A San Francisco man was arrested and charged with a hate crime for attacking and sexually assaulting a Filipina American woman in a Caltrain station in San Jose last week, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office said.
The victim, a 26-year-old Filipina medical worker named Tiffany who didn’t want her last name released, told KTVU that she was on her way to work in Palo Alto when she took the Caltrain at San Jose’s Diridon Station on Wednesday, March 10 at around 6:30 a.m.
The suspect, a 32-year-old white man named Johan Strydom, allegedly grabbed the Filipina by her neck, pulled her to the ground and threw the woman by her hair. The district attorney’s office said that he told Tiffany, “F*ck you, Asian,” and that Strydom intended to rape her.
“I’ve never seen him in my life,” Tiffany later told officials. “I’ve never seen him at the station.”
While Strydom was attacking Tiffany, bystanders at the train station were yelling at him to stop and let her go. The victim’s boyfriend had been on the phone with her at the time of the attack and reportedly showed up at the scene where he and other witnesses detained Strydom.
In a video that Tiffany took of the suspect after the attack, witnesses followed the suspect to try to apprehend him and he laughed, uttered another racial slur and said, “You guys gonna come and save that h*e?”
Shortly after, officers arrested Strydom near the SAP Center, San Jose police said.
Strydom was arraigned on Friday, March 12 and charged with “assault with force likely to cause great bodily injury” and “assault with an intent to commit rape and assault” with hate crime enhancements. If convicted, he will face prison time.
“A hate crime against a Filipino woman is an attack against all of us,” Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a press release. “This is every woman’s nightmare, and this is our community’s nightmare. 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.”
At the arraignment, the read description of the attack made Strydom emotional and cry, according to reports. His attorney, a deputy public defender named Meghan Piano, noted that Strydom suffers from mental illness and that he was “sex deprived.”
The attack on Wednesday further highlights the disturbing uptick in crimes and violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in recent weeks.
The Stop AAPI Hate tracker — which has been documenting the rise in anti-Asian racism and assaults for the last 12 months — reported on Tuesday, March 16 that there were at least 503 anti-Asian hate incidents between Jan. 1 and Feb. 28 alone. In 2020, there were a total of 3,292 reports.
“I hope that we as a community help stop all the violent racial crimes against us,” Tiffany told NextShark. “That even shouting out at [an attacker] can make a huge difference in saving a life. No one deserves to go through what I’ve gone through or all those that were assaulted. To not be afraid to call law enforcement because they are there to help and protect us.”
Strydom is currently being held without bail and will enter a plea in May.