Daniel Chen (center) and his defense attorney Adam Pearlman (left) appear before Superior Court Judge Raimundo Montes De Oca (right).

Paul Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent

Daniel Chen, the 21-year-old former UCSB student charged with being involved in a vicious, high-profile gang rape on campus in 2014, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. Just shy of a week after UCSB police officers arrested him at an Alameda County courtroom — where he was scheduled to appear for an unrelated felony marijuana charge — Chen, who is ineligible for bail, appeared indifferent standing behind the glass in an orange jumpsuit.

Authorities believe Chen and at least two other men attacked a 19-year-old female UCSB student late at night on February 23, 2014, in an area at the edge of campus purported to be overgrown with foliage. According to the University of California Police Department (UCPD), DNA evidence discovered at the scene after the attack was entered into the FBI’s Combined Index System, known as CODIS.

Daniel Chen
Paul Wellman/Santa Barbara Independent

Last month, when Chen was booked into a northern California jail for the felony drug charge, he was required to provide a swab of his DNA, which ultimately led to the match. (Also last month, the victim filed a person-injury lawsuit against the university. UCSB declined to comment on pending litigation.)

Citing an active investigation, a UCSB Police Department spokesperson declined to comment on other suspects. Chen faces charges of rape, false imprisonment, and battery with intent of committing great bodily injury. Defense attorney Adam Pearlman represents him. Prosecutor Ben Ladinig said Chen faces life in prison with the possibility of parole.


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