Tuesday, May 17, 2022|
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By JOHN BURNETT
A state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement officer accused of a New Year’s Day sexual assault on a 16-year-old girl at a Hilo beach was granted a postponement of his trial.
On Monday, Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura ordered Ethan Ferguson to appear for trial at 9 a.m. Sept. 12. Jury selection in Ferguson’s case was originally scheduled to start Monday.
Ferguson, 39, is accused of two counts of second-degree sex assault and three counts of fourth-degree sex assault for the alleged assault at Lalakea Beach Park in the Keaukaha area.
According to court documents, the girl told police Ferguson — who was in uniform and on duty at the time of the alleged incident — extorted her after catching her smoking marijuana on the beach. She said Ferguson told her he wouldn’t arrest her if she gave him money, drugs or sex.
The girl told officers after she refused, Ferguson forced sexual acts on her, documents state.
Ferguson, a former Honolulu Police Department officer, was fired by the state’s largest law enforcement agency before his 2013 hiring as a DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officer.
Pursuant to its own rules, HPD shredded Ferguson’s disciplinary files 30 months after the investigation that brought about his dismissal was initiated, but according to an annual misconduct report to the state Legislature, he ran afoul of the department for falsifying documents and lying to supervisors about transporting a runaway juvenile girl.
The state acknowledges it knew Ferguson was fired but wasn’t given a reason for his termination and a background check on him turned up no criminal convictions.
HPD, however, says it told the state it shouldn’t hire Ferguson.
DLNR stripped Ferguson of his police powers and put him on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of the felony criminal case.
Ferguson, who faces a possible 20 year-sentence, is free on $13,000 bail.
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