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FBI Looking Into Assault Of Muslim Woman At Bloomington Restaurant
Updated October 20, 2015 8:32 AM | Filed under: Crime
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(BLOOMINGTON) - A report of a weekend assault of a Muslim woman outside a downtown Turkish restaurant by an Indiana University student has sparked investigations with Bloomington police, the Monroe County prosecutor's office and IU's Dean of Students Office and the FBI.

Indiana University sophomore psychology major 19-year-old Triceten Derrick Bickford of Fort Wayne faces felony charges of strangulation, battery on a police officer and two counts of intimidation. He also faces misdemeanor charges of battery and two counts of battery by bodily waste.

A 47-year-old Muslim woman and her 9-year-old daughter were sitting at an outdoor table at Sofra Cafe at 340 S. Walnut St., Saturday evening. The woman told police Bickford emerged from an alley and shouted racial epithets, including "white power," "kill the police," and a derogatory term for black people, according to a probable cause affidavit on the case.

The woman told police Bickford grabbed her by the back of her neck and squeezed hard as he forced her face down toward the table. She said he also pulled at her headscarf with his other hand, causing the scarf to constrict her breathing, the affidavit states. The woman's husband and a male passerby pulled Bickford off the woman and restrained him on the ground until police arrived. Bickford continued to threaten the men and spit on them. Police had to use restraints to transport a "disorderly" Bickford to the jail because he tried to kick out the windows of the squad car. Once at the jail, he reportedly bit an officer in the right calf. Bickford's blood-alcohol level was 0.195 percent, more than twice the legal limit.

Bickford was released from the jail Sunday after posting a $2,000 cash bond. An initial hearing in Monroe Circuit Court has been scheduled for Friday afternoon.

IU Provost Lauren Robel instructed the Dean of Students Office to conduct its own investigation.

"Indiana University is aware of the horrifying incident involving one of our students and a member of the Bloomington Muslim community over the weekend. This type of abhorrent behavior is not representative of our students, nor of the culture of inclusion and tolerance so many people at the university and in the Bloomington community have worked so hard to foster," university spokesman Mark Land stated in a release to the media.

Indiana does not have hate or bias crime penalty or enhancements in its criminal code.

"In the absence of anything specific related to hate or bias, the laws are still adequate in addressing the criminal act or behavior of the perpetrator even though the laws might not address the motivation behind the criminal act or behavior. It's still reasonable for us to investigate whether it's hate or bias related because it might rise to the level of federal intervention should they be interested or the incident is so egregious that federal laws apply and they need to seek federal prosecution," Bloomington police Capt. Joe Qualters stated in an email.

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