Gwendolyn Wu and Kelsey Knorp
Campus Beat Reporter and National Beat Reporter
Daniel Jiang Chen, a former University of California, Santa Barbara student, will be held without bail as the 2014 sexual assault case moves forward.
In the weeks since a former UCSB student — publicly using the pseudonym Jane Doe — filed a personal injury lawsuit against the UC Board of Regents, law enforcement arrested Chen on Feb. 10 after DNA evidence connected him to the crime. At the time of his arrest, he was in court following an unrelated Jan. 5 arrest for suspicion of felony drug possession of marijuana. Chen’s DNA sample matched those collected from the rape kit and crime scene.
Chen, a 21-year-old from San Ramon, Calif., pleaded not guilty in Santa Barbara Superior Court on Feb. 16 to two counts of forcible rape, along with special allegations of torture and bodily injury. At a Mar. 2 hearing, prosecutors presented graphic photos as evidence of his crimes and suggested Chen may be a flight risk, citing a trip to China preceding his arrest. The defendant’s representation proposed that Chen’s bail be set at $1,250,000, as previously recommended by the court.
The gang rape — thought to involve a total of three suspects — occurred on campus the night of Feb. 23, 2014, after the victim separated from her boyfriend on their walk from Isla Vista. The woman contracted genital herpes following the assault and also suffered numerous head injuries and blunt trauma to her knees, among other wounds that left her “unrecognizable,” according to Ben Ladinig, Santa Barbara’s deputy district attorney.
“I’ve been doing this for 20 years and they’re the worst I’ve seen. That’s why I wanted her to look at those photographs to consider before she made a determination,” Ladinig told KEYT.
The lawsuit filed on Jan. 26 lists charges of personal injury (assault, battery, rape and kidnapping), intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and premises liability. Santa Barbara-based attorney Adam Pearlman currently represents the defendant in court.
“The judges who set the bail schedule in this county looked at the charges that Mr. Chen is charged with,” Pearlman said. “They’ve decided that [bail] should be set at $1,250,000, and I was arguing that the judge should follow that lead.”
As of press time, the two other males also present at the scene of the crime have not been apprehended, while Chen faces 34 years to life in prison. The case will return to court on Apr. 6, while Doe’s personal injury suit is scheduled for a hearing on May 27.