VERO BEACH, Fla. - This week's lewd or lascivious battery charges against a former Vero Beach Police officer and Indian River County Sheriff's deputy are not the first time he has faces such allegations against children, according to court documents.
James H. Scharfschwerdt, 53, of St. Augustine was arrested Wednesday morning in St. Johns County and charged with three counts of lewd or lascivious battery on a child. He continued to be held Thursday morning in lieu of $1.5 million bail at the St. Johns County Jail.
Indian River County court records show Scharfschwerdt in the fall of 1988 was charged with more than a dozen counts of lewd or lascivious acts against a child and battery. He was Vero Beach Police officer then, but promptly suspended after the arrest.
However, in November 1990 a jury found him not guilty of three counts of felony lewd or lascivious acts against a child and one count of misdemeanor battery, court records show.
His next trial on two other lewd or lascivious charges was to start in December 1990, but he entered a plea agreement with the State Attorney's Office on Nov. 29, 1990.
The plea agreement allowed him to plea no contest to misdemeanor battery in exchange for the state to drop nine felony counts of lewd or lascivious acts against a child.
Further details about why the agreement was reached were not immediately available.
The judge accepted the plea agreement and sentenced him to one year of supervised probation.
Scharfschwerdt worked for the Indian River County Sheriff's Office for a few years in the early 1980s, spokesman Deputy Jeff Luther said on Wednesday. Vero Beach police said they hired Scharfschwerdt in February 1985 and fired him in October 1988.
Police spokesman Officer John Morrison on Wednesday said the department would not comment on a previous employee.
Scharfschwerdt is also a competitive angler and directs the annual Frances Langford Memorial Fishing Tournament, which is held each spring in Jensen Beach. He competed with the Wound Tight Fishing Team LLC in a number of tournaments. Scharfschwerdt has also been active with the Southern Kingfish Association, which organizes fishing events throughout the southeast U.S.
This story will be updated when further information is obtained.
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