NORFOLK — Leonard Austin says living next to a Norfolk police officer used to make him feel safe.
That safe feeling vanished on Tuesday when Austin found out that his neighbor, a veteran detective assigned to the Vice Narcotics Division, was charged with a felony crime involving a minor.
Austin, a father of two, lives on Fresh Meadow Road, a few houses away from Roy Clyde Sharp III, a 40-year-old corporal who has worked for the Norfolk Police Department for 16 years.
On April 5, Sharp was indicted by a grand jury and charged with the unlawful creation of a video or picture of a minor.
Sharp is accused of taking the video or picture on Nov. 21 while the minor was “totally nude, clad in undergarments or in a state of undress,” according to documents filed in Norfolk Circuit Court.
The minor was “in a restroom or other location, when the person being recorded would have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” documents state.
Police say the incident happened on the 400 block of Fresh Meadow Road, which is the same block that Sharp lived on.
Sharp turned himself in to the NPD on April 6. Hours later he paid a $2,500 bail and was let go. He is currently on administrative leave.
By Monday, Sharp, his wife and their three children appeared to have moved out of the Fresh Meadow Road home. A “For Rent” sign was placed in the front yard about three weeks before the move and is still there, Austin said.
Austin and other neighbors didn’t find out about the charges against Sharp until Tuesday.
The news infuriated Austin, who said that his 11-year-old daughter was friends with one of Sharp’s stepdaughters and was over at the police officer’s house on Sunday, four days after he was indicted.
Austin believes Sharp was home at the time.
“It’s scary,” Austin said. “The dude’s a cop. You’re supposed to be able to trust him 100 percent.”
Sharp moved into the neighborhood about three years ago. He and his wife have a newborn child together, and he is the stepfather to two girls, ages 11 and 17, Austin said.
Austin’s daughter played at Sharp’s house with his youngest stepdaughter frequently. The pair kicked soccer balls and hit softballs, and Austin’s daughter went out for ice cream with the Sharp family on occasion.
Although the adults in the Austin family didn’t spend a lot of time with the Sharps, they were friendly neighbors and went trick-or-treating together.
Austin said he’s spoken to his daughter and doesn’t worry that she was the victim of any alleged crime; however, he cringes at memories of her playing on a Slip ‘N Slide in Sharp’s yard and worries about her having used the bathroom in the police officer’s home.
“He never said anything to her,” Austin said.
Austin described Sharp as a “happy dude,” adding that the police officer was the go-to guy for happenings around the neighborhood.
“He was a cop. Somebody I could rely on,” Austin said.
Austin said he doesn’t know Sharp’s wife very well, but that she’s been living in the neighborhood longer than the police officer has and that she works for the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.
Sharp is scheduled to appear in court on April 19. Williamburg Commonwealth’s Attorney Nate Green will act as a special prosecutor in the case because someone in the Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office may be called to testify as a witness, according to NCA spokeswoman Amanda Howie.
Howie declined to confirm who that person is.
Mayfield can be reached at email@example.com.