Captain Matt Vander Horck was dismissed and replaced from his position as Station Captain Tuesday. Photo from Lost Hills Sheriffs Department
The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department demoted the station captain who supervised the investigation of the sexual assault of a Pepperdine student at the Malibu Canyon Village apartment complex (referred to by Pepperdine students as “Stinkies”) just days after the incident.
Captain Matt Vander Horck was removed from his assignment as station captain of the Lost Hills Sheriff’s department Tuesday, Feb. 18. The sheriff’s department declined comment on the demotion, saying “it’s a personnel matter and we cannot answer at this time.”
Malibu City Manager Reva Feldman wrote in an email that Commander Chris Reed of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department verbally informed the city of the demotion Tuesday:
“[We were informed that] Malibu-Lost Hills Station Captain Matt Vander Horck was being removed from his assignment as captain and he was being replaced by Acting Captain Chuck Becerra.”
The assault occurred around 4 a.m., Feb. 8. The suspect entered the premises through a hole in the barbed wire fence surrounding the perimeter of the complex. He then proceeded to enter the victim’s apartment through the front door, which the victim and her roommate left unlocked.
LA County Sheriff’s deputies arrested the subject, Matthew Fairchild, 34, Wednesday morning.
The victim expressed her dissatisfaction with the handling of the case in the Graphic’s previous reporting on the incident.
“They kind of brushed it off and were like, ‘What do you want us to do about it?’” the student said. “They said that since there was no sign of a disturbance, and [the intruder] was nice about it and wasn’t very violent, that there was really not a whole lot they could do about it.”
The student also expressed her regret that a female police officer wasn’t present during the initial investigation and questioning.
“It seemed like the officers weren’t fully grasping the fear and trauma that can occur,” the student said. “Especially when you are someone [like me] who absolutely cannot fight back and is caught in a really vulnerable position, such as sleeping in your own bed. I can’t help but think that maybe a woman would have made sure to be more diligent with the process.”
The student said deputies failed to retrieve security’s video evidence of the transient man entering the apartment until three days after the incident occurred. When deputies initially responded to the student’s report of the break-in, they questioned the validity of her story.
Officers at the scene asked if the student had a history of using hallucinogens or having vivid dreams, making her feel like she may have imagined the incident, the student said.
This is at least the fourth demotion of a higher-up in the Lost Hills Sheriffs Department since October 2019.