Penn Valley rape suspect found, arrested |

Penn Valley rape suspect found, arrested

Rape suspect Christopher Smith was detained Friday in Kings County.
Photo courtesy Kings County Sheriff’s Office

A Grass Valley man suspected of raping an 18-year-old woman on July 3 was apprehended Friday in Kings County, a rural area of the state south of Fresno and north of Bakersfield, authorities said.

Detectives had been searching for Christopher John Smith, 31, since receiving a report last week that a Penn Valley woman was raped in Western Gateway Park. A $500,000 warrant for Smith’s arrest was issued on Wednesday, said sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Trygg.

According to a press release issued by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the woman reported having been sexually assaulted at the park by a man she had befriended earlier in the day. Throughout the weekend, detectives in the Major Crimes Unit and the Special Investigations Unit actively searched for Smith and conducted additional interviews, Trygg said.

“Detective Strachan in our Major Crimes Unit had followed up on information that led us to believe Smith was in Kings County,” Trygg said in the release. “After requesting assistance from the Kings County Sheriff’s Office, they were able to locate Smith and arrest him.”

The news of Smith’s arrest was greeted with relief by the victim’s family.

“We all can rest a little easier knowing that this monster is off the streets,” said the girl’s father, who is not being named to protect her identity.

“As we turned to the community for support in finding the perpetrator, we were overwhelmed by the collaborative efforts of so many,” he said, calling the search a “week-long mission.”

He said the entire family wanted to thank their friends, family, law enforcement and strangers who helped in Smith’s apprehension, adding the community effort was one positive note in a difficult time.

It was not clear when Smith would be transported to Nevada County, Trygg said Friday afternoon.

Smith also had an outstanding warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear for mental health court on June 22, court records state. The warrant stemmed from a 2017 felony spousal abuse case, as well as arrests for misdemeanor child endangerment in 2018 and misdemeanor battery in 2019.

A criminal complaint in the rape case has not yet been filed, said Assistant District Attorney Chris Walsh.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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