The University of California, Santa Barbara responded Thursday to the arrest of a suspect in the February 2014 rape and assault of a student on campus.
Daniel J. Chen, 21, of San Ramon, Calif., was arrested by UCSB Police on Wednesday and charged with four felonies relating to an assault in the early hours of Feb. 23, 2014, when three men took a woman from Isla Vista to a concealed location next to UCSB’s track and raped her for several hours. Chen attended UCSB from September 2012 to December 2013.
“It has been two years since our campus was deeply shaken by the brutal sexual assault of one of our students,” UCSB said in a statement Thursday.
UCSB Police Sgt. Rob Romero said Chen was arrested in Alameda County on an unrelated felony drug charge, during which authorities swabbed the inside of his mouth for DNA, ultimately leading to the rape charges.
When police in Alameda County ran Chen’s DNA through an FBI database, it matched evidence found at the UCSB crime scene. Chen was transferred to Santa Barbara County Jail on Wednesday, about a week after university police learned of the DNA match, Romero said.
The victim filed a personal injury lawsuit in January alleging, among other claims, that the UCSB Police Department was “understaffed and insufficiently trained” to investigate the case.
Tyrone Maho, one of two attorneys representing the victim, said Thursday that his client was “relieved” to hear about the arrest.
“Our client was really pleased that this developed,” Maho said. “I’m just hoping it leads to the location and the prosecution of any other assailants involved.”
Romero said that while the DNA match was a lucky break, UCPD has continued to investigate the case since 2014.
“Yes, we were fortunate from the DNA hit, but we were never not motivated to solve this case,” Romero said Thursday. “We do know there’s a lawsuit out there but we’ve just been grinding and chipping away at this case.”
In its statement, UCSB said, “We deeply appreciate the multiagency search that led to the uncovering and collection of DNA evidence, which has now resulted in the arrest of a suspect. This is a crucial step toward achieving justice and preventing future tragedies.”
The university said that while the arrest is a step forward, “it may bring renewed pain to our student and her family.”
“We keep them in our thoughts, as we have for the past two years, and we continue to offer our unwavering support and heartfelt sympathy.”
Chen is currently being held without bail in Santa Barbara County Jail. He will be arraigned Feb. 16 in Santa Barbara Superior Court.