Judge tosses suit on alleged rape by Brame
SEAN ROBINSON; The News Tribune
Sylvia Boskovich, the Gig Harbor woman who said in 1988 that she was raped by then-Tacoma police officer David Brame, lost her lawsuit last week.
U.S. District Court Judge Franklin D. Burgess dismissed Boskovich’s claim against the City of Tacoma, ruling that she could have sought legal remedies at the time of the incident, but did not.
“(I)n late 1988, Boskovich had all the information she needed to pursue a claim despite the fact that Internal Investigations was taking no action against Brame as an employee,” Burgess wrote. “Boskovich had the assistance of a Pierce County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, but in any event could have taken action on her own to bring a complaint, and none of the City’s actions prevented her from doing so.”
Kevin Coluccio, Boskovich’s attorney, said his client plans to appeal.
“We are certainly disappointed with the court’s ruling, but believe on closer examination the court of appeals will reverse the ruling,” he said.
Boskovich’s case evens the city’s tally in legal actions linked to the David Brame scandal – a series of investigations, administrative shakeups and damage claims stemming from April 26, 2003, when police chief Brame fatally shot his wife, Crystal, and himself.
Shortly after the shootings, Boskovich came forward and told a long-suppressed story: a 1987 date that turned ugly after Brame invited her to his Spanaway home. Brame raped her that evening, Boskovich said, leaving his police-issued gun on a bedside table where she could see it as he assaulted her.
According to Boskovich and Tacoma Police officer Reggie Roberts, Brame later admitted his actions in their presence.
“You raped me,” Boskovich recalled telling Brame. She testified to his reply during a deposition in her lawsuit.
“I know and I’m sorry,” she recalled Brame saying.
In 1988, Boskovich brought a complaint against Brame to the Tacoma Police Department. Detectives from the department’s Internal Affairs unit investigated. Then-police chief Ray Fjetland ruled the complaint “not sustained,” meaning investigators lacked evidence to prove or disprove Boskovich’s allegation.
Following the 2003 shootings, Boskovich learned that the detectives who investigated her claim believed her account, but did not report their views to Fjetland. She also learned that the complaint was not forwarded to an independent police agency as a possible crime. Those factors led her to file suit, seeking unspecified damages from the city.
Court records show the city’s attorneys built their case around the passage of time, arguing that Boskovich missed her opportunity to seek legal relief. Boskovich’s attorneys argued that the statute of limitations should not apply, since she only learned crucial details of the internal investigation after the 2003 shootings.
In her deposition, Boskovich admitted talking about the rape incident with Walt DePuy, a Pierce County prosecutor who has since died. At the time of the 1988 internal investigation, DePuy told Boskovich her that county prosecutors could pursue the case against Brame.
“I was unwilling to go through being questioned like I’d already been questioned by the police department and not being believed,” Boskovich testified. “I thought that they had already investigated it as a crime and I didn’t know.”
For Judge Burgess, that admission appeared to settle the argument.
“Boskovich’s testimony is sufficient to demonstrate that she had all the information that she needed to proceed with a cause of action against Brame,” he ruled March 8.
other suits sparked by Brame case
The David Brame scandal has spawned five lawsuits. In addition to the Boskovich case, they are:
• The largest, a wrongful-death claim, came from the family of Crystal Judson Brame. The city and the Judson family settled the case in September 2005 for $12 million.
• A separate damage claim came from former police detective Mary Herrman, who said Brame sexually harassed her and attempted to lure her into a sexual threesome with his wife in early 2003. Herrman’s case never reached the lawsuit stage, but the city settled her claim for $750,000 in May 2005.
• A third lawsuit, filed by the late Phil Knudsen, the city’s former Human Resources director, claimed wrongful termination. Knudsen said he was fired for speaking out about the city’s favorable treatment of Brame, among other allegations. Judge Burgess, also presiding in Knudsen’s case, dismissed the suit in December.
• A fifth lawsuit remains active. Ray Roberts, retired assistant police chief, claims he was forced into early retirement in 2002 when Brame took steps to demote him, forcing a drop in pay and a reduction in pension benefits. That case, filed in Pierce County Superior Court, is scheduled for trial in October of this year.
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486