SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) - Police officers destroyed a couple's reputation by accusing them of faking a rape and kidnapping, and intentionally stoked a national media frenzy, according to a federal lawsuit filed Tuesday.
Plaintiff Denise Huskins claims Vallejo police initially gave up on investigating her abduction and accused her of acting out the plot of the film "Gone Girl" once she was released by her kidnapper.
Vallejo is a city of 116,000 northeast of San Francisco and west of Sacramento.
Shortly after the incident, the FBI charged a man with kidnapping Huskins from her Vallejo home and keeping her captive in the trunk of his car while he drove around California.
According to the lawsuit, after Huskins was found in Southern California the Vallejo Police Department publically called the situation a "wild goose chase" and accused her of acting out a hoax. The department's statements quickly created a "worldwide media frenzy" and trashed her reputation, she claims in her 30-page complaint.
Huskins and her boyfriend, co-plaintiff Aaron Quinn, were forced to move out of town because of the media attention and false accusations, according the lawsuit.
"Vallejo Police Department's conduct was so outrageous that it inspired even the person responsible for kidnapping and raping Huskins to come to her defense," the complaint states. "Huskins' kidnapper provided a full account of what happened in order to alleviate the public perception that [plaintiffs] were somehow criminals."
Huskins, 29, claims the defendants accused her of lying while questioning her "in hopes that they could charge her with a crime."
This past March, Huskins was kidnapped from the Vallejo home she shared with Quinn and allegedly drugged and raped by Matthew Muller. Quinn, who was home at the time of the abduction, told police he was also bound and drugged during the incident.
Quinn gave the police voluntary blood samples and access to his email account while Huskins was still missing.
Vallejo police officers Kenny Park and Mathew Mustard are named as defendants in the lawsuit along with the city of Vallejo. Park held a press conference once Huskins was located, while Mustard interrogated Quinn.
According to the lawsuit, Mustard told Quinn he did not believe there was a kidnapping and that he wanted to "put this thing to bed."
The couple is suing the defendants for defamation, unlawful search and seizure, false arrest and imprisonment, and intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress. They seek damages including punitive damages, a money judgment for their distress and humiliation and lost wages.
They are represented by James Wagstaffe of Kerr & Wagstaffe in San Francisco.
Vallejo Police did not respond to a request for comment after hours Tuesday.
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