SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – The Vallejo Police Department was sued in federal court Tuesday for its handling of the kidnapping of a physical therapist who forcibly taken from her home, sexually assaulted and then released near her parents’ home in Huntington Beach last year.
The suit stems from the March 23, 2015 kidnapping of Denise Huskins from her Vallejo home. It was initially believed by police to be a hoax and incorrectly dubbed the ‘Gone Girl’ kidnapping after a movie and book which tells of a woman’s sudden disappearance and the suspicion centering on her husband.
From the early hours of the case, the Vallejo police did not believe an abduction had occurred and instead focused their investigative efforts on her then boyfriend Aaron Quinn who was sleeping along with Huskins at the home when the break-in occurred.
Quinn told police he had been drugged, bound and told he was not to move off the couch and contact police. If he did, Quinn told police, Huskins would be harmed.
The intruder then allegedly left with his car and Huskins. He also left behind a remote video camera to monitor Quinn’s compliance with the order. Several hours later, Quinn had recovered from the drugs’ effect, freed himself and called police.
Quinn was questioned for 18 straight hours by police, the suit claims, but continued to maintain that Huskins had been kidnapped.
At a March 25th news conference, Vallejo police spokesman Lt. Kenny Park told reporters there was no validity to Quinn’s claims that Huskins had been kidnapped and was being held for ransom.
Meanwhile, Huskins was taken to Southern California where the suit claims she was sexually assaulted twice before she was released near her parents Huntington Beach home.
The suit claims the police also refused to believe her and made false statements to her family.
At a news conference on the night she was released from captivity, Park is also quoted as telling reporters, “And from this point forward, I will not refer to them (Quinn and Huskins) as a victim or a witness.”
He further stated, “I can tell you our investigation has concluded that none of the claims have been substantiated.”
In June, the FBI arrested Matthew Muller after a break-in of a home in Dublin and suspected break-ins in homes in Palo Alto and Mountain View. Many aspects of the cases were similar to the Huskins abduction.
Further investigation led to Muller being charged with Huskins kidnapping. Last October, Muller pleaded not guilty in the case, about a month after the FBI said it obtained an “off the record” jailhouse interview in which he admitted being the mastermind behind the kidnapping.
The lawsuit seeks unspecified financial damages from the Vallejo police department and its personnel for false and defamatory statements made about Quinn and Huskins, for false arrest and imprisonment and for emotional distress.
“They want justice and they do want to make sure that something like this cannot happen to anyone else,” said the couple’s attorney, Kevin Clune.
Through their attorney, the couple said the lawsuit was the first step towards getting their lives back.
“The only crazy part about this story is the way the police acted,” said Clune. “There’s virtually no precedent that we know of for police — upon having someone just get out of claiming they were kidnapped and raped — to immediately go on national TV and just completely ruin their reputations and turn their lives upside down.”
KPIX 5 reached out to the City of Vallejo for comment on the lawsuit, but had not received a response yet as of early Tuesday evening.
According to Clune, Quinn and Huskins are still a couple.