Special Reports

Claim filed in alleged Brame rape

The woman who says David Brame raped her in 1988 - 13 years before he became Tacoma's police chief - has asked the city to pay her $2 million because officials didn't pass along her allegation to an outside agency.

Sylvia Boskovich, who alleges Brame attacked her in his home after they'd had dinner, recently filed a claim with the city, saying she learned through the aftermath of Brame killing his wife, Crystal, and himself on April 26, 2003, how her rights had been denied.

In her claim, usually the first step toward a lawsuit, Boskovich says the city and the police department conspired to obstruct justice and violated her federal right to due process and access to the courts. Boskovich's lawyer, Kevin Coluccio, said she is seeking "to hold the city and the police department accountable."

"This matter had been previously reported to the Tacoma Police Department," the Seattle attorney said. "And investigators interviewed witnesses, but the entire investigation had been done internally. The investigation should have been conducted by an outside agency."

City spokesman Scott Huntley said the city's lawyers received the claim June 29. The city has 60 days to respond. If officials deny the claim, Boskovich can sue and ask a jury to decide whether she was wronged. The law requires people filing a claim to include a dollar figure, whereas lawsuits cannot include an amount of damages.

Mayor Bill Baarsma said Friday that, because the city's legal department was reviewing the issue, "I'd like to make a comment ... but I just can't."

Boskovich, a 44-year-old Tacoma woman, says that shortly after the alleged rape, she complained to the police department and was interviewed by two investigators.

"It was her understanding," the claim reads, "that she was following the appropriate procedure and she did not realize that the police department was only conducting an internal investigation - an internal investigation which never made it to the desks of any Pierce County prosecutors, or outside law enforcements, despite the fact that a city police officer, David Brame, had been accused of a felony."

Boskovich met with investigators three times, and one of the meetings was tape-recorded. She told investigators Brame had confessed in front of another police officer, Reggie Roberts. Roberts was interviewed by investigators.

Months later, Boskovich - then-known as Sylvia Swartsel - got a letter from Chief Ray Fjetland, saying the Internal Affairs staff had completed its investigation and "the complaint is not sustained."

"Officer Brame admitted the sexual contact with you, but denied using force or coercion," the letter stated. "The investigation in this case has been extremely thorough."

Boskovich says she had no way of knowing how the city and its employees had handled her allegation until the facts came out after the Brame shootings. For instance, she said she learned the department kept the investigation internal even though investigators believed Brame raped her.

As a result of the city's actions, Boskovich suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, and has paid $8,800 for treatment, she alleges.

"Whenever you're involved in a rape it always stays with you," Coluccio said. "In this case, she's had to bear the additional burden of the city's failure to handle this properly."

The Washington State Patrol investigated the police department after the Brame shootings and said the alleged rape was one of several instances where members of the department didn't treat possible criminal violations as such.

Pierce County sheriff's officials have said they should have been able to investigate the incident as a potential criminal matter because the attack was alleged to have taken place in unincorporated Pierce County. But they never heard about it until it broke in the news, sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Pierce County's chief criminal deputy prosecutor, Jerry Costello, said the allegation should have been sent to prosecutors if there were sufficient evidence or suspicion of a crime.

Crystal Brame's family has sued the city and others, claiming Brame was unreasonably given power and then ignored until he killed his wife.

Boskovich, who worked in Pierce County juvenile court, told The News Tribune last year that she had gone to dinner with Brame in 1988 and that when they got back to his Spanaway home, he'd forced her onto his bed and made her look at a gun on the nightstand while he raped her.

The News Tribune generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assaults, unless they inject themselves into a public process by filing a claim or a lawsuit against a public entity.

Staff writer Sean Robinson contributed to this report.

Karen Hucks: 253-597-8660