State Attorney spokesperson Klare Ly reported to Historic City News yesterday afternoon as the sentence came down in the emotional case of a St Johns County man who, at one time, stood on the side of the law.
After moving to St Augustine in 1992, James Howard Scharfschwerdt, the 55-year-old former law enforcement officer who resided at 670 Kinlaw Road, found that he was unable to run from the demons that haunted him in Vero Beach — now, St Johns County Circuit Court Judge Michael Traynor has declared him a “sexual predator”.
Scharfschwerdt, standing next to his court appointed attorney, Jill Barger, pled “no contest” to a fourth charge of lewd or lascivious battery by engaging in sexual activity with a person 12-years-old, or older, but less than 16-years-old.
The evidence in the trial showed that Scharfschwerdt used alcohol and child pornography to coerce his victims to perform sexual acts.
At his trial on December 11, 2012, the jury deliberation lasted just a little over one hour before they found Scharfschwerdt guilty of three-counts of lewd or lascivious sexual battery — each a second-degree felony.
His “no contest” plea in the fourth case has earned Scharfschwerdt an additional 15 years in prison — to run concurrently with three life sentences handed down on the prior convictions.
Scharfschwerdt is still appealing those convictions; and, if a new trial is granted on those charges, Assistant State Attorney Jennifer Dunton says that Friday’s plea and sentence will be overturned.
The thrust of the defense appeal is related to testimony made during an earlier hearing from five boys, three from St Augustine, all of whom described being sexually abused at the hands of James Scharfschwerdt. Barger argues that the state should not have been allowed to admit their testimony under the Williams Rule.