Facing life in prison, Daniel Chen, the former UCSB student charged with brutally raping a female student, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday. Charges include multiple counts of forcible rape in concert with others with torture enhancements. The case is set for trial on February 1, 2017.
Law enforcement initially characterized the case as a gang rape, but it is now unclear if other suspects actually engaged in rape or aided the attack, which allegedly took place in thick bushes outside UCSB’s Recreation Center in February 2014. Earlier this year, police arrested Chen after semen found in used condoms at the crime scene matched a DNA swab Chen later provided to Northern California police for an unrelated felony drug charge. Asked about other suspects, prosecutor Ben Ladinig declined to comment. “The person we have in custody is the only person we have identified.”
One of Chen’s two defense attorneys, Adam Pearlman, is no longer on the case and declined to comment. Los Angeles-based Sharon Appelbaum remains Chen’s attorney but calls to her office were not returned. Chen’s parents, who are from Northern California, were not in court on Wednesday but have been in the past. Chen remains in custody without bail.
Last month, witnesses at the preliminary hearing revealed that both of the victim’s eyes were swollen shut when medics administered a rape kit shortly after the attack. A medic described the injuries as the worst she had ever seen in a sexual assault case. The victim also suffered a broken nose, bruised knees, and genital injuries. A forensic investigator testified that only Chen’s semen was discovered on used condoms and underwear found in the bushes.