The estranged daughter of charismatic sea-captain Sig Hansen has sued The Deadliest Catch star, alleging that he sexually abused her as a toddler.
Melissa Eckstrom, a 28-year-old attorney who lives in the Seattle area, accuses Hansen of molesting her as a 2-year-old in 1990 following an acrimonious divorce between her mother, Lisa Eckstrom, and the fisherman. In a lawsuit filed last year, Melissa Eckstrom contends that she suffered eating disorders, battled depression and wrestled with suicidal thoughts throughout her childhood.
Eckstrom recently made the decision to reveal the identities in the case because of what she cited as increased hostility from Hansen and his attorneys, according to a detailed report via the Seattle Times.
“This is nothing more than an old-fashioned shakedown. It’s a completely frivolous lawsuit full of lies that my ex-wife made up to take away my daughter, and still uses to try to extort money from me. It’s blackmail.”
The suit alleges that Lisa Eckstrom and other relatives became aware of abuse in 1990. Doctors examined Melissa Eckstrom in July of 1990 causing Dr. Mary Gibbons, who was at the time the director of a sexual assault clinic, to conclude that there were, “several significant medical findings, which when viewed in combination, are strongly suggestive of sexual abuse.”
This was followed by a number of visits to a therapist during which Melissa Eckstrom stated that her father “hurts my potty pot.”
Hansen was arrested in 1990 but was not prosecuted because it was deemed that there would have been “insufficient evidence” to convict.
Melissa Eckstrom’s suit includes a letter penned by Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern in August of 1990 that reads, “This is not to suggest we do not believe the allegations. To the contrary, the information at hand suggests that Mr. Hansen has acted in a sexually inappropriate manner toward Melissa.”
A court-appointed psychiatrist in the 1990 divorce case concluded that sexual abuse was unlikely and that Melissa Eckstrom’s claims were due to “parent alienation syndrome,” a theory that has come under heavy criticism in recent years which posits that faulty allegations can emerge when a child is subjected to constant denigration of an estranged parent by a custodial parent.
A guardian ad litem in the 1990 case also wasn’t convinced of abuse adding that if it were to have happened that, “I am of the opinion that Sig Hansen was not the perpetrator.”
The judge eventually ruled that Hansen did not abuse Melissa Eckstrom.
Hansen explained in a recent interview that he eventually decided to relinquish his parental rights because of the toxic nature of his relationship with his ex-wife. “It was probably the hardest thing I’ve done in my life,” he explained with tears running down his face.
According to Melissa Eckstrom’s lawyers, an agreement was nearly reached last year in which Hansen would have paid $1.5 million to his estranged daughter. It fell through when Hansen demanded that Eckstrom lose her license to practice law if news of the settlement leaked to the public.
Melissa Eckstrom told the Seattle Times that “justice” and “accountability for what my father did to me” were her motivations behind the suit.