Activist sues Kitsap County for defamation

A long-standing relationship between a Kitsap County department and a community activist has turned sour.

Bremerton resident Robert Boddie is now suing the Kitsap County juvenile department and eight county employees for $350,000 in damages for a litany of complaints including defamation, emotional distress, lost wages and breach of contract.

“His reputation has been trashed because of the negligence of the county,” said Michael Nkosi, Boddie’s attorney in the civil suit.

“I want to get this all cleared up,” said Boddie, who also operates a non-profit agency called People Organizing Working for Ethnic Reality (POWER).

“I want them to admit they made a mistake,” he said.

Kitsap County filed a response to the suit late last month, categorically denying the claims lodged by Boddie, and the deputy prosecutor representing the county in the case declined to comment this week.

The effort now is to secure a jury trial to consider Boddie’s case.

Until recently, Boddie had been working for the juvenile department under a contract that paid up to $17,000 annually as an instructor for the Aggression Replacement Training (ART) program. Troubled minors who have problems managing their anger take the course, which Boddie founded about three years ago.

Boddie has offered his experiences as a contractor and volunteer mentor at the juvenile department for six years.

But that relationship deteriorated recently, culminating in the termination of his contract in May — short of its expiration, according to Nkosi.

Boddie was accused of pressuring a juvenile’s mother to date him and for creating an awkward situation where a juvenile believed she could receive community service credit if she attended a football game with him and a relative.

Nkosi said Boddie provided the county in the spring with signed affidavits from the mother and two juveniles, clearing his name.

Both accusations appeared in a letter and were sent to Boddie in January by Ned Delmore, the director of the juvenile department. The letter capped off an investigation into the allegations in December and the conclusion was Boddie had acted unprofessionally.

Nkosi calls the investigation “shoddy.”

“Once they wrote that letter saying these things occurred, they wouldn’t change their minds,” said Nkosi.

Delmore, as well as six juvenile department employees and a deputy prosecutor, were named in the suit. They are: Ken Parker, Jennifer Kaunitz, Pamela Martin, Patty Bronson, Sarese Milton, Nancy Wilson and deputy prosecutor Greg Hubbard.

Delmore wouldn’t comment on a pending case.

The suit blames these defendants for the letter, saying it contained numerous “malicious falsities concerning (Boddie’s) reputation, domestic affairs and work-related activities.”

Nkosi said Boddie is a pillar in the community and has only been doing his job — and doing it well. He said Boddie, an African American, was an important role model for troubled youth at the juvenile department.

“Youth respect him,” Nkosi said.

Nkosi said fear of Boddie’s leadership abilities at the juvenile department are most likely behind the contract’s termination.

The suit further alleges Boddie’s contract was “wrongfully terminated” while he was in the middle of fulfilling the contract.

Before Boddie filed suit in Kitsap County Superior Court, he filed a complaint to the county’s Risk Management Office, seeking $100,000 in damages in June.

That claim was not approved.

“This is the first time something has happened in six years and boom, I’m gone,” Boddie said. “It doesn’t make sense.”

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