Ex-officer gets life for sexual battery on minor

Published On: Feb 05 2013 11:10:02 AM EST   Updated On: Jan 21 2011 05:25:19 AM EST
ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -

A former Vero Beach police officer convicted of three counts of lewd and lascivious sexual battery on a minor was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison.

James Scharfschwerdt, 55, was found guilty in December after a two-day trial in St. Johns County. The judge, in sentencing Scharfschwerdt to three life terms, called his crimes planned and cruel and said he was in denial of his sickness.

Deputies said the investigation began when a teen boy reported an incident that occurred in July 2007 alleging that Scharfschwerdt had sex with him.

Scharfschwerdt targeted young boys in need of a father figure and would provide alcoholic beverages to his victims and showed pornographic movies to them, prosecutors said. They said he sexually battered a 14-year-old boy in three separate incidents.

The victim and his mother both spoke at Tuesday's sentencing hearing and also asked that Scharfschwerdt be sentenced to life so that he may never hurt another child.

Detectives said they learned that Scharfschwerdt was a former Vero Beach police officer in South Florida and was arrested in 1988 on similar allegations from numerous victims. He was acquitted on those charges.

Detectives said they served a search warrant at Scharfschwerdt's home in St. Johns County, where they seized several items of possible evidence.

"James Scharfschwerdt is a serial pedophile who deserves to die in prison," State Attorney R. J. Larizza said.

Defense lawyers are expected to appeal the conviction and sentence.