Knoxville — A former Knoxville Police Department officer who admitted sexually battering a woman caught a judicial break Wednesday.
Tyler Hughett sought and is getting judicial diversion. He'll spend a year on probation and can have his case dismissed and wiped off his record if he follows the terms of probation.
Knox County Criminal Court Judge Bob McGee agreed in a hearing Wednesday to grant diversion for Hughett. It's rare for a judge to put a defendant on diversion, reserved in Tennessee for first-time offenders with a clean record and good character.
Hughett was a married officer with more than 10 years' experience who last year pleaded guilty to inappropriately touching the woman while on a call. He also pleaded guilty to official oppression.
Hughett is no longer a KPD officer and was stripped of his state officer certification in April 2018, records show.
Defense attorney Josh Hedrick sought judicial diversion on his client's behalf, arguing that while he was with the department Hughett received frequent praise from the public and peers.
"He has been a positive force in the community for which he is responsible," Hedrick said.
The lawyer said Hughett was "a good officer. And he's lost that."
Prosecutor Ashley McDermott argued a pre-sentence, psycho-sexual evaluation found Hughett had low empathy for others and showed a low level of accountability for his behavior.
The psycho-sexual report also found some signs of an interest in children, although he has no such record and there's no evidence of such behavior, Wednesday's hearing showed.
McGee said Hughett appeared to be a good candidate for judicial diversion.
"What he did was terribly, terribly wrong," McGee said.
The judge said the psycho-sexual report concluded he was unlikely to commit a similar crime.
As part of his probation, Hughett must undergo treatment.
McGee said if Hughett fails to follow the terms of probation, prosecutors can seek to strip him of diversion.