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Sunday, March 24, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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‘Deadliest Catch’ star Sig Hansen pleads guilty to assault charge

Sig Hansen plead guilty Wednesday to assault stemming from his confrontation with an Uber driver last year. He appeared in court with lawyer Andrew Huff, left. (Steve Ringman / Seattle Times)
Sig Hansen plead guilty Wednesday to assault stemming from his confrontation with an Uber driver last year. He appeared in court with lawyer Andrew Huff, left. (Steve Ringman / Seattle Times)
By Lewis Kamb Seattle Times

Celebrity fishing-boat captain Sig Hansen pleaded guilty Wednesday to a misdemeanor charge that he assaulted an Uber driver last year under a recommended arrangement with prosecutors that could allow him to avoid jail time.

Seattle Municipal Court Judge Edward McKenna postponed sentencing after raising concerns that an alcohol evaluation that showed Hansen had no significant problem wasn’t credible. He ordered Hansen to undergo another evaluation.

Under the recommended plea agreement, Hansen pleaded gulity to the assault and had a separate property-descruction charge dismissed. Had the judge accepted the prosecutor’s recommendation, Hansen would have his assault conviction dropped with the case dismissed so long as he stays out of trouble and complies with court conditions for a year.

But McKenna wasn’t ready to agree with that recommendation Wednesday. He postponed sentencing until June 28, ordering the new evaluation and more details from city prosecutors about a 2008 disorderly conduct charge against Hansen in Alaska.

Hansen and his wife left the courtroom without commenting to journalists.

Hansen, 52, has gained fame as the hard-charging Norwegian American skipper of the Seattle-based fishing boat, the Northwestern, on the cable TV series “The Deadliest Catch.”

He had been celebrating Syttende Mai — Norway’s Constitution Day — in Ballard with his family a year ago before his encounter with Uber driverWaheed Lawal. According to a Seattle police, Hansen became angry after Lawal informed him he couldn’t pay for a ride with cash and stopped to let him and his family out of the car.

Hansen and his son-in-law, Clark Pederson, allegedly spat on Lawal’s head and the back of Lawal’s seat, then Hansen got out of the car and kicked and dented it, police reported.

Officers arrested an intoxicated and combative Hansen a short time later at his Shoreline home during an encounter caught on police video. He was booked into jail and charged with misdemeanor assault and property-destruction charges, and later publicly apologized.

A misdemeanor assault charge against Pederson, a crew member on Hansen’s boat, later was amended to harassment, court records show. Earlier this year, he similarly agreed to deferred prosecution with community service and fines.

Hansen also faces other potential legal troubles. A ruling from the state Court of Appeals is pending on arguments over whether a sexual-abuse lawsuit brought by his estranged daughter, Melissa Eckstrom, can proceed to trial. Eckstrom claims her father sexually abused her as a toddler, while her parents were divorcing about three decades ago.

Hansen has vehemently denied the claims as false, calling Eckstrom’s suit “an old-fashioned shakedown.”

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