Man charged with hate crime in alleged sexual assault at San Jose Caltrain station

A 32-year-old man has been formally charged with a hate crime following the alleged sexual assault of an Asian woman at a San Jose Caltrain station earlier this week. 

The Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said the suspect, Johan Strydom, grabbed the woman by the neck at the Diridon train station, pulled her to the ground, and tossed her from side to side by her hair. 

During the incident, Strydom told the woman, "F- you Asians," the district attorney's office said, adding he intended to rape her. 

"Hate crimes are not someone else's problem," said District Attorney Jeff Rosen. "They're not happening in someone else's community, some distant period. These hate incidents and hate crimes are happening right here and right now."

In court Friday, Strydom became emotional and wept as a prosecutor outlined the hateful comments he allegedly made to the woman. She was on the phone with her boyfriend at the time of the attack. 

The victim named Tiffany, a 26-year-old medical worker from San Jose, detailed the alleged hate crime and assault that occurred Wednesday morning. 

Tiffany, who did not want to share her last name, said she is still shaken up over the unprovoked attack.

"I’ve never seen him in my life," said Tiffany. "I’ve never seen him at the station."

At 6:30 a.m., Tiffany was on her way to work in Palo Alto and poised to board a train. She said she was inside the tunnel when a man, later identified as Strydom, approached her from behind, grabbed her neck, pulled her hair, and started cursing.

"He was saying f-u, f-u Asian, this is completely bull," Tiffany recalled. "All while he was keeping me on the ground with his grip on my hair.

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Screaming throughout the attack, bystanders yelled at him to let her go. 

Booking photo of the suspect, 32-year-old Johan Strydom.

The attacker tried to flee, but one bystander stayed with Strydom until transit police arrived. Caltrain called it an isolated incident.

"It’s scary, it’s something we don't want to happen," said Victoria O’Brien, Caltrain Deputy Director of Safety and Security. "We are fortunate the victim was not injured physically."

Rosen said, "This attack is every woman's nightmare, and this attack is our community's nightmare. But we can also find hope and heroism in this horrific incident."

Tiffany caught up with the suspect and took video of him. "You see? This guy right here. He attacked me at the Caltrain and he's laughing," she says in the video. "Never in my life did I think I would be attacked."

Tiffany isn't sure why he attacked her for her ethnicity, because she was female and alone.

"He just seemed angry," said Tiffany.

Tiffany wanted to speak up and stand up against hate. She hopes justice will be served.

"It should not be something that’s common and continuously happen in our Asian community," said Tiffany.

Caltrain Board Chair and San Jose City Council Member, Devora Davis, released a statement about the attack on Friday. 

"Caltrain has zero tolerance for hate, racism, and xenophobia. Especially in our diverse region, our transit system is a place where all people should be safe," Davis said.

Strydom was charged with a hate crime and assault with intent to commit rape. Police said in court records that he indicated he was "sex deprived."