SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Attorneys for the Vallejo couple who were targeted in a bizarre kidnap-for-ransom plot filed a legal claim Thursday against the city, saying their clients’ reputations were damaged and that they suffered emotional distress after they were branded as hoaxsters.
James Wagstaffe, an attorney for Denise Huskins and Aaron Quinn, filed legal claims against Vallejo, which are precursors to a formal lawsuit.
The documents accuse police of publicly smearing the two after Huskins survived an ordeal in March during which she was drugged, blindfolded and sexually assaulted.
At a news conference at his San Francisco office, Wagstaffe and colleagues Kevin Clune and Ken Nabity said their clients were mistreated and re-victimized by the police after Huskins was released by her abductor hundreds of miles away in Southern California.
The police said the couple had orchestrated their own abduction and has wasted valuable resources.
“When law enforcement officers place a verbal tattoo on someone, says you are a hoaxster, that you imagined a crime when you're actually a victim of a crime, the law hopefully provides compensation to that person,” Wagstaffe said. “The tattoo is almost impossible to eliminate."
The attorneys revealed that Vallejo Police Chief Andrew Bidou had written letters of apology to the couple.
"We apologize for and regret comments made by representatives of the Vallejo Police Department during the initial kidnapping investigation,” Bidou wrote. “We understand that these contributed to the difficulty and personal ordeal that you have experienced. While these comments were based on our findings at the time, they proved to be unnecessarily harsh and offensive."
The attorneys say those letters were never released publicly and said that the chief still defended his officers’ actions.
Vallejo police and city officials declined to comment Thursday.
Vallejo has six months to respond to the claim. If the city rejects the claim, the couple intends to file a formal lawsuit, according to Wagstaffe.