Potential Spencer fallout, breakdown of costs

I’ve had a few people ask me today what I think is driving the county commissioners’ unanimous decision to not pay the $9 million verdict in the Clyde Ray Spencer case. Commissioners say Detective Sharon Krause was acting outside the scope of her official duties as an employee of the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. (In short, “Hey, we didn’t tell her to lie!”)

Jurors heard, of course, that Krause was acting in her capacity as a CCSO detective. Former Prosecutor Art Curtis and former Superior Court Judge Tom Lodge testified they relied on Krause, in her capacity as a trained county detective, when prosecuting and sentencing Spencer.

But the commissioners see this case as different from the wrongful rape convictions that resulted in a settlement. In that multimillion-dollar case, the county rushed to settle when former deputy Don Slagle was on the witness stand in federal court. As The Columbian reported in a 2005 series, “Policing Force,” Slagle┬áhad been disciplined 16 times and the subject of more than three dozen internal affairs investigations. Krause and her supervisor at the time, Sgt. Mike Davidson, don’t have that type of baggage.

But it still didn’t look good to the jury. Davidson, whether you believe him or not that he waited until after Spencer was sent to prison and divorced to sleep with Spencer’s wife, was seen visiting (harassing?) Spencer in the county jail, the jury heard. Jurors also heard from a county employee, who is a notary, who said it wasn’t her signature on a quitclaim deed that allowed Spencer’s wife to sell the Spencer home while Clyde was in jail. The notary testified her stamp had been stolen from her desk; Clyde said his signature was forged.

Back to the commissioners’ balking at paying the judgment. What do you think happens next, now that Krause has been found by a jury to have fabricated reports? She was a lead detective in child sex crimes for years. Curtis testified that he was amazed at the volume of reports Krause produced.

As Spencer’s attorney told jurors during closing arguments, it’s easy to produce when you’re making it up.

Prosecutor Tony Golik said his staff will be reviewing cases to see if there are any similar to Spencer’s, when the defendant was convicted on the basis of Krause’s reports. All of this happened when the county wasn’t covered by insurance. How much money could the county potentially end up losing over Krause?

So yes, I can see why commissioners voted to not pay the verdict and now, after spending nearly $500,000 on the Spencer civil case, are trying to distance themselves from Krause. Even if, as Spencer’s attorney put it, they are acting in bad faith.

For the record, here’s the list of expenses the county provided in response to a public disclosure request about how much the county spent defending Krause (her attorney was Guy Bogdanovich) and Davidson (represented by Jeffrey Freimund) and associated costs.

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Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at stephanie.rice@columbian.com or 360-735-4508.

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