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Police sued for dismissing Calif. kidnapping case as hoax

A woman says she is kidnapped, sexually assaulted and held for three days. When she is freed, police publicly cast doubt on her story. They imply the whole thing may have been a hoax.

Denise Huskins alleges police in Vallejo, California, did just that and has filed a claim against the city and three police officers. But it gets worse, according to the document, which adds new allegations to an already bizarre case.

When her boyfriend, Aaron Quinn, alerted police and asked for help in March, they scoffed at his story of how kidnappers broke into his home the previous night while they slept and took Huskins away, the claim said.

And police endangered her life by cutting off contact between Quinn and the kidnappers, who said they’d be in touch with him about ransom demands, the claim said.

18-hour interrogation

Instead of helping, police accused Quinn of killing Huskins and fabricating the kidnapping as a cover, the claim said. While the kidnappers tormented her, detectives put him through the wringer with 18 hours of grueling interrogation, it said.

And that was the second round of agony for Quinn. Before he met the detective, the kidnappers had tied him up, blindfolded him and knocked him cold with a sedative, the claim said.

CNN has left a phone message with the Vallejo Police Department requesting comment on the allegations against three of its officers.

The Vallejo Times-Herald said the Vallejo Police Department declined to comment on the claim because it’s a pending civil case.

When Huskins’ story first broke, police publicly cast doubts about Quinn’s account.

“The statement Mr. Quinn provided was such an unbelievable story we initially had a hard time believing it and, upon further investigation, were not able to substantiate any of the things he was saying,” Vallejo Police Lt. Kenny Park said at the time.

He called the case a “wild goose chase” that had wasted police resources.

Kidnappers’ messages blocked

The kidnappers had told Quinn to watch his cell phone for messages about their ransom demands of $17,000, but police separated him from his phone and did not watch it themselves for the kidnappers’ messages, the claim said.

“The officers never paid attention to this obvious lead as to the location of Denise,” according to the document.

And the messages came.

“As Aaron told the officers would occur, the kidnapper reached out both by email and phone. At 7:46 p.m. and 8:13 p.m., while Aaron was being detained, the kidnapper sent emails stating that he would call Aaron on his mobile device ‘at about 9pm.’ The kidnapper followed through with phone calls,” the document said.

But police detectives allegedly put Quinn’s cell phone on airplane mode.

Kidnapper’s guilty conscience

The case got national attention because of the alleged kidnappers’ surprising behavior. The kidnappers allegedly freed Huskins on the third day of her abduction.

When police cast doubt on Huskins’ story, the alleged kidnappers apparently emailed a local newspaper to express outrage.

The San Francisco Chronicle received one that was 3½ pages long. Two days later, came another essay that was 20 printed pages long — and railed against the way police treated Huskins and Quinn.

“We cannot stand to see two good people thrown under the bus by the police and media, when Ms. Victim F (Huskins) and Mr. Victim M (Quinn) should have received only support and sympathy,” the email read. “We are responsible for the victims’ suffering and the least we can do is come forward to prove they are not lying.”

The email described the group of kidnappers as three old friends who thought some crime might be exciting and had stolen some cars before turning to kidnapping.

Suffering with character

But watching Huskins suffer and do so with character had turned them off to abduction, the email said. It said her character had helped stop an abduction ring before it could get off the ground.

However, another incident in California matched Huskins.

On June 5, Alameda County Sheriff’s detectives began investigating a break-in similar to the one that Huskins and Quinn said they had experienced.

A husband and wife were in a home in Dublin. The husband broke free and fought back.

The assailant fled, leaving his cell phone behind. Police traced it to Matthew Muller, a Harvard law graduate and a former Marine. Police also found a stolen car at his address that contained objects Huskins had described in her kidnapping.

Muller was charged with one count of kidnapping in the case.

Huskins’ lawyer Douglas Rappaport said the arrest showed his client was telling the truth all along.

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