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Man charged in alleged sexual assault, extortion plot involving Irvine girl, 16

Man charged in alleged sexual assault, extortion plot involving Irvine girl, 16
Gaoyang "Gary" Li, 20, is facing three felony counts in connection with an alleged sexual assault and extortion plot in Irvine. (Irvine Police Department)

A 20-year-old man was charged this week with three felonies based on allegations that he forced an Irvine teenager to perform a sex act on him and then threatened to release video of the incident in an extortion plot.

Prosecutors charged Gaoyang “Gary” Li with one count of oral copulation of a person under 18 and two counts of delivery of a threatening letter with intent to extort. He has not entered a plea, according to Orange County Superior Court records.

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Irvine police began investigating Li in late January when a 16-year-old girl reported that she had been sexually assaulted. She told police that she met Li on Tan Tan, a Chinese dating app, in September and agreed to meet him after they continued to communicate on the WeChat app.

Police said Li contacted the girl in late January through the dating app and when they met, forced the girl to perform oral sex. He then threatened to post a video of the incident on social media and send it to the teen’s friends and family unless she sent him money, authorities allege.

Police arrested Li on the UC Irvine campus on Feb. 6. It is not clear whether he is a student at the university.

He was released from custody two days later because no formal charges were filed against him. Detectives continued to investigate the case and arrested Li a second time at Los Angeles International Airport on Friday. Authorities said he was attempting to flee to China.

Li is being held in Orange County Jail in lieu of $1-million bail. He is expected to appear in court Thursday, according to jail records.

Irvine police are also investigating Li in connection with another alleged sexual assault and are looking for other possible victims. Anyone with information is asked to contact Det. Gavin Hudson at (949) 724-7168 or ghudson@cityofirvine.org.

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