Former UCSB student Christian Covarrubias is facing probation and potential jail time after pleading guilty to charges of felony false imprisonment and felony sexual assault.
Covarrubias, a former freshman and resident of the Francisco Torres Residence Hall (FT), entered into a plea bargain with the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s Office last Friday. Deputy District Attorney Joyce Dudley said Covarrubias agreed to serve a five-year probation sentence, but could face potential time in a state prison because of his felony charges. She said Covarrubias will remain in the Santa Barbara County Jail, where he has been held since his arrest, until his sentencing hearing on March 17.
UCPD officers arrested Covarrubias on Nov. 19 after they responded to a call from a female FT resident who reported that an unknown male assailant had forced his way into her dorm room and sexually assaulted her.
Dudley said the judge at the sentencing hearing will determine how much time Covarrubias actually spends in jail.
Regardless of the outcome of his sentencing, Dudley said Covarrubias’ plea bargain stipulates that he will be put on probation for five years, during which time he will be banned from UCSB and from having any contact with the victim. He also must abstain from drinking alcohol. If he violates the guidelines of his sentence, she said, he could go to prison.
Covarrubias will also have to register as a sex offender each time he moves into a new community. Failure to register with local law enforcement is a felony and could result in additional charges being filed, Dudley said.
While Covarrubias was originally charged with felony sexual battery, attempted rape and burglary, Dudley said she dropped the rape and burglary charges during the plea bargaining process.
“He’s accepting responsibility to two huge felony charges,” Dudley said. “I thought that was enough, and when I consulted with the victim, she thought it was enough, too.”
Dudley said she believes strongly that Covarrubias committed the crimes the victim claimed he did. In the hearing, Dudley said, Covarrubias proved he wanted to turn his life around and start over, so she wanted to give him a break. However, she said she thought he deserved the punishment he received.
“[This case was] absolutely not blown out of proportion,” Dudley said.