Connecticut woman sentenced to year in jail for voyeurism
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STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) -- A wealthy Connecticut woman whose criminal record was sealed from the public was sentenced Tuesday to a year in prison for secretly taking in three people, including a minor, in a manner that included sexual desire .
Hadley Palmer, 54, of Greenwich, was led out of the Stamford state courtroom in handcuffs by bailiffs. She declined to make a statement on her behalf during the hearing, answering only several yes-or-no questions from the judge.
Judge John Blawie, who sealed Palmer's file over objections from the Associated Press earlier this year, ordered the file to remain sealed Tuesday, with the details of charges contained in an arrest warrant protected from the public.
Blawie had previously ruled that the victims' privacy outweighed the public's interest in seeing the case documents and that it was not possible to redact all documents to adequately protect the victims' identities. The AP disagreed, saying that documents in many other Connecticut cases involving sex crimes had been redacted to protect victims.
Palmer, the daughter of prominent hedge fund founder Jerrold Fine, is in the process of divorcing her venture capitalist, Bradley Palmer. She can be seen in photos online at fundraiser galas and other social events. The sealing of her file has been called unusual by open-government advocates and defense attorneys unconnected to the case.
Under the verdict, which was part of a plea bargain, Palmer will also have to register as a sex offender for 10 years and will serve 20 years of probation after the prison sentence.
She pleaded guilty in January to three counts of voyeurism and one count of causing harm to a minor - all crimes committed between 2017 and 2018. Earlier this year she was already serving 90 days in prison. The penalty for pleading was a minimum of 90 days in prison and up to five years in prison.
Stamford-Norwalk District Attorney Paul Ferencek released some new details of the crimes on Tuesday, saying the victims were videotaped in various stages of undressing, including fully nude, without their knowledge or consent. He said the videos were used for the sexual gratification of Palmer and an unnamed third party.
Ferencek also said the victims did not want Palmer to serve more time in prison than she already had. But one of the victims, a woman, applied for a 30-year criminal protection order barring Palmer from contact with her, a request approved by Blawie.
"This is of course a shocking fact," said Ferencek. "I think that's a fair disposition."
The victims' lawyers declined to comment Tuesday, and none of the victims spoke in court.
Palmer's attorney, Michael Meehan, called the verdict fair.
"She took responsibility for her actions," Meehan said. "This is a very caring, loving and genuine person."
Blawie accepted the plea, saying, "Make no mistake, the defendant is paying a price for her actions."
Palmer's file has been sealed from the public since her arrest in October 2021. On the day of her arrest, she applied for a special parole program that automatically results in the defendants' files being sealed.
Blawie accepted the motion, but Palmer was ineligible for the program due to the seriousness of two of the original charges - employing a minor in an obscene performance and possession of child pornography. Those charges were dropped as part of the plea bargain.
Palmer later withdrew the parole program application, but Blawie kept the file sealed from the public.
Palmer also requested that the courtroom be closed during portions of Tuesday's sentencing hearing, including her own testimony, which was also unusual and was denied by the AP, but her attorneys withdrew the request at the last minute.
Adding to the secrecy surrounding Palmer's crimes was the fact that her name and court numbers frequently disappeared from the state court system's website in the months following her arrest. Because her application to the parole program was pending, her name and case numbers only appeared on the days she was scheduled to appear in court, in contrast to other cases that appear daily on the website and involve the parole program.
Court officials didn't know why Palmer's information sometimes disappeared from the site.
Almost every week people accused of sex crimes and crimes against children appear in Connecticut courts and their files are left unsealed. Arrest warrants detailing the allegations are generally publicly available, although victims' names may be redacted or substituted with pseudonyms.
This story has been corrected to show that Palmer's attorney withdrew the motion to close the courtroom and the motion was not denied by the judge.
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