SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A San Francisco man has been arrested on hate-crime charges after he allegedly sexually assaulted an Asian woman as she waited for a morning commuter train in San Jose.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office charged 32-year-old Johan Strydom with assault with an intent to commit rape and assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury. Prosecutors have added hate crime enhancements to the charges.READ MORE: Vandals Smear Chauvin Defense Witness' Former Santa Rosa Home With Pig's Blood
“As the stranger attacked her, he said to her — and I’m not going to use the full words — ‘F*** you Asians!’ several times,” says District Attorney Jeff Rosen at a press conference following the court appearance.
The attack happened around 7 a.m. on Wednesday. A 26-year-old woman on her way to work, was waiting for a delayed northbound Caltrain in a pedestrian tunnel at the Diridon Station. She was on the phone with her boyfriend.
Strydom – who she did not know – allegedly came up from behind her, grabbed her neck, pulled her to the ground and tossed her side to side by her hair. She landed on her back, screaming, as he dragged her while repeating the slur — “(expletive deleted) you, Asians.”
The minute-long attack lasted until her boyfriend rushed to the station and other witnesses came to the woman’s aid, preventing him from getting away.
As he made his way to the bus stop, the suspect repeated the ethnic slur and said, “You guys gonna come and save that ho?”
San Jose police officers arrested the suspect minutes later near the SAP Center.READ MORE: After a Night of Protest Vandalism, Oakland Businesses Pick Up the Pieces
“This is every woman’s nightmare, and this is our community’s nightmare,” District Attorney Jeff Rosen said. “This is also a tale of heroism. Our community came to this woman’s aid and stopped the attack. Hate crimes are not someone else’s problem. They are mine. They are yours. It will take all of us to confront them.”
Strydom lowered his head and appeared to become emotional as prosecutor described in graphic detail to alleged assault. His defense attorney, Meghan Piano, said her client suffered from both homelessness and serious mental health issues.
“His response in court was quite genuine. And he does feel sadness for what he heard read in court today,” Piano said.
Prosecutors successfully argued that Strydom was a risk to the public and should remain behind bars until his next court appearance. The victim did not appear in court, but prosecutors read a statement on her behalf to the judge.
“To have the constant fear of walking through those tunnels. The constant fear of me possibly being followed and possibly being attacked again. No one should have to go through what I went through,” says prosecutor Jing Lan Lee, reading an excerpt of the victim’s statement.
Caltrain Board Chair and San Jose City Council Member Devora ‘Dev’ Davis, released a statement Friday afternoon in response to the attack at San Jose Diridon Station and “the increasing and escalating acts of violence targeting Asians and Asian-Americans.”MORE NEWS: Stimulus Check Latest: Is A Fourth Relief Payment Coming?
“Caltrain has zero tolerance for hate, racism, and xenophobia. Especially in our diverse region, our transit system is a place where all people should be safe,” Davis said in the statement. “Caltrain is thankful to our Transit Police and Allied Universal, our contract security, for their swift response to this issue.”