A Dearborn man who punched an unsuspecting Muslim woman wearing a hijab while she checked into a Dearborn hospital was only charged with a misdemeanor and released from jail on time served after less than 90 days. He also served part about one-third of the sentence on a tether.
The incident occurred on Feb. 10 and the attacker, 57-year-old John Deliz, was released from jail and the tether in May after pleading guilty to misdemeanor assault. But some feel the charges were too light and the sentence too short.
Video from a Beaumont Hospital security camera shows the victim, a 19-year-old woman, checking into the hospital at a desk in the lobby. Deliz walks from behind and begins pummeling her, and Beaumont staffers quickly rush to her aid and detain the man.
The assault made international news, but no outlets followed up on the criminal case. Metro Times learned of the sentence and checked city of Dearborn Police Department records which confirmed Deliz was only charged with a misdemeanor. City attorneys say that’s because the victim wasn’t seriously injured.
The misdemeanor assault charge carries a 93-day maximum — which 19th District Court Judge Mark Sommers handed down — though records appear to indicate that he was released several days early for good behavior.
The decision to only charge Deliz with a misdemeanor was made by the Dearborn Police and Dearborn city attorneys, not the Wayne County Prosecutors’ Office, which handles felonies.
Dawud Walid, executive director of Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan, says he was disappointed by the charges, which he called a “slap on the wrist.”
“The message this sends is that if any old random white guy wants to assault a Muslim woman, but doesn’t supposedly cause that much harm, then they’ll get a slap on the wrist,” he says.
City of Dearborn attorneys Bradley Mendelsohn and Debra Walling tell Metro Times that someone must be seriously injured or the attacker must use a weapon for an assault to rise to the level of a felony. In this case, Deliz used his fists, and the victim didn’t report serious injury.
The attorneys say Deliz wasn’t charged with a hate crime because there was, “No indication that this was anything other than a random, indiscriminate assault by someone who was mentally ill.”
“He didn’t say anything, he didn’t do anything that was in any way reported that suggested that there was any discriminatory intent involved,” Walling says, noting that Deliz underwent a mental competency test, but was found fit to stand trial.
Walid questioned why, if the man is insane, he wasn’t given mental health treatment instead of a light jail sentence. He also notes the likelihood that Deliz would’ve received a much stiffer penalty had he been African-American.
The victim is also suing the hospital, and her attorney, Majed Moughni, says he was surprised by the short sentence and light charge. He tells Metro Times the lawsuit is still in discovery.
Though prosecutors say this wasn’t a hate crime, hate crimes against Muslims sharply increased since President Donald Trump took office. A 2017 Metro Times cover story charted the year of anti-Muslim crimes and incidents in Michigan.