Livermore mayor outraged after rape and kidnapping suspect released from Santa Rita Jail due to COVID-19 concerns

ByKris Reyes KGO logo
Sunday, May 3, 2020
Rape suspect released from Santa Rita Jail due to COVID-19 concerns, Livermore mayor outraged
Gregory Vien, 61, is under house arrest after the Alameda Co. judge changed his bail from $2.5 million to $0. In April, the California Judicial Council began setting bail at zero for misdemeanor and low-level felonies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- Gregory Vien, 61, is under house arrest after Alameda County Judge Thomas Reardon changed his bail from $2.5 million to zero. In April, the California Judicial Council began moving toward setting bail at zero for misdemeanor and low-level felonies to limit the spread of COVID-19.

Vien was being held, awaiting his trial, in Santa Rita jail in Dublin where there has been an outbreak of the disease.

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In a scathing public letter, John Marchand, the mayor of Livermore, said that Vien is now living in his community and wants the decision reversed.

"My community is outraged and I want to speak out for my community because my number one priority is the safety of my community," Marchand said.

Vien was arrested and charged in 2019 after a lengthy investigation that goes back to the '90s after multiple victims were kidnapped and raped in Livermore and Union City. His trial date has not been set.

His lawyer, Melissa Adams sent ABC7 this lengthy statement:

My firm represents Mr. Vien. I filed a bail motion on his behalf, requesting Judge Reardon to release him on his own recognizance, with the added condition of wearing an ankle monitor (GPS). Judge Reardon granted my motion, over the prosecutor's objection. Mr. Vien is on house arrest, meaning, he must stay in his home except to attend meetings at my office or to attend court. He is not permitted to travel, run errands, or even visit friends.

To be clear, Mr. Vien was not released pursuant to the Emergency Bail Schedule. The community seems to be confused about this fact. The Emergency Bail Schedule applies mainly to those accused of non-violent, non-serious offenses. Mr. Vien's bail was unchanged when the Emergency Bail Schedule was applied to his case. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Mr. Vien's unique personal and medical circumstances, I argued that his bail should be reviewed. This was pursuant to the long standing rule that bail may be reviewed if there is a change in circumstances from when the bail was set. In my opinion, COVID-19 is such a change.

I understand that the community is outraged. I've read the vicious comments on various news articles. But, in this country, people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. DNA evidence is not infallible, and neither are the experts who conduct the testing. There is more to this case than DNA and there is still much work to be done. Thankfully, in this country we do not convict people based on news articles or allegations or personal feelings about certain types of offenses. There is a process in place to determine guilt or innocence of criminal charges and that process must be upheld.

Finally, I would ask the community to respect the privacy of the family at this time. Threats to the family, Mr. Vien and myself will not be tolerated. All threats are being reported to the police.

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Adams didn't clarify the details of Vien's medical condition.

"I don't believe that releasing someone on $0 bail is in the best interest of his community. What incentive does he have to keep his ankle monitor charged," said Marchand who is asking his community to write to their representatives to call for reversing the decision.

Marchand said he is also speaking with his team at the City of Livermore.

"People are outraged that a man who represents a risk to our community, that the judge made the call that his health and well being is more important than the safety of our community," Marchand said.

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