Suspect in Penn Valley park rape being sought |

Suspect in Penn Valley park rape being sought

Christopher Smith

Law enforcement says it continues to search for a Grass Valley man accused of raping an 18 year old at Western Gateway Park on Friday.

According to a press release issued by the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office, the Penn Valley woman reported having been sexually assaulted at the park by a man she had befriended earlier in the day.

Sgt. Mike Sullivan said the incident is being investigated as a rape.

“Upon receiving the initial report, patrol deputies immediately met with the victim to ensure her safety and document the incident,” sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Trygg said in the release. “The report was then forwarded to our detectives in the Major Crimes Unit for further investigation and follow-up.”

The suspect was identified as Christopher John Smith, 31, of Grass Valley, Trygg said. Smith is described as being 6 feet tall, weighing 186 pounds, with brown hair and blue eyes.

Smith 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.

Throughout the weekend, detectives in the Major Crimes Unit and the Special Investigations Unit actively searched for Smith and have conducted additional interviews, Trygg said. As of Tuesday afternoon, Smith had not been located.

The Sheriff’s Office urged anyone who might have witnessed the assault or have first-hand knowledge about Smith’s location to contact Detective Josephine Strachan at 530-265-1594 or via email:

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

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