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Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault and extortion plot against teenage girl

Man pleads not guilty to sexual assault and extortion plot against teenage girl
Gaoyang “Gary” Li, 20, was arrested last month at Los Angeles International Airport while trying to board a flight to China, Irvine police said. (Courtesy of Orange County district attorney's office)

A man pleaded not guilty Thursday to felony counts 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.

Gaoyang “Gary” Li, a 20-year-old Chinese national, was arrested Feb. 22 at Los Angeles International Airport while trying to board a flight to China, the Irvine Police Department said.

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He was previously arrested Feb. 6 on the UC Irvine campus and was released from custody for further investigation, police said. His affiliation with the university was unclear.

Li pleaded not guilty last week to one count of oral copulation of a minor and a count of delivery of a threatening letter with intent to extort, according to court records.

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“Li is also suspected in another sexual battery case in the city of Irvine and an extortion case that occurred at UCI,” police said on Facebook.

Li also pleaded not guilty Thursday to threatening a second female in November with intent to extort, according to court documents.

Police received a report from a 16-year-old girl Jan. 29 that she had been sexually assaulted. She told police that she met Li on Tantan, a Chinese dating app, in September and agreed to meet him after they continued to communicate on the WeChat app.

When they met, the girl was forced to perform oral sex on Li, according to police and court records.

Authorities allege he then contacted her through WeChat demanding money and threatening to post a video of the sex act on social media and distribute it to her friends and family.

Li was booked into Orange County Jail with bail set at $1 million. He is scheduled back in court March 15.

Irvine police detectives believe there may be other victims in the case and asked anyone with information to contact Det. Gavin Hudson at (949) 724-7168 or ghudson@cityofirvine.org.

Los Angeles Times staff writer Hannah Fry contributed to this report.

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