HILO, Hawaii – A state law enforcement officer was found guilty of rape on Wednesday, following a jury trial in Hilo.
40-year-old Ethan Ferguson was arrested in January and charged with five counts of sexual assault for an incident that occurred on New Years Day in Keaukaha.
A female minor reported Ferguson, a state Department of Land and Natural Resources officer with the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, approached her while in uniform and sexually assaulted her. The case went to trial.
On Wednesday, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney Mitch Roth said Ferguson was found guilty as charged on two counts of second-degree sexual assault and three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. Roth praised the victim in the case for having the courage to testify in the trial. He also appreciated the jury coming to its decision, in just a couple of hours of deliberation.
Big Island Video News interviewed Roth and Michelle West, the sexual assault unit supervisor, at the prosecutor’s office Wednesday.
The Department of Land and Natural Resources issued a media release on the conviction the same day. DLNR officials said they have 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,” the release stated.
Before he was hired as a DOCARE officer, Ferguson was a Honolulu Police Department officer for almost 12 years. Media reported he was fired for misconduct. Media also reported Ferguson’s mother, Jackie Ferguson-Miyamoto, is president of Hawaii Government Employees’ Association union. HGEA represents DOCARE officers.
“Several news organizations have asked about Ferguson’s mother in connection with this matter,” DLNR wrote in the Wednesday statement. “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,” the DLNR stated. “This includes extensive background and reference checks, additional evaluation and training for both officers and supervisors, and closer monitoring by supervisors.”
Hilo Circuit Judge Greg Nakamura will sentence Ferguson on April 24.