Special Reports

Congress passes Crystal Judson bill to help stop abuse

They were told it could take five years or more for Congress to take notice.

But over the weekend, the family of Crystal Judson Brame celebrated a victory for abused women across the United States, her father, Lane Judson, said Sunday.

Crystal was fatally shot by her husband, Tacoma Police Chief David Brame, in 2003. Brame then took his own life.

Now, Congress has approved a bill with a provision that will allow local and state law enforcement agencies to apply for more than $200 million in federal money per fiscal year to fund domestic violence programs.

The “Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Protocol Program” aims to train local victim advocates, ensure a more consistent response to domestic violence in law enforcement agencies and provide Department of Justice oversight.

“We just were so happy,” said Lane Judson, 70, of Gig Harbor. “It was the best Christmas present you could ever get.”

Judson said his family gathered around a television Saturday to watch the House action on C-SPAN. The group included the Brames’ two children, Haley, 10, and David Jr., 8.

The children were nearby in April 2003 as their father shot their mother in a Gig Harbor parking lot, before he shot and killed himself.

The couple was in the middle of a divorce.

In court documents, Judson accused Brame of domestic violence.

“The kids watched (Saturday) and they were in awe in seeing their mama’s name being brought up on the (House) floor,” Lane Judson said. He said it reaffirms his belief that “an individual or a family in America really can make a difference.”

The Judson provision that frees up domestic violence education and awareness funds for local and state law enforcement agencies was part of the Violence Against Women Act, which Congress reauthorized over the weekend. Before the action, it was unclear if the money was available to local law enforcement agencies, said U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair).

“Law enforcement agencies should be setting an example, and there’s a serious problem nationwide,” Dicks said Sunday in a telephone interview. “Hopefully, these cities will have a program that will prevent someone from being abused.”

Shortly before his daughter died May 3, 2003, Lane Judson held her hand and promised her he would not allow another woman to be abused or killed by her partner.

Two days after her funeral, Judson and his wife, Patty, started their 21/2-year campaign to persuade state and national lawmakers to get serious about domestic violence by providing more funding for education and awareness.

They lobbied Washington’s congressional delegation, spoke and met with congressional aides, and eventually started a letter-writing campaign that targeted Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Bellevue) and Dicks.

Since September, about 8,000 people signed letters that the Judsons sent to the officials’ offices, urging them to make domestic violence a priority in Congress.

Judson said his family was “elated” and “couldn’t believe it” when an aide from Democratic Rep. Jay Inslee’s office called Friday to say the bill probably would pass during the weekend.

“We’re just so happy,” Patty Judson said. “If we can save one life, that means a lot to us. We just want to help the women out there that are being abused as we speak.”

Paul Sand: 253-597-8872