Man charged with hate crime after hitting Asian American woman with pool cue

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A New York man has been charged with a hate crime after attacking an Asian American woman in Grand Island, outside of Buffalo.

Charles Vacanti, 46, allegedly yelled racist slurs at the woman before hitting her in the face with a pool cue at a bar on March 19 around 4 a.m.

The victim received stitches for a cut to her upper lip and suffered from pain and swelling to her nose and mouth, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. A temporary order of protection was issued on behalf of the victim, the report said.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn announced at a news conference last week that Vacanti was arraigned on one count of assault in the second degree as a hate crime and one count of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree.

Frank LoTempio, Vacanti's lawyer, denied any wrongdoing.

“My client vehemently denies, first of all, any assault or anything of that nature, and certainly any indication or allegation of a hate crime,” he said.

Vacanti was arrested April 20 after witnesses and employees at the bar helped lead investigators to him, Erie County Sheriff John Garcia said during the presser.

Five witnesses at the bar said they saw Vacanti leave after the incident, Garcia said.

Garcia declined to comment on how the incident started.

“They did not know each other. Now how they came about the altercation, that’s something I’d rather not comment on right now. What I could tell you is, prior to the defendant striking the victim, he did use some racial slurs and then struck the victim,” he said.

The Erie County Sheriff’s office declined to offer further comment.

The attack came a month after research spearheaded by the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum revealed that 74 percent of Asian American and Pacific Islander women reported having personally experienced racism or discrimination in the last 12 months.