A man who threatened an African-American Muslim couple while driving next to them in Portland last year pleaded no contest to two counts of second-degree intimidation Wednesday.
Frederick Sorrell yelled and made threatening gestures at the husband and wife from his car in May 2017, using a hand gesture to simulate a gun and repeatedly calling the victims terrorists, court documents say.
Sorrell also reportedly told the woman to take off her burka, shouted "This is America!" at her and followed the couple's car for 20 blocks.
The incident occurred near Northeast 102nd Avenue and Northeast Glisan Street.
Sorrell broke down outside a courtroom before his arraignment in July last year, claiming he yelled and made threatening gestures at the couple because he was scared.
"I've never seen a burqa before here in Portland," Sorrell told Fox 12 at the 2017 arraignment. "...I don't hate Muslims, I don't have anything against Muslims. I am just scared when I saw (it) like if I saw someone from the KKK."
The victims Wednesday said they were hoping for a trial and were disappointed by Sorrell's plea. The victims and Sorrell both gave statements.
“This feels like a cop-out,” the husband said. “This feels like a spineless act to save himself the public embarrassment that he’s already dragged himself through. I’m actually disappointed that the state doesn’t get to actually see the entirety of the ugliness of you that day.”
When it was his turn to speak, Sorrell apologized to the couple.
“I hope someday that you can accept my apology and see that maybe I’m a decent person because I’m going to learn from this,” he said.
He also used the opportunity to speak directly to the woman.
“I’m not going to let you and your husband down," he said. "I have to live with this shame and I deserve it.”
Sorrell will be sentenced in May, officials say. He could face up to two years in prison.
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