‘Victim F’: Vallejo cop’s alleged quote in kidnapping victim’s book sparks controversy

Vallejo kidnapping victim Denise Huskins and her husband Aaron Quinn have released a book about their 2015  experience entitled “Victim F” — the pseudonym given to Huskins in paperwork surrounding the case.

In the book, Vallejo Detective Sgt. Mat Mustard is quoted as allegedly disparaging victims of rape.

The book, which came out on June 8, is a sharp indictment of the Vallejo Police Department, as well as the FBI and, to some extent, the couple’s employer, Kaiser Permanente.

The case, dubbed by some as “Gone Girl” in reference to the plot of the popular movie and book, in which a woman frames her husband for her fake murder, captured nationwide attention. From the beginning, the VPD was criticized for appearing to suspect only Quinn, treating him like a suspect, not a victim. Once Huskins was safely released from the kidnapper near her mother’s house in Huntington Beach, the VPD switched its narrative to the kidnapping being a “hoax.”

Huskins and Quinn sued Vallejo and walked away with a $2.5 million settlement.

In the book, Mustard is painted as a tobacco-chewing interrogator bent on pinning the crime — perhaps even the murder of Huskins — on her boyfriend, Quinn. The pair describes minimal police work done by the VPD to catch the actual kidnapper, later identified as Matthew Muller, after a dogged investigation by Dublin Police Department Detective Misty Carausu uncovered what actually happened.

Perhaps the most disturbing allegation against Mustard in the book is something Huskins’ mother says the detective said to her while they were frantically searching for their daughter, whom she said had been molested as a child.

“I just want you to know that in our experience, women who have been sexually assaulted before often pretend that it is happening again to get attention and relive the excitement and thrill of that experience,” Mustard is accused of saying.

According to the book, Denise’s mother, Jane, was “so appalled and angry” at the comment that “she could hardly think straight.”

The Times-Herald reached out to the Vallejo Police Department and Mustard, as well as the Vallejo Police Officer’s Association, for comment but did not hear back by press time.

Daniel Russo, the Vallejo defense attorney who represented Quinn, says that such words should have gotten Mustard fired.

“That should have gotten him terminated,” he told the Times-Herald. “A comment like that is so (bleeping) Neanderthal that it should have been his job (taken away). And the fact that it wasn’t shows you what a (bleeping) cartoon the Vallejo Police Department has become. Yosemite Sam at the (bleeping) helm.”

Mustard was the president of the Vallejo Police Officers Association from 2009 to 2019, when he was replaced by now-terminated officer Michael Nichelini, who is suing Vallejo for allegedly making him out to be a “racist cop.”

Mustard wrote an email to the Times-Herald in January of 2020 after the paper approached him about his resignation from the union presidency.

“Does a quote from me really matter?” he asked. “A long time ago I quit reading the negative things that you write about me and other Vallejo officers.”

Mustard said he questioned what he saw as the paper’s depiction of Vallejo officers as “corrupt and racist” and said that “we are all like you. We are husbands/wives, parents that are trying to provide for our families.”

Mustard was voted Vallejo Officer of the Year in 2015, the year of the kidnapping.

Both Huskins and Quinn also outline getting the cold shoulder from their employer Kaiser Permanente in Vallejo, where both were employed as physical therapists at the time of the abduction.

“Unlike Denise, I’m a permanent employee, so Kaiser hasn’t completely ignored me,” writes Quinn in the book, describing his interactions with his employer during the case. “But they won’t let me come back unless I undergo extensive questioning about my relationship with her. The prospect of facing another interrogation almost throws me into a panic attack, and I suspect that Kaiser is searching for a reason to fire me.”

“We have great sympathy for what Ms. Huskins and Mr. Quinn endured and wish only the best for them and their family,” said a spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente, who added that the organization cooperated fully with law enforcement concerning this case.

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Author: Katy St. Clair