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Trial begins for former sheriff's deputy charged with three counts of rape

Register-Guard - 6/12/2019

The trial is underway for a former Lane County Sheriff's deputy accused of raping and sexually abusing three women.

The trial began Tuesday in Lane County Circuit Court. Matthew Alison Hitson, 40, was charged with three counts of first-degree rape, first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, unlawful delivery of marijuana to a minor and two counts of furnishing alcohol to a person younger than 21.

First-degree rape and unlawful sexual penetration are both Measure 11 offenses that carry mandatory minimum sentences of eight years, four months; first-degree sexual abuse is a Measure 11 offense and carries a mandatory minimum sentence of six years, three months.

Hitson was a sheriff's department employee assigned to the jail when Springfield police first arrested him March 23, 2018, after an 18-year-old woman reported that he had raped her four days earlier. Hitson was subsequently charged with first-degree rape, unlawful delivery of marijuana and furnishing alcohol to a minor.A few weeks later, Hitson was charged with additional allegations stemming from a 2013 incident involving a second woman. Those charges include felony counts of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration.A superseding indictment filed in May 2018 included all of the previously charged crimes and additionally accused Hitson of raping and illegally providing alcohol to a different 18-year-old woman on March 10, 2018 -- nine days before the alleged incident that led to his original arrest.

On Monday, one day before the trial was scheduled to begin, Hitson's attorneys filed a motion in limine, asking to exclude the word "victim" from being used in court in front of the jury, which was granted Tuesday.

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