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Press Release

Santa Cruz Man Charged with Federal Hate Crime for Attempting to Stab Black Man

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN FRANCISCO – Ole Hougen has been charged with a federal hate crime for attacking a black man with a knife on a street in Santa Cruz, announced U.S. Attorney David L. Anderson, Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband for the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, and FBI Special Agent in Charge John L. Bennett.

Hougen, 44, of Santa Cruz, Calif., 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.  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.   

Hougen is charged with violating Title 18, United States Code, Section 249. 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 United States 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.

Updated September 29, 2020

Violent Crime