NAPLES — His former boss knew it was just a matter of time before Shernon James would get arrested again.
So Kevin Smith, who owns a local talent agency, wasn’t shocked to hear James, who was sponsoring a Ukranian foreign exchange student, has been charged with molesting the 15-year-old boy during a visit to Kissimmee.
“I’m surprised that it has taken him this long,” Smith said Wednesday, adding that James knows all the ways to work the system to his advantage. “But eventually, he would get caught.”
James, 27, of 2818 Inlet Cove Lane W., was arrested late Monday after the student complained his host had fondled him while they slept in the same bed at the Omni Hotel at Champions Gate, according to an Osceola County Sheriff’s Office report. He was charged with felony counts of lewd and lascivious molestation and distributing obscene material to a minor.
In March 2006, James was acquitted of 10 counts of possessing child porn after a Collier Circuit jury heard testimony that four other employees of a local talent agency, which fired him, had access to his computer, not just him. Collier Sheriff’s detectives testified he admitted downloading the porn — obscene photos of young boys — but because it wasn’t a taped confession, he denied that and jurors found him not guilty. His criminal record was then expunged.
“I feel very bad for the Ukranian family. … He is sick,” Smith said of James, adding that he’d heard James volunteers as a youth coach and Big Brother.
According to his Web site, shernonjames.com, James works as a disc jockey, a computer professional, owns several businesses, and is a “big brother (to many).”
Michele Guptill, chief executive officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southwest Florida, said James was currently not a Big Brother, but had applied to volunteer. She couldn’t confirm whether he had been accepted.
James’ Web site says he owns icyhost.com, and smartguysIT.com, both computer businesses, as well as skytopevents.com. Only Sky Top Events and Productions, a party planning company, has a state business license, according to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.
James is a 2001 graduate of Carbon Career & Technical Institute in Jim Thorpe, Pa. and grew up in Pennsylvania.
The exchange student, who planned to live with James’ family this school year, told investigators James took nude pictures of him with a cell phone and showed him the photos, according to his arrest report, which says he also was shown photos of other nude men on the cell phone. The report says the teen arrived in Florida on Aug. 6. The report did not state what agency set up the exchange or what Collier County school the student will be attending.
On both nights at the hotel, the report says, the teen told deputies he and James slept in the same bed wearing only their underwear. The first night, the report says, James touched the boy inappropriately and the next night, James tried to pull the boy’s underwear down but the boy pulled away.
When deputies arrived, they discovered the nude photos on James’ cell phone. Based on that evidence and the boy’s statements, James was arrested and booked into the Osceola County jail. Records show he remained held on $25,000 bond Wednesday. If convicted of the top charge in Osceola Circuit Court, he faces a maximum of 10 years in a state prison.
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