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A former Warminster police officer was sentenced to decades in state prison for abusing five teens

A Bucks County judge told James Carey that he had wielded his badge and uniform as a weapon, using them to rape and sexually abuse five teenage boys he befriended as a police officer.

James Carey was sentenced to decades in state prison on Tuesday for abusing five boys he befriended while working as a Warminster Township Police Officer.
James Carey was sentenced to decades in state prison on Tuesday for abusing five boys he befriended while working as a Warminster Township Police Officer.Read moreJOSE F. MORENO / Staff Photographer

James Carey eluded justice for nearly four decades. It finally caught up with him Tuesday, inside a courtroom in Doylestown.

It came in the form of five men, who tore open old wounds to explain how the former Warminster police officer’s rape and sexual abuse had stunted them as children and warped their adult lives. And after about two hours of testimony, Carey was led away in handcuffs to begin serving the 24½-to-55-year sentence handed down by Bucks County Judge Wallace H. Bateman.

“You were supposed to be taking care of them,” Bateman said. “You were supposed to be protecting them from monsters such as yourself. Instead, your badge and uniform became weapons of your depravity.”

Carey, 54, was arrested in 2021 and charged with several dozen counts of involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, statutory rape, corruption of minors, and related offenses after one of the victims came forward, decades later, to report the abuse.

Between 1988 and 2000, while serving as a resource officer with the D.A.R.E. antidrug program in the Centennial School District, Carey groped and forced five boys to perform sex acts, prosecutors said.

Some of the boys met Carey through his volunteer work at a neighborhood rec center, and told prosecutors he would make excuses to isolate them, sometimes under threat of arresting them for minor drug offenses. He acted as a father figure, they said, and seemed to target boys who came from broken homes or had troubled upbringings.

They each testified Tuesday about the impact Carey’s abuse has had. The men described cycles of self-destructive behavior, broken marriages, and drug abuse that have plagued them since Carey preyed on them.

“We all have one shot on this Earth,” one victim said. “Mine was squandered by his sick, twisted sexual addiction.”

Another victim said he spent his entire childhood feeling like a coward, and grew to hate his adult life.

Carey entered a no-contest plea in October — not admitting guilt, but not disputing the facts of the case — but abruptly attempted to withdraw the plea months later. Bateman denied his request.

» READ MORE: A former Warminster cop’s attempt to withdraw his plea in a sex-assault case was denied

On Tuesday, Carey declined to make a statement. He appeared visibly uncomfortable during the proceeding, declining to look at each of the victims as they addressed Bateman, a fact the judge noted in his remarks during sentencing.

Carey’s attorney, Craig Penglase, asked Bateman for leniency, and in court filings mentioned Carey’s decades of public service, as well as abuse Carey had allegedly received in jail from other inmates.

“Cases like this are especially difficult for the entire community, because the defendant was a police officer,” Penglase said.

But First Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Schorn said Carey’s service record represents “a much darker side of what we now know.”

“It doesn’t get much worse: When someone in a position of trust does what he did, it shakes the community to its core,” Schorn said.

The first victim who came forward said Carey, whom he knew through the D.A.R.E. program, followed him into the rec center bathroom in 1989 and told him he needed to search him after finding a bag of marijuana, according to the affidavit of probable cause filed for his arrest. During an invasive pat-down, he said, Carey groped him and forced him to perform a sex act.

That assault was followed by several others, including one at the boy’s home when his parents were away, according to Schorn. As an adult, the victim told investigators he was afraid to tell anyone about the assaults because he didn’t want people to think he was gay and because he feared being arrested by Carey for the marijuana.

“He was a wolf in sheepdog’s clothing,” Schorn said. “He was the predator waiting to pounce.”

» READ MORE: ‘A wolf in sheep’s clothing’: For years, a Warminster police officer sexually assaulted troubled teens, DA says

Another victim was abused by Carey after getting sentenced to community service. Carey, as a police officer, volunteered to supervise the then-teen’s service, and would force him to perform sex acts before signing off on the court paperwork, according to Schorn.

Carey was fired from the department in 2005 for mishandling a case but won his job back through arbitration. He retired in 2009 and moved to the Jersey Shore.

Police investigated reports of predatory behavior by Carey in 2001 and 2006, but no charges were filed. The accusers told prosecutors they had been reluctant to talk about the abuse out of fear and shame.

Schorn, in her comments Tuesday, stressed her doubts that Carey could ever be rehabilitated. When investigators seized his cell phone in 2020, they discovered “countless images of child erotica.”