of assaults to police; and also said she had been hesitant to tell anyone about the rapes because Palmer threatened to kill her mother if she told anyone.
      According to Assistant Mahoning County Prosecutor Ralph Rivera, the girl stated if she screamed during acts of sexual abuse, Palmer “would like put a blanket inside her mouth,” adding Palmer told her “If I could do this with you, I would never touch your mom again.”
      When her mother first learned of the allegations, she immediately took her daughter to Akron Childrens Hospital the same day.
      Since his conviction, Palmer has been incarcerated in Marion, Oh.
      An appeal of his convictions on a variety of assignments of error was filed before the Seventh District Court by Atty. John Juhasz, of West Blvd., Boardman, who was appointed at public cost. Among the claims of error, Juhasz said that Palmer had been denied due process, and his court-appointed counsel in Judge Sweeney’s court was “ineffective.” In each instance, the Seventh District Court said Juhasz’s assertions were meritless.
      The record of the court includes a document entitled “Introduction and Summary,” signed by Palmer, who says he was involved “in the legal equivalent of a greased pig contest,” additionally claiming he had erectile dysfunction and libido issues, perhaps documented by an extended stay at St. Vincent Hospital in Cleveland.
      Palmer also claimed in the document it was “evident” he stayed at the Brookwood apartment for only 60 days.
      Palmer claimed his trial counsel allowed him “to be depicted as a vile criminal, a sexual deviant even with a terrible disposition and respect for nothing or no one.”
      Palmer concluded the trial “was a true and literal public lynching in every sense where no real justice can be seen.”
      The young girl testified at his trial, and Palmer opined “the testimony constantly changed…then that means the evidence constantly changed, and no one can ever meaningfully defend themselves against ever changing evidence.”
      In its decision, the Seventh District Court, in an opinion authored by Judge Gene Donofrio, ruled there was adequate evidence of sexual conduct that was presented to sustain the rape charges. Judges Cheryl Waite and Carol Robb concurred.
      In claiming ineffectiveness of his trial lawyer, The Seventh District Court said that Palmer asserted his counsel “admitted he was unprepared for trail.”
      “The test for determining whether counsel was ineffective is: 1) Whether counsel’s performance was deficient; and 2) If so, whether the deficiency resulted in prejudice,” The Seventh District Court said, noting “In order to meet the prejudice prong, [Palmer and his counsel. Atty. Juhasz]…must show a reasonable probability that, but for (trial) counsel’s errors, the result of the proceeding would have been different.”
      The claims of ineffective counsel “lacks merit,” the Seventh District Court said.
      In other assertion of error, Atty. Juhasz took issue with testimony given in Judge Sweeney’s Court by a nurse practitioner from Akron Childrens Hospital, claiming their testimony “improperly bolstered (the young girl’s) testimony and its truthfulness.”
      “The [nurse practitioner] is an expert in this case, due to her specialized knowledge, training, education and experience in child abuse pediatrics,” The Seventh District Court said.
      It added, “We…find no error by the trail court in admitting [the nurse practitioner’s] testimony that the [victim’s] behavior in this case was consistent with behaviors she had observed in other sexually abused children….
      “She explained that children sometimes disclose only increments of the abuse because they are embarrassed or worried about how adults around them will respond.”
      Atty Juhasz also took issue with Atty. Rivera, as well as Boardman Police Sgt. Charles Hillman Jr., who referred to the child as a ‘victim.’
      “While the prosecution referred to the [child] as a victim once…and Sgt. Hillman referred to her in this capacity four times, it does not rise to the level of prejudice,” the Seventh District Court said.
 
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