Anti-Asian E-Mail Was Hate Crime, Jury Finds
honig at otc.net
Wed Feb 11 11:33:46 PST 1998
Wednesday, February 11, 1998
Anti-Asian E-Mail Was Hate Crime, Jury Finds
Internet: Ex-UCI student Richard Machado is found to have
rights with threatening messages.
By DAVAN MAHARAJ, Times Staff Writer
SANTA ANA--In the nation's first successful
a hate crime on the Internet, an expelled university
was found guilty Tuesday of violating the civil rights of
students at UC Irvine by sending e-mail threats to kill
them if they
didn't leave the school.
Prosecutors hailed the verdict in the retrial of
Richard J. Machado as a victory for federal authorities
police the Internet to deter hatemongers and racist groups.
"This verdict shows that high-tech hate is not going
tolerated," said Assistant U.S. Atty. Michael J. Gennaco,
prosecuted the case. "A line does have to be drawn in the
cyberspace. If you cross that line and threaten people,
going to be subject to criminal penalties."
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for
less than a
day before finding Machado guilty of interfering with
to attend a public university. Jurors deadlocked 9 to 3
in favor of
conviction on a second, identical count.
Machado displayed no emotion when the verdict was read
Tuesday afternoon. His first trial ended in a mistrial in
with jurors deadlocked 9 to 3 in favor of acquittal.
Because his conviction carries a maximum sentence of
in prison and he has already served more time than that
Machado could be set free as early as Friday, when he
sentencing before U.S. District Judge Alicemarie H.
Gennaco, who heads the civil rights division of the
attorney's office in Los Angeles, downplayed Machado's
"What we've taken from this case is a deterrent
people can't get on the Internet and send threats to
Gennaco hinted that prosecutors would now be more
step in and prosecute computer users who stalk or
"We have a number of ongoing investigations regarding
allegations of threats on the Internet," Gennaco said.
"Now we have
some guidance from 12 people that the government can step
enforce laws on the Internet."
Machado's trial--and retrial--had been seen as a
To prosecute Machado, prosecutors turned to civil
enacted in the 1960s that were designed to prevent
from standing in the way of school desegregation.
Machado violated students' civil rights, prosecutors
when he hunched over a computer in UCI's engineering
Sept. 20, 1996, and sent an anonymous e-mail message to
60 mainly Asian students.
The message, signed "Asian Hater," warned that all
should leave UC Irvine or the sender would "hunt all of
and kill your stupid asses."
"I personally will make it my [life's work] to find
and kill every
one of you personally. OK? That's how determined I am. Do
Apparently thinking the first one didn't get
sent the same message twice, and school officials quickly
messages to him after they received complaints.
The e-mail incensed and upset some students,
of Asian descent, who constitute nearly half of UC
students, the highest percentage of any UC school.
Several students testified that they were petrified
by the e-mail.
They armed themselves with pepper spray, refused to go
at night and became suspicious of strangers.
The defense called other students who testified that
angry over the message but later shrugged it off as a bad
During the trial, defense lawyers depicted Machado as a
disturbed teenager who became distraught and flunked out
after his eldest brother was murdered in Los Angeles.
When he sent the threatening e-mail, Machado was no
UCI student, but he was too ashamed to tell his immigrant
according to Deputy Federal Public Defender Sylvia
Machado testified at both trials that one of his
drive him to UCI each day even after he had been
he passed his days in the computer laboratory, sending and
receiving e-mail and surfing the Internet until it was
time to go home.
On the day he sent the e-mail, Machado testified, he
and wanted to start a "dialogue" with people who were
signed on to
the school's computer network.
Some attorneys, including Machado's defense team,
whether charges should have been filed against the former
Torres-Guillen even called an expert witness in
etiquette, who described Machado's e-mail as "a classic
flame"--online lingo for an angry message that, while
not meant to be harmful.
But Gennaco contended that Machado hated Asians because
they got better grades than he did.
In his rebuttal case, the prosecutor called a
University of South
Carolina freshman and another computer user in Denver who
testified that Machado referred to Asians as "chinks"
chatted with them in cyberspace.
The witnesses contradicted Machado's testimony that
used derogatory terms for Asians.
Gennaco said prosecutors may suggest that Machado
racial awareness program as part of his sentence.
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Copyright Los Angeles Times
David Honig Orbit Technology
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