SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A 45-year-old Santa Cruz man has been sentenced to 6 years in federal prison for committing a federal hate crime in connection with stabbing a Black man 10-20 times while yelling the racial slurs during a vicious assault with a knife on a city street in 2020.
Ole Hougen was convicted of the crime on April 9 and was sentenced on Thursday.
According to evidence presented at trial, Hougen confronted a 29-year-old Black man who was crossing the street in Santa Cruz.
Hougen began screaming racial slurs at him and then brandished a nine-inch knife and slashed multiple times at the man’s head, chest and stomach, while yelling the racial slurs. A witness testified that Hougen slashed and stabbed at the victim’s head and chest approximately 10-20 times.
At the time of the attack, Hougen was on probation after pleading no contest to state charges that he committed a racially motivated assault on a different Black man in 2018.
The trial also included evidence of several other incidents where Hougen threatened or committed violent acts while yelling racial slurs. The conviction was for Hougen’s fourth known racially motivated attack against Black men in the last seven years.
A federal grand jury indicted Hougen on Nov. 17, 2020, charging him with a violation of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. It is the first conviction and sentencing in the Northern District of California under the Shepard-Byrd Act, which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.
“Racially motivated violent attacks cannot be tolerated in any society,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Stephanie Hinds. “The Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act provides significant penalties for violence motivated by racism and other group-hate.”
“Racially motivated crimes have no place in our society,” added Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This defendant has attacked at least four people because they are Black, and for his most recent racially motivated attack of a Black man the defendant has been convicted.
When announcing his sentence from the bench, Federal Judge Edward J. Davila stated that it was “profoundly wrong to attack someone because of their race” and told Hougen to use his time in prison to “remove the hate from his heart.”
In addition to the prison term, Davila also sentenced Hougen to a three-year term of supervised release. Hougen will begin serving his prison term immediately.