Former Maroochydore State High School teacher Kenneth Ernst was jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a girl throughout the 1990s.
Former Maroochydore State High School teacher Kenneth Ernst was jailed for three years for the sexual abuse of a girl throughout the 1990s.

Former principal Kenneth Ernst jailed for child sex abuse

A REMORSELESS Kenneth Ralph Ernst was today sentenced to three years' jail for sexually assaulting a teenage girl for years throughout the 1990s.

The former Maroochydore State High School deputy principal had spent the night in custody after a jury convicted him of 11 sexual offences yesterday, committed while he was a teacher.

Ernst's victim looked into his eyes as she delivered an emotional impact statement this afternoon.

She detailed the social, emotional and mental struggles she had endured because Ernst took advantage of her as a young girl, and closed by stating:

"I never know and never will know that when I close my eyes his face won't appear again, those scars are there for life.

"I remain respectfully (name withheld), sexual abuse survivor."

Crown prosecutor Rebecca Marks told Maroochydore District Court that Ernst had groomed his victim before he acted on his sexual interest in "abhorrent, disgraceful and anti-social" acts.

Ms Mylne said Ernst violated his victim's sanctity, sense of safety and security.

"It involved an escalation from touching her vagina over her clothes, exposing his penis, touching her breasts … oral sex and digitally penetrating her vagina," she said.

Ernst was aged 31 to 36 at the time, his victim was 14 to 16. The pair were known to each other, but the victim was not a student.

Ernst remained steadfast in his denial as the victim, her family, friends and psychologist were called to testify in a four-day trial.

Defence barrister Peter Mylne told Maroochydore District Court his client was an educator of 40 years.

Ernst had taught at schools in Rockhampton and Mount Morgan in Central Queensland and was promoted to deputy principal at a Cairns high school in 1990 when he was 31.

In 1993 he was appointed Maroochydore State High School deputy principal, a position he held until charges were filed against him in 2017.

A Department of Education spokesman today confirmed Ernst had not worked at any Queensland Government state school since the charges were laid.

Mr Mylne said Ernst had been heavily involved with the charity organisation Legacy, and over the past 10 years had taken school children to collect funds in his hometown, Buderim.

He had organised Anzac Day activities at school and at the RSL, and lectured as a sessional tutor at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

"All of that professional background led to Mr Ernst being awarded the Australia Day medal for education in 2010," Mr Mylne said.

Ernst is married and father of an adult daughter.

Judge Tony Moynihan said Ernst had actions were a gross breach of trust.

"You were 18 years older than her … the victim has suffered harm and been adversely affected," he said.

"I listened very carefully to the devastating impact your conduct has had on her.

"I acknowledge her brave presence here today."

Ernst was sentenced to three years' jail and is eligible for parole after serving half.



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