Man charged with kicking, yelling at Muslim Delta employee
NEW YORK — A traveler is accused of going on a racist tirade at John F. Kennedy Airport, yelling threatening slurs and kicking a Muslim Delta employee in the leg.
Robin Rhodes, 57, who was returning in January from a trip to Aruba, was indicted Thursday on charges of unlawful imprisonment and aggravated harassment in the incident. He also faces hate crime charges.
According to Queens District Attorney Richard Brown, Rhodes was waiting for a connecting flight to Worcester, Massachusetts, when he entered the Delta Sky Lounge at JFK. He came up to the office of the employee, who has not been identified, and said, “Are you [expletive deleted] sleeping? Are you praying? What are you doing?”
According to the criminal complaint, Rhodes punched the door, which hit the back of the employee’s chair. The employee asked Rhodes what she had done to him and he replied, “You did nothing but I am going to kick your [expletive deleted] ass,” the complaint said.
Rhodes then kicked the employee in the leg, according to the complaint.
Brown said the employee attempted to get away, but Rhodes persisted, kicking the door and stepping into her office and blocking her from escaping.
Another person, also not identified, tried to calm Rhodes and moved him away from the door. The employee ran out of the office to the lounge’s front desk.
Rhodes allegedly followed the employee, at one point getting down on his knees, bowing down in imitation of a Muslim praying.
He shouted, “[Expletive] Islam, [expletive] ISIS, Trump is here now. He will get rid of all of you. You can ask Germany, Belgium and France about these kind of people. You will see what happens.”
A call to Rhodes was not immediately returned.
A woman who answered the phone at the office of Rhodes’ attorney, Paul Goldberger, said they do not comment on pending litigation.
According to the charges, the victim suffered substantial pain and redness in her right leg and was placed in fear of physical injury, annoyance and alarm.
After reports of the attack, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed the Transportation Worker Protection Act, which would make any assault against an airport worker a felony, punishable by a maximum of seven years in prison.
Rhodes was released on $50,000 bond and ordered to return to court in June.
He faces up to four years in prison.