Las Vegas Sun

November 21, 2017

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law enforcement:

Girl alleges abuse by Metro officer on camping trips, police say

Garrett Vandereecken

Garrett Vandereecken

A teen girl has alleged a Metro Police officer — a close family friend — sexually abused her multiple times during a four-year period, according to an arrest report released Wednesday.

Metro’s juvenile sexual abuse detail arrested 43-year-old Garrett Vandereecken on Tuesday on a felony count of lewdness with a minor, police said. Vandereecken, with Metro for four years and assigned to the Northwest Area Command, was suspended without pay.

The allegations against Vandereecken came to light in February when the girl and her father went to police, the report states.

According to the arrest report, the 15-year-old girl told her parents that Vandereecken had inappropriately touched her during a camping trip at Zion National Park over Memorial Day weekend in 2008.

The girl alleged she was sleeping in a tent with Vandereecken and his girlfriend when the abuse first occurred, the report states.

She told detectives Vandereecken asked her to keep the incident secret because if anyone found out, he would be in trouble, the report states.

When the girl told her parents, they staged an intervention with Vandereecken at a Las Vegas restaurant, where he allegedly neither admitted nor denied the accusation, the report states.

The girl and her father filed a police report after a counselor instructed them to do so, according to the police report.

In early May, the girl’s father contacted police again and said his daughter had disclosed three other alleged instances of abuse, most recently in August 2011 during camping trips in Wyoming and Idaho, the report states.

She told police she decided to disclose the alleged incidents after learning that Vandereecken’s girlfriend recently gave birth to a baby girl, police said.

The girl told detectives she was “concerned (a) similar incident may occur between his daughter and him,” according to the arrest report.

She described her relationship with Vandereecken as very close, at one point referring to him as her “best friend,” the report states.

Detectives attempted to interview Vandereecken, but he referred them to his attorney, police said.

Authorities issued a warrant for his arrest on a count of lewdness with a minor related to one allegation reported in Las Vegas. In that instance, Vandereecken is accused of inappropriately touching the then 13-year-old girl at Duck Creek Park in the spring of 2010.

Police said Vandereecken voluntarily surrendered to detectives and was booked into the Clark County Detention Center. He was relieved of duty without pay pending the outcomes of criminal and internal investigations.

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