A state law enforcement officer was convicted of sexually assaulting a teenager on Hawaii Island.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, a jury found Ethan Ferguson guilty on five counts: two counts of second-degree sex assault, and three counts of fourth-degree sex assault.
Prosecutors say Ferguson, a law enforcement officer with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, was on duty and in uniform when he caught the 16-year-old smoking marijuana at Lalakea Beach Park on Jan. 1, 2016.
He told her he would not turn her in if she gave him money, drugs or sex. Prosecutors say he took her to a secluded area of the beach and sexually assaulted her.
“The state is pleased with the jury verdict. Clearly they found his testimony not credible and they found the victim’s testimony credible,” said deputy prosecutor Haaheo Kahoohalahala. “The state is happy because of the victim’s willingness to come forward and testify and go through this process, that the community will be safer because of it.”
Prior to working for the state, Ferguson was fired from the Honolulu Police Department after 12 years as an officer.
Throughout court proceedings, Ferguson was still employed by the state but put on administrative leave with pay. DLNR sent us the following statement following his conviction:
The Department of Land and Natural Resources has not received the record of conviction for Ethan Ferguson. At such time this record is received and reviewed, a decision will be made on Mr. Ferguson’s job status.
Several news organizations have asked about Ferguson’s mother in connection with this matter. Hawaii Government Employees Association President Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, had nothing to do with his hiring as a Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) officer and we have no record of her being listed as a reference.
DOCARE has implemented changes to its vetting process for all new hires. This includes extensive background and reference checks, additional evaluation and training for both officers and supervisors, and closer monitoring by supervisors.
We received word from the state on March 6, nearly two weeks later, that Ferguson was fired.