Former Miami-Dade Cop Convicted in Child Sex Case Sues County for Unused Sick PayEXPAND
Miami-Dade County Courts

Former Miami-Dade Cop Convicted in Child Sex Case Sues County for Unused Sick Pay

In September 2014, Miami-Dade Police Sgt. James Edwards submitted a two-sentence letter resigning from the department with a "heavy heart" because of personal circumstances. But those circumstances also happened to involve two other people: a 15-year-old boy and his 16-year-old brother.

That August, the then-47-year-old Edwards had been arrested on nine criminal charges after the two siblings accused the sergeant of sexual misconduct. The older boy said Edwards had masturbated in front of him and then performed oral sex. The younger brother said Edwards groped him, masturbated in front of him, and then suggested the teen "suck my dick."

In the end, Edwards was sentenced to just one year in jail and ten years of probation. Now the felon is suing the county for his unused sick and vacation time.

In court filings from December 2016, Edwards' attorney described the ex-officer as "basically broke," though it's unclear exactly how much money he accumulated in banked sick and vacation pay during his 27 years with the police department. His lawyer argues the funds can't legally be withheld because Edwards left in good standing and was not convicted of a crime involving a "breach of public trust" — a narrowly defined term that's written into the county code involving charges of embezzlement or bribery.

"At the time of his resignation/retirement, [Edwards] had a substantial amount of accumulated annual and sick leave which should have been paid out to him," his attorney writes in a lawsuit filed January 16.

The allegations against the former sergeant came to light August 10, 2014, when the 15-year-old told his parents Edwards had made sexual advances toward him. The teen, whose mother was an acquaintance of Edwards', said he had gone to the ex-cop's home to help with yard work when Edwards offered him a cup of Wild Turkey. After the yard work, the 15-year-old said the two went inside, smoked some weed, and took molly.

According to the teen, Edwards put porn on the TV and began masturbating and caressing the teen's chest, arms, and back. Edwards then suggested the 15-year-old go upstairs to perform oral sex on him. Instead, the teen called his brother and asked for a ride home. (In a recorded call, Edwards admitted to watching porn with the teen and giving him drugs and alcohol but denied things went any further.)

While investigating, police learned the 15-year-old's older brother had also been a victim. The 16-year-old said he'd had a similar encounter with Edwards months earlier, leading police to charge him in a separate case for providing obscene material to a minor.

During the investigation, police also found multiple videos Edwards had recorded at his home of sexual encounters with young men. One, a 19-year-old, told officers the sex was consensual but said he did not know it was being recorded. (Police filed a third case charging Edwards with 12 counts of child pornography, but the charges were ultimately dropped.)

The criminal proceedings against Edwards dragged on for nearly three years until April 2017. Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges and drop the case involving the older brother if Edwards pleaded guilty to the charges involving the 15-year-old. In the end, Edwards was convicted on two counts of child abuse and six drug charges, including providing a controlled substance to a minor. He did not have to register as a sex offender.

Miami-Dade has yet to file a response to Edwards' demand for his unused sick and vacation pay. The county attorney's office did not respond to calls seeking comment.

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