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Pleasanton native charged with multiple sexual assaults, other investigations pending

26-year-old man posts bail in Santa Cruz County after feds arrest him in San Diego
(Stock image)

A man who grew up in Pleasanton is facing felony charges in two sexual assault cases from multiple counties and has been the target of at least two rape investigations reported to Tri-Valley police departments, the Pleasanton Weekly has learned.

Austin Nguyen, 26, was arrested by a federal task force in his current hometown of San Diego last month on a warrant out of Santa Cruz County stemming from sexual assault allegations from last decade that were first reported to law enforcement in recent years.

The Weekly has confirmed that Nguyen, who graduated from Foothill High School in 2015, was also named to the Pleasanton Police Department and the Livermore Police Department as the prime suspect in separate rapes reported to those agencies. Both Tri-Valley cases were forwarded to the Santa Cruz County District Attorney's Office for consideration of charges, but the status of that review is unclear.

Nguyen, who had an initial court appearance on July 7 after being transferred to Santa Cruz County Jail, was released from custody on July 11 after posting bail, according to online court records. His arraignment, where he is expected to enter a plea to the six-felony complaint, is scheduled for next Thursday (July 27).

Santa Cruz-area attorney George Gigarjian, who is listed as Nguyen's retained defense counsel, did not respond to multiple requests for comment this month.

Charges were officially filed against Nguyen on May 15 following a multi-agency investigation led by the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, with authorities alleging crimes against separate victims occurring in unincorporated Santa Cruz County and El Dorado County.

One set of charges applies to sexual assault allegations occurring between 2015 and 2016 against one victim, while the other set pertains to an incident in November 2015, according to Santa Cruz County deputy district attorney Michael Mahan, who is prosecuting the case.

Nguyen has been charged with two counts of sexual battery and one count each of sexual penetration by force or fear, oral copulation by force, rape of an unconscious victim and rape of a drugged victim, as well as two special allegations of committing serious felonies.

More than a month after the felony complaint was filed in the Santa Cruz County Superior Court in May, Nguyen was taken into custody on the related arrest warrant in San Diego by the Fugitive Task Force overseen by the U.S. Marshals Service.

He was booked into San Diego County Jail on June 28 and incarcerated there until July 5, when he was transferred to jail in Santa Cruz County, according to San Diego County Sheriff's Lt. David LaDieu.

Ashley Keehn, spokesperson for Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, confirmed that Nguyen was booked into their county jail on July 5 on the six felony charges. The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office is the lead police agency on the consolidated case against Nguyen and still considers the investigation open and ongoing.

Mahan said he did not yet have specifics about whether the two charged cases were tied to allegations from victims from the Tri-Valley, nor about the status of the review by his DA's office of other investigations involving Nguyen submitted by outside agencies.

The timeline of the case reported to Pleasanton PD aligns with one set of charges in the criminal complaint, but according to Sgt. Marty Billdt, the department has not been informed about any charges resulting from their case. The Livermore PD investigation centered on a crime allegedly occurring in Livermore in 2014.

Both Tri-Valley agencies were first contacted in 2021 by individuals identifying Nguyen as an assailant in sexual assaults during the time he was residing in the area.

According to Billdt, someone reported to Pleasanton PD in 2021 that they were raped in the 2015 to 2016 timeframe in the Santa Cruz area, alleging Nguyen was the assailant. Pleasanton police forwarded the case to authorities in Santa Cruz County, the sergeant said.

Also in 2021, a person reported to Livermore PD that they were sexually assaulted by Nguyen in that city in October 2014, according to department spokesperson Azenith Smith.

Livermore detectives investigated the case and discovered Nguyen was a suspect accused in similar crimes in other jurisdictions, according to Smith. The Livermore investigation was completed and the case was forwarded to Santa Cruz County prosecutors for consideration of charges.

The Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office declined to answer questions about other investigations potentially centered on Nguyen but not yet charged.

"Due to the ongoing investigation and criminal case, there are no further details I can release at this time," Keehn told the Weekly. "We are asking anyone with information or who may have been a victim of a crime involving Mr. Nguyen to report it to their local police department."


About the Author: Jeremy Walsh

Jeremy, a Benicia native and American University alum, joined Embarcadero Media in November 2013. After serving as associate editor for the Pleasanton Weekly and, he was promoted to editor of the East Bay Division in February 2017.
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