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Sexual assault suspect released from Santa Rita jail due to COVID-19

Bay Area

ALAMEDA, Calif. (KRON) – An emergency order to release non-violent inmates from jail due to COVID-19, appears to have been used to release a violent sexual assault suspect, according to an East Bay city official. 

The council that wrote the order says that was not the intention. 

“When the bail motion was made we strenuously objected to it,” Alameda County District Attorney spokesperson Teresa Drenick said.

“The attorney specifically petitioned Judge Reardon to reduce his bail,” Livermore Mayor John Marchand said. 

There is controversy regarding the an Alameda County Superior Court Judges decision to reduce the bail, paving the way to release 61-year-old Gregory Vien from Santa Rita Jail. 

Vien was arrested back in November as a suspect in a pair of violent sexual assaults that occurred back in 1997 — One in Union City, the other in the town of Livermore where he is now on home confinement. 

“The gentleman was being held on $2.5 million of bail. We believe that poses a danger to the community,” Drenick said. 

However, after Vien’s attorney told the judge her client has a medical condition, the judge reduced Vien’s bail down to zero. 

Livermore Mayor John Marchand believes the judge misused the California Judicial Council’s emergency bail reduction order which released non-violent criminals from jail to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“The Judicial Council has recommendations that the judge has the authority to reduce bail to zero for level felonies and misdemeanors. In my mind, multiple violent rapes does not constitute low level felonies and I don’t think that he should have been release into my community,” Marchand said. 

A representative from the California Judicial Council sent KRON4 this statement:

“The Judicial Council’s emergency $0 bail schedule applies only to those accused of misdemeanors and low-level felonies as a way to safely reduce jail populations during the pandemic. People accused of serious, violent felonies, crimes requiring sex offender registration, domestic violence or stalking, or driving under the influence are not eligible under this rule.

It is also not a blanket release order—a judge can still deny or raise bail if they find good cause that a defendant is a threat to public safety.”

That is why Mayor Marchand penned a letter to state leaders including Governor Gavin Newsom hoping to find advocates who can help reverse this decision.

“My top priority as the Mayor of Livermore is the safety of my community,” Marchand said.

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