Grass Valley sex soliciting suspect accused of assault
A Grass Valley man already facing more than six years in prison for a string of sex-related cases now is facing a life sentence after authorities say he tried to rape a woman.
Sean Anthony Saenz, 31, had been set for sentencing last week in Nevada County Superior Court after he pleaded no contest to a felony charge of furnishing marijuana to a minor older than 14, three misdemeanor counts of engaging or agreeing to engage in prostitution, one misdemeanor charge of driving under the influence, and a probation violation.
Grass Valley police arrested Saenz after two different incidents in late February 2019. Saenz approached a teen girl at Silver Springs High School, reportedly trying to lure her into a bathroom for sex and offering her drugs. A day later, he allegedly solicited three women in Nevada City and Grass Valley for sex, displaying cash.
Saenz has been in custody since Aug. 6, 2019, on a $65,000 bond after he failed to appear for a court hearing, according to jail and court records. He entered an “open” plea on Oct. 1, meaning there was no agreement with the District Attorney’s Office on sentencing, and could have faced a maximum of six years and five months.
Judge Candace Heidelberger in December sent Saenz for a 90-day diagnostic evaluation through the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, after the county Probation Department expressed significant concerns in a pre-sentence report. At the time, Deputy District Attorney Ed Grubaugh noted that Saenz’s conduct appeared to have been escalating and was sexual in nature, calling the attempt to lure the girl into a bathroom “predatory.”
It was concerns over Saenz’s predatory conduct that led to his recent arrest on an April 2019 assault case, Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh said.
“We started looking closely at other cases,” Walsh said. “We had a case pending for investigation, from April 2019, in which the suspect entered a house and sexually assaulted a woman, a complete stranger — he attempted to rape her.”
The woman was able to scare the man off, but it was clear there was an attempt at a sexual assault, Walsh said, adding that stranger rape is extremely unusual and represents a “very dangerous kind of predator.”
Investigators located a cigarette butt at the scene, believed to have been left by the suspect, which was sent to the state Department of Justice, Walsh said.
“The DNA came back to him,” Walsh said of Saenz. “Thirty years ago, we couldn’t have solved this case.”
Public Defender Keri Klein, whose office represents Saenz, declined to comment.
Saenz was arraigned on March 5 on one count of felony assault with intent to commit rape, in the commission of a first-degree burglary.
At a bail review hearing Friday, the District Attorney’s Office asked for no bail, Walsh said. Judge Robert Tice-Raskin disagreed, but set bail at $200,000, Walsh said.
Sentencing for Saenz’s February cases now has been rescheduled for May 15, court records state.
Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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