By DAVE COLLINS Associated Press
STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — A wealthy Connecticut woman whose criminal case file was sealed from public view was sentenced Tuesday to one year in jail for secretly recording three people, including a minor, in a manner involving sexual desire.
Hadley Palmer, 54, of Greenwich, was led out of the state courtroom in Stamford in handcuffs by judicial marshals. She declined to make a statement on her behalf during the hearing, only answering several yes or no questions by the judge.
Judge John Blawie, who sealed Palmer’s case file earlier this year over objections by the The Associated Press, ordered that the file remain sealed Tuesday, keeping the specifics of the charges included in an arrest warrant shielded from public view.
Blawie previously ruled the privacy of the victims outweighed the public’s interest in seeing the case documents, and it was not possible to redact all the documents to sufficiently protect the victims’ identities. The AP disagreed, saying documents in many other Connecticut cases involving sex crimes have been redacted in ways to protect the victims.
The daughter of a notable hedge fund founder, Jerrold Fine, Palmer is currently divorcing her venture capitalist husband, Bradley Palmer. She is seen in photos on the internet at fundraising galas and other society events. The sealing of her case file was called unusual by open government advocates and defense lawyers not associated with the case.
Under the sentence, which was part of a plea bargain, Palmer also must register as a sex offender for 10 years and will serve 20 years of probation after the jail term.
She pleaded guilty in January to three counts of voyeurism and one count of risk of injury to a minor — all felonies committed between 2017 and 2018. She already served 90 days in jail earlier this year. The sentencing range of the plea bargain was at least 90 days in jail and up to five years in prison.
Stamford-Norwalk State’s Attorney Paul Ferencek released some new details of the crimes Tuesday, saying the victims were video recorded in various stages of undress, including fully naked, without their knowledge or consent. He said the videos were used for the sexual gratification of Palmer and an unnamed third person.
Ferencek also said the victims did not want Palmer to serve more time in jail than she already had. But one of the victims, a female, requested a 30-year criminal protective order barring Palmer from having contact with her, a request approved by Blawie.
“Obviously this is an upsetting factual situation,” Ferencek said. “I think is is a fair disposition.”
The victims’ lawyers declined to comment Tuesday, and none of the victims spoke in court.
Palmer’s lawyer, Michael Meehan, called the sentence just.
“She’s taken responsibility for her actions,” Meehan said. “This is a very caring, loving and sincere human being.”
Blawie accepted the plea bargain, saying “Make no mistake, the defendant is paying a price for her actions.”
Palmer’s case file has been sealed from public view ever since her arrest in October 2021. On the day of her arrest, she applied for a special probation program that automatically results in the sealing of defendants’ files.
Blawie accepted the application, but Palmer was not eligible for the program because of 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 application for the probation program, but Blawie kept the case file sealed from the public.
Palmer also requested that the courtroom be closed during portions of Tuesday’s sentencing including her own statements, which also was unusual and opposed by the AP, but her lawyers withdrew the request at the last minute.
Adding to the secrecy surrounding Palmer’s crimes was the fact that her name and court case numbers often disappeared from the state court system’s website in the months following her arrest. As her application for the probation program was pending, her name and case numbers only appeared on the site on the days she was scheduled to be in court, unlike other cases that appear daily on the website and involve the probation program.
Court officials did not know why Palmer’s information disappeared sometimes from the website.
Nearly every week in Connecticut’s courts, people charged with sex crimes and crimes against children appear before judges and their case files aren’t sealed. Arrest warrants with detailed information on allegations are generally available to the public, although the names of the victims may be redacted or replaced with pseudonyms.