A federal judge has thrown out a civil lawsuit filed by a Fall Creek man who claimed a female agent for the Internal Revenue Service who was auditing him coerced him into having sex.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Thomas Coffin ruled that the suit should not go forward because the alleged coercion was not clearly connected to the agent’s job with the IRS and happened outside normal work hours and places. An attorney for the man who brought the suit takes issue with Coffin’s conclusion and plans to appeal.
The suit was filed earlier this year by an attorney for Vincent Burroughs of Fall Creek.
The suit said that in August 2011 Burroughs was contacted by an IRS agent named Dora Abrahamson, who said she was auditing his tax returns.
After flirting with Burroughs through phone calls and text messages, Abrahamson showed up at his home “provocatively attired,” the suit said, and told him that “if he would give her what she wanted, she would give him what he needed.”
She allegedly suggested the outcome of the audit would be predicated on whether Burroughs had sex with her, which he did, the suit said.
After Burroughs filed the lawsuit and it was reported in The Register-Guard, the story went viral and appeared in newspapers and news broadcasts across the country. It was featured in a segment on the ABC News program 20 /20 and became fodder for jokes on late-night television.
Abrahamson, who left the IRS, later was dismissed as a defendant in the case and the suit proceeded against the federal government.
In the suit, David Moule, the Eugene attorney representing Burroughs, said the government should be held liable for an unspecified amount in damages because the incident damaged Burroughs’ relationship with his girlfriend and subjected him to anguish, humiliation, depression and “loss of trust in government authority.”
A key issue in the suit was whether Abrahamson was acting in the “course and scope” of her job as an IRS agent. Coffin found that because the liaison occurred during non-work hours and at Burroughs’ home, Abrahmason was not acting in an official capacity.
The judge also found that federal law gives the government immunity from lawsuits over such claims and rejected Moule’s other arguments.
Moule had argued that because the tryst flowed from Abrahamson’s official duties auditing Burroughs’ tax returns, it met the “course and scope” requirement. He also cited precedents in which government workers were held liable for similar conduct.
Moule said he disagrees with Coffin’s reasoning and plans to appeal to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.