Daniel Chen (center)
Kelsey Brugger

A Superior Court judge declined to set a bail amount for Daniel Chen, the 21-year-old former UCSB student facing gang rape charges for a violent attack two years ago. Police say Chen is one of at least three men who savagely beat, raped, and tortured a then 19-year-old female UCSB student for several hours in a dark, bushy area on the edge of the university’s campus late on February 22, 2014.

On Wednesday, defense attorney Adam Pearlman argued Chen, who wore a gray suit and handcuffs in the courtroom, should be eligible for $1.25 million bail because he is not a flight risk. In fact, Chen, who is a U.S. citizen, has traveled to China to visit family in the two years since the alleged crime, he added. In addition, Pearlman contended, Chen has not committed a violent offense in the two years since the alleged crime.

But prosecutor Ben Ladinig, who presented the judge with seven photos of the battered victim, argued state law allows individuals charged with serious felony sex crimes to be ineligible for bail. Chen is a grave threat to public safety, he contended, and the victim — referred to only as Jane Doe — was so injured she was “virtually unrecognizable.” The crime was one of the worst the community has ever seen, he added. “I am not embellishing,” he said.

Chen was not wanted by law enforcement until this January, when his DNA matched in the FBI’s Combined Index system — better known as CODIS — after he was booked for felony marijuana charges in Alameda County. UCSB police officers, who continue to investigate case, arrested Chen in the northern California courtroom last month. (In January, the victim retained attorney Josh Lynn and sued the university and its police department. Per university policy, UCSB does not comment on pending litigation.)

On Wednesday, Ladinig said there is outstanding discovery in this case. It will return to court on April 6.


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