As predicted, attorneys for a couple abducted from their home in Vallejo this spring filed a claim against the city of Vallejo and its police department, claiming those officials waged a "waged a vicious and shocking attack on two victims of a terrifying home invasion, kidnapping and rape" by not believing them and telling the public their tale was a hoax.
The claim also asserts that Vallejo police bungled the case so badly, that they lost a sex assault medical test to prove that the woman who was kidnapped had been raped twice.
A claim is a precursor to a lawsuit, and the 26-page document was filed Thursdayby the San Francisco law firm, Kerr and Wagstaffe, on behalf of Denise Huskins and her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, who were kidnapped on March 23 and later set free by their captor or captors. The claim also targets specific officers: Detective Matthew Mustard, Lt. Kenny Park and Officer Garcia, whose first name was not known.
The story was so wild that Vallejo police said the bizarre events were made up. In fact, the claim uses a March 25 statement made by Park at a news conference when he stated: "Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins have plundered valuable resources away from our community, and has taken the focus away from the true victims of our community, while instilling fear amongst our community members. So, if anything, it is Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins that owes this community an apology.”
In July however, the FBI arrested Matthew Muller as the key suspect in the couple’s abduction, though he has not been formally charged in that case. He is being held in a separate matter following a home invasion in Dublin.
Neither the Vallejo police nor the mayor have publicly apologized to Huskins and Quinn. But the Chief of Police Andrew Bidou did write Quinn and Huskins a letter on July 20, which was submitted as evidence, to "apologize" for the comments made by police, which proved to be "unnecessarily harsh and offensive." Bidou wrote that once Muller has been charged in the Vallejo case, he hopes that the “VPD will make our apology to you public.”
Park deferred his comments on Thursday to the city of Vallejo. "We have not been served with a lawsuit,” said Joanna Altman, spokesperson for the city of Vallejo. “But it sounds like there's a possibility of pending litigation, so we can't comment.”
In general, the claim asserts that the police and the city engaged in "malicious and unlawful conduct," "violated the constitutional rights and unfairly destroyed" the couple's reputations through an "outrageous, completely unprofessional and wholly unfounded campaign of disparagement."
And instead of finding true perpetrator, later identified as Muller, the attorneys said that Huskins, Quinn and the "citizens of Vallejo" deserve justice for the "inexcusable conduct." Some of that conduct, the claim asserts, is that police had incorrectly assumed that Huskins was dead and Quinn killed her, and spent hours interrogating him, when they could have been looking for his girlfriend who was "in the hands of a violent kidnapper."
Police didn't let Quinn use his phone, which he told them, correctly, would be receiving emails and communications from the kidnappers, the claim asserts. The kidnapper did email and even call Quinn, the claim asserts, but police had put the phone on airplane mode, and the police "missed an opportunity to trace the phone to its South Lake Tahoe locations." As police were "dithering," the claim asserts, Huskins was "sexually assaulted, yet again." The claim asserts that Huskins was raped twice. At a news conference, attorney Jim Wagstaffe said that it is an "unbelievable Gone Girl conspiracy" that Huskins was accused of not telling the truth about her rape, and that it is awful that innocent people were "painted as if they were part of a hoax."
Muller has not been charged with rape, although the FBI affidavit state that Huskins reported she was sexually assaulted.
But on page 16, the claim asserts that Vallejo police bungled much of the investigation, including losing Huskins' Sexual Assault Response Team kit. Park said he was told he could not comment on a "pending litigious case."
The claim also states police failed to return several items back to the couple, including their cars and laptops. Then, in June, the claim asserts that Quinn's home was burglarized of about $5,000, but Vallejo police have "refused to pursue the robbery."
NBC Bay Area's Jodi Hernandez contributed to this report.