Conviction of Unity man found guilty of raping teen overturned
The conviction of a Unity man who is serving up to eight years in prison for the rape of a teenage girl has been overturned.
A Westmoreland County jury in August found Bruce Palmer, 34, guilty of rape, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault and 10 other related counts in connection with crimes claimed to have occurred over a three-year period that ended in 2014. Palmer maintained his innocence during the trial and claimed his now 20-year-old accuser concocted the allegations.
Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger, in a nine-page opinion issued Friday, said Palmer should receive a new trial because testimony from his accuser was contradicted by other evidence and her repeated emotional outbursts witnessed by jurors inside and out of the courtroom were “contrived” and could have impacted the outcome of the case.
The judge ruled no single issue led to his decision but that “taken together, however, the nature and context of the contradictory testimony, the almost complete lack of detailed, corroborating testimony from the victim, the timing and context of the victim’s initial complaints and the shadow cast over the trial by the victim’s very visible, often melodramatic displays in front of the jury compel this court to grant defendant’s motion for a new trial,” Krieger wrote.
In November, Palmer was ordered by Krieger to serve four to eight years in prison.
Palmer’s girlfriend, Marie Ann Farabaugh, 40, of Unity was convicted in the same trial of lesser charges. Jurors found her guilty of child endangerment and reckless endangerment for not intervening and stopping the alleged sexual assaults.
Krieger sentenced her to serve two years on probation, including six months of house arrest.
District Attorney John Peck said he disagreed with Krieger’s ruling with regards to Palmer’s conviction. He said he is reviewing the case to determine if Parker will be retried or if the judge’s ruling should be appealed.
“The victim’s testimony was evaluated by 12 jurors in this case who found her to be credible and beyond reasonable doubt. It is not uncommon for there to be conflicts in cases where there are sexual assault allegations against a child,” Peck said.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .