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Livermore Cold Case Rape Suspect Released From Custody Over Coronavirus Concerns

LIVERMORE (CBS SF) -- Gregory Vien, a Livermore man being held on $2.5 million bail for allegedly committing a pair of 1997 East Bay rapes was released on his own recognizance from Santa Rita Jail in Dublin, authorities confirmed on Wednesday.

The Alameda County Sheriff's Department said 59-year-old Gregory Paul Vien was released Friday night by a judge's order. Sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told CBS San Francisco the release was based on concern over the spread of COVID-19 at Santa Rita Jail.

The release has outraged local residents and comes after a current zero bail order by the California Judicial Council for misdemeanor and non-violent crime suspects.

"I'm worried about the safety of the community and it's ridiculous they're doing this," Mark, a Livermore resident, told KPIX 5. "I don't think they should be releasing people like that at all."

Follow Livermore resident Carmen Naval echoed those sentiments.

"It's crazy," she said. "I don't know why it took so long for them to even find him, and then let him go. I wouldn't."

Vien was arraigned on Nov. 7, 2019 on three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and two counts of forcible oral copulation for two alleged sexual assaults in 1997.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley alleged in a press release that on May 6, 1997, Vien attacked the 41-year-old woman in Union City as she walked to BART after work and dragged her to a secluded area, where he sexually assaulted her. She said Union City police detectives were able to obtain a sample of the suspect's DNA from the victim's clothing.

O'Malley further alleged that on Sept. 15, 1997, Vien attacked the 22-year-old woman while she was on a walk near Livermore High School and
sexually assaulted her. She said Livermore police were able to collect a DNA sample from the crime scene.

DNA samples from both crime scenes were analyzed in a timely manner and were found to be a match to each other, meaning that law enforcement knew that the same person was responsible for both assaults. Those samples were uploaded into the national DNA database but no "hit" was made to determine the identity of the assailant.

Union City police Detective Joshua Clubb wrote in a probable cause statement that authorities finally got a break in the case when Livermore officers, who were conducting extensive surveillance on Vien, surreptitiously collected a Baskin-Robbins spoon that he had discarded and sent it to a DNA lab for forensic analysis.

The lab determined that the swab from the spoon matched semen stains and sperm in the Union City rape case.

O'Malley said DNA evidence that was collected when Vien was arrested at his home in the 100 block of Cameo Drive in Livermore on Nov. 5 also connected him to both sexual assaults.

"For over 20 years, the survivors of these sexual assaults have lived with the constant uncertainty that comes with not knowing when, if ever, their assailant will be identified and brought to justice," O'Malley said in a statement.

Clubb wrote that when police recently interviewed the Union City victim she said "she was afraid her attacker was going to kill her at the time."

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