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Press Release

Cincinnati man pleads guilty to committing federal hate crime by physically assaulting Asian American student based on race

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio
Defendant made statements about COVID & ‘kung flu’ during the assault

CINCINNATI – A Cincinnati man pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court here today to committing a federal hate crime by physically assaulting a victim based on the victim’s race.

Darrin Johnson, 27, admitted to physically attacking an Asian American victim on Calhoun Street at the University of Cincinnati on Aug. 17, 2021.

“I remain steadfast in the belief that hate has no place in our society,” said U.S. Attorney Kenneth L. Parker. “We will continue to use our federal law enforcement authority to investigate and prosecute hate crimes like the one committed by Johnson.”

According to court documents, Johnson made racist comments toward the victim, including, “Go back to your country…You brought the kung flu here…You’re going to die for bringing it.”

After threatening to kill the victim, Johnson punched the victim on the side of his head. The force of the punch caused the victim to fall and hit his head on the bumper of a parked car. Johnson continued his attack on the victim, who was bleeding on the ground, until two bystanders intervened and restrained Johnson.

The victim suffered multiple injuries, including an orbital contusion, facial lacerations and acute head injury.       

In October 2021, Johnson pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and criminal intimidation for the incident and was sentenced to serve 360 days in county jail.

Johnson was indicted by a federal grand jury in November 2022.

The parties involved in this case have recommended a sentence of up to 22 months in prison.

Kenneth L. Parker, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Cheryl Mimura, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, announced the guilty plea entered today before Senior U.S. District Judge Susan J. Dlott. Assistant United States Attorney Megan Gaffney Painter is representing the United States in this case.

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Updated February 28, 2024

Hate Crimes