VALLEJO (CBS13) — A woman whose kidnapping was initially called a hoax by police is now suing the city.

Denise Huskins and her boyfriend accuse the department of defamation and inflicting emotional stress. The lawsuit describes Huskins and Aaron Quinn surviving a nightmare home invasion and sexual assault only to be treated like criminals when they sought help from police.

The lawsuit says the department “destroyed their reputations through an outrageous and wholly unfounded campaign of disparagement,” and “created a destructive nationwide media frenzy through public statements.”

Statements like one Vallejo Lt. Kenny Park gave to media after Huskins was found.

“Mr. Quinn and Ms. Huskins have plundered valuable resources from our community,” he said nearly one year ago.

But the kidnapping was real, and the feds eventually arrested Matthew Muller by connecting him to the crime through another case.

Former FBI investigator Jim Wedick says in his decades of experience, he’s never seen a kidnapping case handled the way Vallejo Police handled this one.

“You don’t want the perception that a police department would respond to a crime in this fashion,” he said. “The key in this whole thing would have been tracing those phone calls or email messages in an effort to ID the kidnapper and recover the woman.”

The lawsuit alleges police didn’t track the cellphone calls, instead questioning whether Huskins’ and Quinn’s story was true while allowing the real kidnapper to evade capture.