Miami-Dade County

Miami-Dade police sergeant charged with groping teen, giving him drugs

A longtime Miami-Dade police sergeant plied a 15-year-old boy with drugs and alcohol before groping the teen and masturbating in front of him, authorities say.

James H. Edwards III, 47, was booked into jail early Wednesday, charged with lewd and lascivious conduct and exhibition.

The 27-year veteran of the police force appeared in court Wednesday and was granted an $85,500 bond. He will be under house arrest while awaiting trial.

Edwards may not access the Internet or have contact with minors, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Ellen Sue Venzer ruled.

“He is one of the finest police officers I’ve ever met,” his defense attorney, Michael Catalano, told the judge. “This is crazy.”

According to the arrest report, Edwards invited the teen to his home earlier this month to help do landscape work. He picked him up while “wearing his police duty uniform” and in his patrol car, the report said.

At his home, Edwards gave the teen “honey whiskey,” marijuana and the amphetamine known as Molly, according to the arrest report. Edwards himself took a Molly pill, police said.

As the two did drugs and watched a pornographic movie on the Internet, Edwards began touching and caressing the teen, police said. The teen grew uncomfortable as Edwards asked for oral sex, then masturbated.

The teen reported the episode. Edwards was arrested. With police detectives secretly monitoring a phone call, the teen later dialed Edwards, who admitted to the crimes, prosecutor Laura Adams told the court.

The sergeant later confessed to detectives, according to Miami-Dade police.

He was also arrested in a separate case on allegations he gave drugs and showed pornography to the teen’s 16-year-old brother.