San Diego Man Pleads Guilty to Beating Syrian Teen for Speaking Arabic
SOURCE: NY DAILY NEWS
BY: KATE FELDMAN
A California man sat down next to a teenage Syrian refugee on a trolley last month, then proceeded to assault him. Now, he could spend the next five years behind bars.
Adrian Richard Vergara, 26, pleaded guilty to assault and hate crime charges in San Diego Monday, almost a month after he shouted racial slurs at and repeatedly punched the teenager, who has not been publicly identified.
The teenager, a 17-year-old high school student, told police that Vergara sat down next to him on the Metropolitan Transit System trolley on Oct. 15 while he was FaceTiming a friend.
“What trash language are you speaking?” Vergara allegedly asked after ripping one of the boy’s earbuds our.
“I replied that it’s Arabic and he started screaming and cussing at me,” the teen previously told the San Diego Union-Tribune. “When I asked why he was shouting, he attacked me.”
The teenager said Vergara punched him in the left eye about six times, leaving him with cuts and bruises.
Days later, Vergara was arrested on an unrelated drug charge, at which point investigators recognized him as the attacker from the trolley security footage.
“There are many people who don’t know Arabs and Muslims and believe that we are violent,” the victim wrote in a statement to Fox 5. “However, I want to show that this is not true. When I was attacked, I could have fought back. However, I chose to stay calm and not fight back. I chose to follow the rules and file the police report in hopes of getting justice.”
He also urged others to “speak up and not stay silent.”
“It is important to seek justice when you experience a hate crime to ensure that such incidents don’t continue to happen in our community,” he wrote. “To all the people who are attacking our community: Don’t judge us without knowing us.”
Vergara is expected to be sentenced to five years in prison as part of his plea deal, according to KGTV.