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Man pleads not guilty in Chula Vista courthouse to one count of felony battery and hate crime allegations

DA files hate crime against a man who allegedly hurled homophobic slurs while attacking a neighbor and hung an anti-semitic banner on an Interstate 805 overpass
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A man charged with one count of felony battery and hate crime allegations pleaded not guilty on Monday in a Chula Vista courtroom. 

The San Diego District Attorney announced Robert Frank Wilson, 40, pleaded not guilty to a Nov.10 assault during his arraignment at the South Bay San Diego Superior Court. Prosecutors say Wilson blocked his neighbors driveway on Nov.10, got out of his vehicle, began yelling homophobic slurs at the victim. Wilson reached into the window of the victim’s vehicle and struck him in the face, according to prosecutors.

The San Diego Police Department cited Wilson approximately five weeks after the incident for working with a group of people to hang an anti-semitic poster on Interstate 805 overpass which violates San Diego City Municipal code. 

“This case and these events demonstrate that those who are motivated by prejudice often spread their hate around to various groups, attacking our neighbors on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, or other grounds,” DA Summer Stephan said. 

Wilson could face up to three years and six months in prison if convicted, according to the District Attorney. 

“Hate against one group is a threat to everyone and we won’t tolerate these crimes in our community. Anyone considering committing a hate crime should think again as they will be investigated, prosecuted, and held accountable under the law,” Stephan said. 

Wilson will next be in court on January 5 for a readiness hearing. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for January 19.\

In a statement, the DA’s office reports the number of hate crime cases tripled in recent years. In 2020, the DA’s office prosecuted 21 cases and 30 cases just within this year. 

Thousands of Asian Americans in the United States have been victimized by hate crimes since the beginning of COVID-19 which originated in the region of Wuhan in eastern China. Xenophobic rhetoric and bigoted references have been used by former President Donald Trump, politicians, and media commentators in referencing COVID-19.

In response to these hate-related incidents aimed at the Asian American community nationwide, the DA’s office announced a new online form and hotline where members of the public may report hate crimes they suspect, witness, or are a victim in San Diego County. 

The online reporting form can be found on the District Attorney’s website here. The Hate Crimes Hotline number is 619-515-8805.