California Cold Case Sexual Assault Suspect Released Amid Coronavirus Concerns

Gregory Vien is suspected of raping two victims in the late 1990s.
Union City Police Department

A California man arrested in connection to two cold case sexual assaults has been released from jail amid fears of a coronavirus outbreak in the facility, much to the anger of law enforcement, who blasted the decision as one placing the community in danger.

Union City Police Department blasted Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon decision to release Gregory Paul Vien, 61, from their custody due to concerns over exposure to COVID-19 in the northern California jail Thursday.

"This is not normal, this is not acceptable," Alameda County Sheriff spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly told KTVU.

Vein’s release is part of California Judicial Council’s decision to release misdemeanor and non-violent crime suspects.

Vein was charged last November in connection with two separate sexual assaults from 1997. He pleaded not guilty to the charges against him, which included included three felony counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and two felony counts of forcible oral copulation.

Vein, who was being held on $2.5 million bail, is now under house arrest with an ankle monitor.

The move caused fury in the police department, which issued a statement saying, “In this case, Judge Thomas Reardon reduced the bail for suspect Gregory Vien from $2.5 million dollars to $0, effectively releasing the suspected serial rapist back into the community.”

Vien's attorney told KTVU that her client had “unique personal and medical circumstances,” which also led to his release.

"This was pursuant to the long standing rule that bail may be reviewed if there is a change in circumstances when the bail was set," she said. "In my opinion, COVID-19 is such a change."

He was arrested in the cold sexual assault cases last year after cops collected his DNA from a plastic spoon and allegedly matched it with DNA found in the 1997 cases. Police say the charges he faces have not been dropped.

"The Union City Police Department wanted to share this information with our community and let you know that we, like Livermore PD and the District Attorney's Office, do not support this decision and feel it places our communities at greater risk," Union City Police Department said in a statement.

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