Former lawman gets 30 days on work crew for assault of stepson (with video)

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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A former Clackamas County, Ore., sheriff’s sergeant was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days on a work crew for injuring his adult stepson in a May altercation.

Steven P. Hyson, 47, of Vancouver pleaded guilty March 27 in Clark County Superior Court to fourth-degree assault of his stepson and felony domestic violence harassment of his wife. He resigned from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office on the same day, said spokesman Sgt. Adam Phillips.

Judge John Nichols ordered Hyson to participate in Clark County’s domestic violence perpetrator program and to submit to any treatment recommended in the program. He also prohibited Hyson from contacting his wife, Lora Hyson, for five years. Steven Hyson is required to serve just 23 days on the work crew because he received credit for seven days spent in jail.

Steven Hyson originally was charged with second-degree assault and fourth-degree assault, but the charges were reduced in exchange for his guilty plea. As part of the plea deal, he also pleaded guilty Tuesday in Clark County District Court to two counts of violating a domestic violence no-contact order.

The punishment is “mostly symbolic,” Nichols said. But, he said, Steven Hyson faces other consequences of his actions, including loss of his job and a criminal record that would likely result in a severe prison sentence if he commits another crime.

Lora Hyson and the stepson, Austin Oliver-Brown, now 23, complained in written statements that 30 days on work crew were an insufficient punishment for the crimes.

“I believe he needs to be locked away for more than a few days,” wrote Oliver-Brown in a letter to the judge.

However, Deputy Prosecutor Jennifer Nugent said she felt the sentence was fair given that the victims and the defendant gave conflicting accounts of what happened during the May 1 altercation that resulted in Steven Hyson’s arrest.

Oliver-Brown sustained a fractured cheekbone after Steven Hyson slammed his head into a wall, but Hyson also had injuries from the altercation, Nugent said.

She said Steven Hyson might have had a viable self-defense argument.

The former sheriff’s sergeant apologized for his actions and for the embarrassment he’d caused the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, an agency he said he loved working for.

Oliver-Brown said the altercation happened after he questioned Hyson about why he allowed his 12-year-old son to yell at Lora Hyson.

Lora Hyson called 911, and Oliver-Brown was treated at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center for a broken cheekbone. Hyson turned himself in to Clark County sheriff’s deputies May 3. He was released after he posted $30,000 bail.

Hyson was arrested again March 21 and jailed without bail after he violated a no-contact order the day before and confronted his wife over information she disclosed during an interview with his attorney, Thomas Phelan, in preparation for Steven Hyson’s trial, which had been set for next Monday. Lora Hyson said she was forced to return in November to the family home in the Sifton neighborhood after she was evicted from her apartment, according to court records. The documents indicate she couldn’t pay the rent because her husband had failed to make spousal support payments.

Steven Hyson had been on leave from the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office since his first arrest in May. His leave was converted to unpaid leave in September and continued until his resignation March 27.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts;http://facebook.com/ColTrends;paris.achen@columbian.com.

View a video of Steven Hyson's sentencing on The Columbian's YouTube Channel.