A former police officer who admitted sending inappropriate texts to a 13-year-old girl and was twice acquitted of sexual violation charges has failed in his bid to become a lawyer.
Ethan James Brown, 27, was found not guilty of sexual violation accusations against two women in 2012.
After the verdicts, police launched an employment investigation into Brown, who later resigned. He then went on to study criminal law.
Last week, before Justice Edwin Wylie in the High Court at Auckland, the New Zealand Law Society (NZLS), which declined Brown a certificate of character, accused the former constable of misleading it over the police investigation and text messages he sent to a young girl in November 2012.
Brown, who has been employed by the Public Defence Service (PDS) since January 2017, denied the allegation of misleading the society as he sought admission as a barrister.
Today, Justice Wylie released his decision - he declined Brown's application.
"Mr Brown has not satisfied me that he is a fit and proper person to be admitted as a barrister and solicitor of this court," Justice Wylie said.
"Had Mr Brown been more open in his disclosures to his employer, the police and the society, I would have been prepared to accept that his character has reformed and that he has put the frailties of his past behind him.
"However, I am not persuaded that Mr Brown has been as candid as he should have been in his disclosures, or that even yet he fully appreciates how inappropriate his conduct was in 2010."
Brown's criminal charges stemmed from an alleged incident with a 20-year-old woman in late January 2010.
The woman said Brown held her down and sexually violated her at her home. Brown said the incident never occurred.
A month before he was acquitted of that charge he was also found not guilty of one charge of sexual violation, attempted sexual violation and two counts of indecent assault against an 18-year-old woman he met on Facebook.
Brown again said the incident never happened.
"In my judgment, Mr Brown has sought to minimise the events of 2010," Justice Wylie said in his written decision today.
"There is reason to doubt whether he has fully reformed and whether his earlier frailties in his dealings with young women are yet spent."
The court heard last week that there have been 13 female complainants making allegations against Brown.
Brown had sent an email to the NZLS last year about his application for admission, to which the NZLS said it first needed to know of the findings of the police's disciplinary matter.
Brown replied to the NZLS: "I did not have any disciplinary matter with my former employer and I was not disciplined."
He told the court he was subject to an employment investigation but not a disciplinary matter and resigned from the police before any disciplinary action was taken.
Brown also failed to disclose to the NZLS the truth about a series of texts to a 13-year-old girl.
He admitted exchanging messages with the teen but told the NZLS he thought she was older than 16 at the time.
However, Brown accepted during the court hearing that he "must have known after reading those text messages" that the woman was under 16, whom he had also met in an Auckland mall.
In the texts, Brown asked the teen for her name and age.
"I'm 13 'till March, with a little sad face symbol," the teen replied to Brown's request.
"Sweet, all good eh – how was your day anyway?" Brown texted back.
"Haha it was pretty boring, my Nan dragged me around the mall," said the teen.
In an affidavit, Brown also claimed: "It's hard to remember exactly what was in my mind at the time, I thought she was over 16 at the time because she told me ... She looked over 13 when I met her at the mall."
Brown explained several times to the court that he was "disgusted" in himself but denied he was promoting a sexual relationship with the teen.
Counsel for the NZLS Paul Collins suggested the texts were "essentially a sexual grooming encounter".
Further details in the messages were suppressed.
A second series of texts to another young woman occurred while Brown was on duty as a police officer, but he denied the claim he had taken the woman back to his house and had a sexual interaction.
"I know how serious things are and how serious things were," he said.
"I'm ashamed of the whole lot ... I'm not a predator."