Federal administrator accused of touching employee in Oregon

BEND, Ore. -- Prosecutors in Oregon have charged the head of the Washington state office for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service after he was accused of touching and exposing himself to a female co-worker during a summer conference.

Eric Rickerson, 52, faces six counts, including coercion, third-degree sex abuse, harassment and indecency in Deschutes County Circuit Court, The Bend Bulletin reported .

Coercion is a felony in Oregon punishable by up to five years in prison. The other charges against Rickerson are misdemeanors.

Prosecutors allege that Rickerson, who lives in Olympia, Washington, touched the woman's chest and thigh without her consent and exposed himself to her on July 9 during a drunken incident in Sunriver, Oregon.

"We allege that he was trying to coerce his victim into a sexual act that she did not want to engage in," Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel told the newspaper.

Rickerson declined to comment to the newspaper when reached by phone. His lawyer, Casey Baxter, did not immediately return a message Friday from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Rickerson is the state supervisor for the federal agency's Washington state office in Lacey.

A 2015 agency news release announcing his position noted he would oversee about 115 employees and offices that manage natural resources issues through Washington.

Fish and Wildlife spokesman Gavin Shire in Virginia told the AP the federal agency has taken "appropriate administrative steps." Shire declined to elaborate on what those steps were and on Rickerson's current status, citing personnel matters.

In court Thursday in Bend, Circuit Judge Stephen Forte ordered Rickerson to have no contact with the woman. Rickerson was conditionally released.

A female Fish and Wildlife employee contacted the federal agency's inspector general to report that an incident took place when the two stayed in the same rental house in Sunriver over the summer, the newspaper reported.

The findings from that investigation were forwarded to the Deschutes County district attorney and prosecutors informed Rickerson of the charges last month.

The AP does not generally identify people who say they are victims of sex crimes.