A Boulder County deputy sheriff, Rick Ferguson, was arrested this morning on charges involving online sexual exploitation of underage females, the sheriff’s office announced today.
The alleged charges center on obscenity in terms of inappropriate language or pictures, says Scot Williams, a commander at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office.
Ferguson has been a member of the sheriff’s office for 30 years, and has had no previous instances of misconduct, Williams says.
A cyber-security monitoring team noticed unusual online chats on Ferguson’s computer during a routine computer check, Williams says. According to a news release, the investigation of Ferguson began on Nov. 17, when Boulder County information technology employees notified the sheriff’s office of the activity.
“We do a lot of stuff with the computers, and if they see something that is unusual, they’ll take a look at it,” Williams says. “If it looks like it’s not related to an investigation or work-related, then they would notify us, and that was the case in this instance.”
Ferguson’s sexual interactions lasted about six months, Williams says. A search warrant for his home computer was issued as well.
The investigation, conducted by members of the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office and Boulder County District Attorney’s Office, determined that there was probable cause to arrest Ferguson, according to the release.
“We told him there was a warrant for his arrest, and he agreed to turn himself in,” Williams says.
Ferguson — who Williams says has a wife and children — turned himself in at the Boulder County Jail on one count of Internet sexual exploitation of a child, a class four felony; two counts of Internet luring of a child, a class five felony; one count of obscenity, a class 6 felony; and one count of second-degree official misconduct, a class one petty offense.
“It is sad and demoralizing when we have to arrest one of our own deputies,” Sheriff Joe Pelle said in the release. “Fortunately, it is also a rare occasion. Deputy Ferguson has been a loyal and long-term employee at the sheriff’s office. We were shocked to learn what was occurring, but also quick and decisive to investigate and seek prosecution. We are a ‘Character First’ organization, and the alleged actions of this deputy have violated our core values and the public trust. They do not represent the values of the almost 400 employees at the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office. I am confident that accountability and openness in the handling of this matter will ensure the continued public trust and support of this office.”
Ferguson has been placed on administrative leave pending the conclusion of the investigation. Bond has been set at $100,000.
Blair Madole contributed to this report.