NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Massachusetts man stood charged Thursday with attacking a Muslim airline employee at the Delta Sky Lounge at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The Queens District Attorney’s office said Robin A. Rhodes, of Worcester, Massachusetts, was charged with assault, unlawful imprisonment, menacing and harassment as hate crimes, among other counts, in the incident Wednesday night.
“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,” Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said in a news release. “Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here and when they do, regrettably occur, those responsible will be brought to justice.”
Prosecutors said Delta employee Rabeeya Khan, who wears a hijab, was sitting in her office in the Delta Sky Lounge at Terminal 2 at JFK between 7:10 p.m. and 9:45 p.m. Wednesday, while Rhodes awaited a connecting flight back to Massachusetts after arriving on a flight from Aruba.
Rhodes came up to the door and said: “Are you [expletive] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?” prosecutors alleged. He then allegedly punched the door, which hit the back of Khan’s chair, prosecutors said.
Khan asked Rhodes what she did to him, prosecutors said. He replied, “You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive] ass,” prosecutors said.
Rhodes then allegedly kicked Khan in the right leg, prosecutors said. Khan moved to a corner of the office in an effort to get away, but Rhodes allegedly kicked in the door, stepped into the office and blocked Khan from leaving, prosecutors said.
Someone else came over to the office and tried to calm Rhodes down, and at that point, he moved away from the door, prosecutors said. Khan ran out of the office to the front desk of the lounge, prosecutors said.
But Rhodes allegedly followed her, got onto his knees, and bowed down in a mockery of a Muslim praying, prosecutors said. He allegedly shouted: “[Expletive] Islam, [expletive] 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.”
Khan suffered substantial pain and redness in her right leg and was left in fear and alarm, prosecutors said.
When he was arrested, Rhodes allegedly told police: “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 awaiting arraignment in Queens Criminal Court late Thursday and could face up to four years in prison if convicted, prosecutors said.