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Man sexually assaults woman in retaliation for Anti-Asian crimes

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Irving Police

A 37-year-old man has been arrested after he allegedly attempted to sexually assault a woman he believed to be white, in retaliation for Anti-Asian crimes.

The incident occurred in Irvine, California near Harvard Avenue and Coronado Street last week.

Officials say the victim was sitting in her car around 1:30 p.m. when the suspect Michael Sangbong Rhee, approached her vehicle with a handgun and demanded that she get in the back of the vehicle. The victim then offered him her wallet but Rhee replied that they would “do that later,” and continued forcing the victim into the backseat of her car.

Once the victim was in the backseat, Rhee than began sexually assaulting her. The victim began struggling and managed to get the attention of a nearby maintenance worker.

Rhee then fled the scene through an apartment community and drove away in his vehicle.

Investigators later discovered his identity after a surveillance camera captured his license plate as he fled the area.

Officials tracked him down to his home in Lake Forest and arrested him upon finding additional evidence that he was behind the sexual assault.

During a police interview, Rhee admitted to the assault and reported that he wanted to assault a “white” woman in retaliation for Anti-Asian crimes.

Authorities reported that though the victim appeared to be “white” she was actually Asian herself.

He has been booked into the Orange County jail for kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault. His bail costs $1 million.

Authorities also report that Rhee is expected to face hate crime charges.