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Massachusetts man charged in alleged JFK hate crime

By Gina Martinez

A Massachusetts man has been charged with multiple hate crimes for allegedly attacking a Muslim Delta Airlines employee at John F. Kennedy airport last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said.

Robin Rhodes, 57, of Worcester, Mass., was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and charged with assault as a hate crime, harassment as a hate crime and unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, the DA said.

“The bigotry and hatred that the defendant is accused of manifesting and acting upon have no place in a civilized society – especially in Queens County, the most culturally diverse county in the nation,” Brown said. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”

According to the charges, a Delta employee who wears a hijab was sitting in her office in the Delta Sky Lounge in Terminal 2, between 7:10 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Jan. 25 when Rhodes, who was waiting for a connecting flight to Massachusettes, allegedly came up to the door and stated “Are you f—ing sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?”

Rhodes then allegedly punched the door, which hit the back of the victim’s chair, the criminal complaint said.

According to the charges, when the victim asked Rhodes what she did to him, he acknowledged that she had done nothing to him but then allegedly kicked her in the right leg, Brown said.

The victim moved to a corner of the office to get away from him. However, Rhodes allegedly kicked the door, stepped into the office and blocked her from leaving, Brown said.

When someone came to the office and tried to calm Rhodes down, Rhodes moved away from the door and the victim ran out of the office to the lounge’s front desk, Brown said. Rhodes allegedly followed her and and got down on his knees and began to bow down in imitation of a praying Muslim and shouted epithets about Islam and ISIS.

“Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens,” he said, according to the complaint.

The victim suffered substantial pain and redness in her right leg as a result of Rhodes’ alleged actions.

According to the complaint, as Rhodes was arrested he told officers “I guess I am going to jail for disorderly conduct. I couldn’t tell if it was a man or woman because their back was to me and they had something covering their head.”

Rhodes was ordered held on $50,000 bond/$30,000 cash bail and was set to return to court Feb. 8 . He faces up to four years in prison if convicted.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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