In an enclave of Greenwich, Connecticut, whose multimillion-dollar estates are favored by hedge fund moguls and have their own private security force, the secret videos went unnoticed for nearly a year.
The recordings showed several minors in intimate situations without their knowledge, according to authorities, who called one of them a “lewd portrayal”.
Now a source of growing discussion in town, the videos were the work of one of the neighborhood residents.
The woman who recorded them, Hadley Palmer, 53, pleaded guilty in January to multiple felony charges in the voyeurism case. Last week, the judge sealed the court records, over the objections of an Associated Press reporter, underscoring the tension between open access to court records and calls for victim confidentiality.
A Greenwich psychologist was also arrested for failing to report the matter, as required by Connecticut child protection laws.
Authorities say Palmer committed the crimes in 2017 and 2018 in Belle Haven, where public records show she lived in a $10 million 19th-century Victorian home overlooking Long Island Sound. The enclave is known for the 1975 murder of Martha Moxley and the now overturned conviction of Michael Skakel, a cousin of Kennedy, for her murder.
At Belle Haven, privacy is paramount — so much so that regulations strictly prohibit strangers from carrying cameras.
Palmer was arrested in October on multiple counts, including employing a minor in a lewd performance, three counts of voyeurism, second-degree possession of child sexual abuse images and risk of injury for a child.
All three victims were minors at the time of the crimes, Greenwich Police Department spokesman Capt. Mark E. Zuccerella said Monday. At least one of the victims was 15 or younger, prompting the charge of child endangerment, police said.
As part of a plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop all charges of voyeurism and child endangerment.
According to the agreement – one of the few unsealed documents in the case – Palmer will have to register as a sex offender. Prosecutors have recommended that she serve 90 days to five years in prison, along with 20 years of probation.
Her sentencing is slated for August, but Palmer was admitted Feb. 4 to York Correctional Institution, a women’s prison in Niantic, Connecticut, where she is held No. 439165, according to the Connecticut Department of Correction. It wasn’t immediately clear if Palmer was trying to get a head start on his sentence.
For several months, Palmer’s arrest remained largely hidden from the public and the media. His lawyer decided in January to seal the case and close all legal proceedings, citing privacy concerns related to the victims, whose own lawyers have supported the move.
Palmer, whose father founded a hedge fund and who was frequently photographed at charity benefits in Greenwich and New York, was released on $750,000 bail.
Last week, a Connecticut Superior Court judge in Stamford granted a motion to seal the case, a decision the Associated Press had opposed. During a February 1 hearing, Dave Collins, a veteran Connecticut-based news service reporter, said the handling of the case after Palmer’s arrest had set a disturbing precedent, according to an audio recording from the proceedings obtained by The New York Times through a public records request.
“It looks almost like it’s a second level of justice, where some people keep things a secret,” Collins said.
Collins told the hearing that it was common for defendants’ names and court dates to appear on a public website operated by the Connecticut Judiciary, especially for those accused of crimes whose victims were children. One of the few items that appeared online, he said, was a one-page hearing notice on his request to seal the deal.
“The public needs to know how these cases are handled and judged,” Collins said. “Everyone else’s case is online. Why isn’t Mrs. Palmer?
Michael T. Meehan, an attorney for Palmer, responded during the hearing that his client did not seek special treatment and that her name appeared on a printout of the docket in the courthouse lobby at least four occasions. The defendant never asked to keep his information private prior to the motion to seal the record, he said.
Meehan did not immediately respond to multiple requests for additional comment.
During the hearing, Connecticut Superior Court Judge John F. Blawie said he had no control over the online records in the case.
“There is no two-tier justice,” Blawie said.
In her ruling on Wednesday, Blawie wrote that protecting the victims in the case trumps keeping the case open.
“While the defendant can be seen to have propelled herself into the public spotlight due to her wrongful conduct and the ensuing lawsuits, the same cannot be said for the parties already harmed by this case,” Blawie wrote. .
Through a spokesperson for the judiciary, Blawie declined to comment further.
Eugene J. Riccio, attorney for one of the victims, said in an email Friday that his client appreciated the court’s decision to protect privacy. And Audrey A. Felsen, who is representing another victim, said the sealing order had nothing to do with the accused — it was a matter of victims’ rights. Lawyers for the other victims declined to comment or did not respond to messages.
Just over a month after her initial arrest, Palmer was arrested a second time for violating certain conditions of her temporary release, according to court records, which did not specify what those violations were. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the charge associated with his second arrest.
In December, Dr. Jerome F. Brodlie, 83, a psychologist specializing in the treatment of children and adolescents and affiliated with Greenwich Hospital, was arrested in connection with the case, authorities said. He was charged with failing to report the abuse, neglect or injury of a child or the imminent risk of serious harm to a child, a misdemeanor.
Brodlie did not respond to an email seeking comment Thursday, and his attorney, Andrew B. Bowman, did not respond to requests for comment Thursday and Friday. Pleading information for Brodlie was not available as his case was sealed and his status with Greenwich Hospital was not immediately clear. A request for comment was also left with the hospital.
Court records show Palmer applied in October for an accelerated pretrial rehabilitation program, a pathway usually reserved for first-time offenders in lower-level criminal cases to avoid a prison sentence. She later withdrew her claim and accepted the plea deal in January.
Palmer, who has four children, is the daughter of Jerrold Fine, who in 1976 founded Charter Oak Partners Management in Westport, Connecticut, one of the first hedge funds, according to a profile of him on the Wharton School of the University. of Pennsylvania.
Palmer’s online searches yielded a series of photos of her at charity events and social events on Connecticut’s Gold Coast and Manhattan. There was a gala at Sotheby’s in New York to benefit pharmaceutical advances for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and a tennis challenge on Wall Street at a private club in Greenwich to support ovarian cancer research. , both in 2016.
In June 2020, Palmer filed for divorce from her husband of 28 years, Bradley C. Palmer, a Greenwich financier, according to court records. Bradley Palmer did not respond to multiple requests for comment Thursday, including messages left with his divorce attorneys.
It wasn’t the first time the couple had encountered controversy. In 2018, a home owned by a limited liability company registered in the name of Bradley Palmer on Martha’s Vineyard hosted a party at which several teenage boys in attendance engaged in a wave of vandalism, according to authorities and public records.
Two teenagers were arrested and at least 14 properties in Edgartown, Mass., a neighborhood known for its whaling captains’ homes, were vandalized, The Vineyard Gazette reported, adding that the teenagers were mostly from Greenwich and were to return home by private jet.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.