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California Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime for Attempting to Stab Black Man

Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Civil Rights Division, and U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson for the Northern District of California, and Special Agent in Charge Jack Bennett for the FBI San Francisco Division announced today that a California man has been charged with a federal hate crime for attacking a black man with a knife on a street in Santa Cruz, California.

Ole Hougen, 44, of Santa Cruz, California, was charged by criminal complaint with willfully attempting to cause bodily injury by using a dangerous weapon because of a person’s actual or perceived race and color, in violation of Title 18, U.S. Code, Section 249.  

According to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, Hougen confronted a 29-year-old black man who was crossing a street in Santa Cruz. Hougen took out a nine-inch knife and slashed at the man’s head, chest, and stomach multiple times while yelling racial slurs at him. At the time of the attack, Hougen was on probation for state convictions involving a racially-motivated assault on a different black man in 2018. The complaint also describes two additional racially-motivated assaults against black men committed by Hougen in 2014 and 2018.

The charge in the complaint is merely an allegation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. Hougen faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison if convicted.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Marissa Harris and Trial Attorney Michael J. Songer of the Civil Rights Division are prosecuting the case on behalf of the government. The FBI conducted the investigation with the assistance of the Santa Cruz Police Department.