A veteran Miami-Dade County police sergeant, already facing charges for plying a 15-year-old boy with drugs and alcohol and masturbating in front of him, was charged Thursday with 12 counts of possessing child pornography, his lawyer said.
The graphic videos, part of a collection of 69 videos that Miami-Dade Det. Juan España said were taken from James Edwards III’s personal computer, were found at his home after officers arrested him last August and charged him with lewd and lascivious conduct and exhibition. That case is still pending.
“The videos found depicted pornography involving young males naked and engaged in sexual acts, including oral and penile,” España wrote in a fact sheet supporting the arrest warrant.
As of Thursday night Miami-Dade police had not yet released an arrest affidavit, though Edwards’ defense attorney, Michael Catalano, confirmed that his client had been arrested and charged. Catalano, though, said he has not yet seen any of the evidence.
“Given everything I know about his case, whatever video is in question, I don’t think it depicts people under the age of 18,” Catalano said. “They’re probably 19.’’
According to España, the detective who arrested Edwards last summer, the case was bolstered by a visit to the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, where Dr. Walter Lambert analyzed the videos and concluded they met the criteria for child pornography.
Lambert, associate professor of pediatrics and medical director of the UM Child Protection Team, told España that in the nine videos he viewed — all male-on-male sex involving various sex acts — the “victims” appeared to be younger than 18, according to the facts supporting the arrest warrant. By early evening Thursday, Edwards’ arrest had not yet been listed on the Miami-Dade Corrections website.
Police said that last August Edwards, 47, a 27-year police veteran, invited a teenager to his home to help do landscape work. There, he is alleged to have given the teen “honey whiskey,” pot and the synthetic drug Molly before committing a sex act in front of him. The arrest affidavit said Edwards was wearing his police uniform when he picked up the teen.
The affidavit says while watching a porn movie at Edwards’ home, he began touching and caressing the teen, who grew uncomfortable when Edwards asked for oral sex. State prosecutor Laura Adams told the court that detectives were monitoring a phone call between the teen and Edwards when he admitted to the crime.
Edwards has been under house arrest since August, when he was granted an $85,500 bond.
Miami Herald Staff Writer David Ovalle contributed to this report.