Girl claims abuse by police officer and family friend began in 2008
A young girl is claiming that a Las Vegas police officer began abusing her on a camping trip to Utah in 2008 when she was just 11 years old.Photo: Video by ktnv.com
Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A young girl is claiming that a Las Vegas police officer began abusing her on a camping trip to Utah in 2008 when she was just 11 years old.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Officer Garrett Vandereecken turned himself in yesterday and was booked into the Clark County Detention Center.
Vandereecken, 43, has been a patrol officer with LVMPD for the past four years.
According to a copy of a complaint received from the Clark County District Attorney's office, Vandereecken first abused a young girl on a camping trip to Utah in 2008.
She was 11 years old at the time.
According to the victim, she was with her parents on a camping trip over Memorial Day weekend and they were joined by several family friends, including Garrett Vandereecken and his girlfriend.
The young girl shared a tent with Vandereecken and his girlfriend during the trip while her parents slept in the bed of their truck.
The victim said that she was supposed to share an air mattress in the tent with Vandereecken's girlfriend and he was supposed to sleep on a separate air mattress.
At some point during the middle of the night on the first night, the victim woke up when Vandereecken joined her and his girlfriend.
Approximately 30 minutes later, she felt him place a hand on her hip and soon slip his hand into her pants.
The victim alleges that the actions continued throughout the night and that Vandereecken asked her the next day if he "scared" her.
The victim also said that he told her that he would be "in a world of trouble" if anyone found out.
The victim says that she did not tell anyone what happened at the time because she did not understand that it was wrong.
She did say that she was uncomfortable and spent the rest of the trip sleeping in the family's truck.
The report also describes incidents that took place on a trip to Yellowstone National Park in August of 2011.
During that trip, Vandereecken is accused of once again touching the young girl inappropriately and, eventually, committing a much more serious offense.
In the fall of 2011, the victim attended a sexual assault class at school and heard about sexual abuse scenarios similar to her situation.
She also became concerned when she learned that the police officer was expecting a child with his girlfriend and became frightened that a similar incident could occur if they had a daughter.
The girl first disclosed to someone outside the family. That person encouraged the girl to tell her father, which she eventually did.
The girl's father arranged a meeting with Vandereecken. His daughter and a mutual friend were also at the meeting.
Vandereecken did not admit to the abuse but he made several statements about being stressed because of work.
He also supposedly apologized to the victim for "ever upsetting" or "hurting" the girl.
Vandereecken also implied that he might harm himself.
The girl and her father first reported the incidents to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department in February.
An additional report was filed in early May after the girl told her father about more incidents.
The incident for which Vandereecken was arrested allegedly took place two years ago at Duck Creek Park at 8650 Pollack Drive.
According to the victim, she was playing near the swings when Vandereecken grabbed her breast.
He is being charged with lewdness with a minor under 14.
Since the other incidents took place in other states, authorities from those areas would be responsible for any charges in those cases.
Vandereecken had been friends with the girl's parents for a long time and was a former co-worker of the girl's father.
The victim even describes Vandereecken as a "best friend" in the complaint.