Friday, May 25 , 2018, 5:34 am | Fair 50º


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Man Sentenced to 36 Years in Prison for Brutal Rape, Beating of UCSB Student

Daniel Jiang Chen, 22, is expected to serve 85% of his term before being released

Daniel Chen is escored from a Santa Barbara courtroom Friday after being sentenced to 36 years in prison for the brutal rape and beating of a UCSB student.. Click to view larger
Daniel Chen is escored from a Santa Barbara courtroom Friday after being sentenced to 36 years in prison for the brutal rape and beating of a UCSB student.. (Vicky Nguyen / KEYT News photo)

A 22-year-old man who pleaded guilty to beating and raping a UC Santa Barbara student in an on-campus attack in 2014 was sentenced Friday to 36 years in prison.

Daniel Jiang Chen of San Ramon pleaded guilty in August to two separate rapes by force, inflicting great bodily injury, kidnapping and robbery for the Feb. 23, 2014, assault.

In August, Chen, a former UCSB student, admitted to twice raping the woman identified in court as Jane Doe, causing great bodily injury each time.

He also stole the victim’s cell phone by force, leading to the robbery charge.

Judge James Herman sentenced him to the prison term Friday after victim-impact statements from Doe and her parents.

Chen has to register as a sex offender and will likely serve at least 85 percent of the total sentence, Prosecutor Benjamin Ladinig has said.

Multiple people are suspected of participating in the brutal gang rape and beating, but Chen is the only one arrested and charged related to the crimes.  

A crowd of people filled the Santa Barbara County courtroom for the sentencing, to support Doe and her family.

Doe, who was a 19-year-old UCSB student at the time of the attack, eventually returned to UCSB to finish her coursework and get her degree.

She talked about the strong memories from the night of the attack, the “bits and pieces” of being beaten, of being raped, of begging Chen to just let her go.

Chen had stolen her phone, so once she was able to walk home, Doe’s roommate called 9-1-1.

Doe went to the bathroom to wash her hands and looking into the mirror, she saw the extent of her injuries.

“I was unrecognizable even to myself,” she said.

At the hospital, she remembers asking why it had happened to her, and asking for a rape kit, over and over again.

She described recovery as a dull ache, a “crawl toward feeling whole again.”

She wanted to return to UCSB to try and make things feel normal, to not give up anything else to the men who attacked her.

She has PTSD and struggled with leaving her house. She felt uncomfortable in crowded classrooms worrying about whether she’d have a panic attack or if one of her attackers, who law enforcement thought could have been UCSB students, was in the next row.

Doe said she is learning to survive even when she doesn’t want to, because it would hurt too many people to stop.

“There are days I am still the girl in the dirt,” she said.

To Chen, she said she doesn’t believe he is capable of rehabilitation, and part of her wishes he would be locked away forever.

“I fight for the women you could be hurting in 36 years, and fight for the women they (the other attackers) could be hurting right now,” Jane Doe said.

Her parents also spoke in court.

Doe’s father said he was “shocked and heartbroken when I went in to see her” at the hospital.

He thanked her many friends, who rallied around her to keep her “sane and connected to the community” with visits and calls during her recovery, he said.

Both parents reminded the court that there will not be closure in the case until all the attackers face justice.

“Several individuals were involved and were responsible but only one is here today,” Jane Doe’s father said.

Chen spoke very briefly in court, in a monotone with many pauses.

He softly said was “really, deeply sorry” and “I just … I was wrong.”

He also asked for forgiveness.

Herman, who called the attack brutal, evil, vicious and unexplainable, said that although Chen said he was sorry, he has not identified the other attackers, who could commit future violence against women.

“But for modern DNA evidence, Mr. Chen would not be here,” he added.

The “evil viciousness of him and his friends stalking someone vulnerable” created “horrible, painful ripples” impacting so many people, Herman said.

“This event stunned our community,” he added. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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