MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Acting Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens II announced May 7 that Kenneth Palmer, a former paraprofessional at Jefferson Elementary School in Maplewood, has been sentenced to 10 years in New Jersey State Prison for masturbating in the hallways of the school and taking an inappropriate photograph of a student.
Palmer, 22, of Randolph, was arrested on Sept. 28, 2017, at a ShopRite in Succasunna in a different case. During that investigation by the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office, authorities discovered videos on his phone of Palmer masturbating in front of children. It was later determined the conduct took place in the hallways of Jefferson school, where he was employed at the time. He also took an “upskirt” photo of a little girl at the same school. It was unclear whether children saw his conduct, but the law does not require that they observe him.
He was charged in Essex County with sexual assault for engaging in an act of criminal sexual contact with himself in view of children younger than 13, said Assistant Prosecutor Deborah Freier, who handled the case.
Palmer entered a guilty plea on Oct. 15, 2018, on multiple counts of sexual assault by contact and one count of endangering the welfare of a child for taking the “upskirt” image of the child.
Superior Court Judge John Zunic sentenced Palmer to 10 years, seven of which are subject to the No Early Release Act.
Assistant Prosecutor Freier said, “New Jersey law protects children under the age of 13 from being subjected to sexual conduct like this, regardless of whether they saw or understood it.”