DNA From Discarded Plastic Spoon Led to Arrest of 1997 Sexual Assault Suspect

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DNA from a discarded plastic Baskin-Robbins ice cream spoon led to the arrest of a 59-year-old Livermore man for allegedly sexually assaulting two women in Livermore and Union City in 1997, according to court documents made public on Monday.

Gregory Paul Vien was arraigned on Nov. 7 on three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object and two counts of forcible oral copulation for the alleged sexual assaults of a 41-year-old woman in Union City on May 6, 1997, and a 22-year-old woman in Livermore on Sept. 15, 1997.

Vien, a maintenance worker who's being held without bail, is scheduled to return to Alameda County Superior Court in Dublin on Wednesday to enter a plea.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley alleged in a press release that on May 6, 1997, Vien attacked the 41-year-old woman in Union City as she walked to BART after work and dragged her to a secluded area, where he sexually assaulted her.

She said Union City police detectives were able to obtain a sample of the suspect's DNA from the victim's clothing.

O'Malley alleged that on Sept. 15, 1997, Vien attacked the 22-year-old woman while she was on a walk near Livermore High School and sexually assaulted her.

She said Livermore police were able to collect a DNA sample from the crime scene.

O'Malley said the DNA samples from both crime scenes were analyzed in a timely manner and were found to be a match to each other, meaning that law enforcement knew that the same person was responsible for both assaults.

She said the samples were uploaded to the national DNA database but no "hit" was made to determine the identity of the assailant.

Union City police Detective Joshua Clubb wrote in a probable cause statement that authorities finally got a break last summer when Livermore officers who were conducting extensive surveillance on Vien surreptitiously collected a Baskin-Robbins spoon that he had discarded and sent it to a DNA lab for forensic analysis.

Clubb said on Aug. 28 the lab determined that the swab from the spoon matched semen strains and sperm in the Union City rape case.

O'Malley said DNA evidence that was collected when Clubb was arrested at his home in the 100 block of Cameo Drive in Livermore on Nov. 5 also connected him to both sexual assaults.

"For over 20 years, the survivors of these sexual assaults have lived with the constant uncertainty that comes with not knowing when, if ever, their assailant will be identified and brought to justice," O'Malley said in a statement.

O'Malley said, "The police agencies never gave up, nor let these investigations go cold. Their dedication, tenacity and excellent investigative work, has now paid off in the arrest of Mr. Vien."

Clubb wrote that when police recently interviewed the Union City victim she said "she was afraid her attacker was going to kill her at the time."

Livermore police said there are three additional unsolved brutal sexual assaults that occurred in Livermore between 1995 and 1997, which have similar characteristics to those in the incidents for which Vien has been charged.

They said Vien is a long-time Livermore resident who also frequented Union City, Fremont, Hayward, San Lorenzo and San Ramon in the mid of late 1990s.

Livermore police said anyone who has information about the unsolved cases should contact Sgt. Steve Goard at (925) 580-9585 or sgoard@cityoflivermore.net.

Union City police said people with information also can contact Detective Clubb at (510) 675-5227 or joshuac@unioncity.org.

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