Charge: Man attacked Arab students on Seattle bus

SEATTLE -- A man accused of shouting anti-Arab slurs at two college students on a Metro bus in Seattle now faces hate crime charges.

King County prosecutors contend Andrew Belasco berated the men on a Route 1 bus on Jan. 4. Belasco, 50, is alleged to have punched one of the men during the unprompted altercation.

Just after 10 p.m., the men boarded at South Jackson Street and Fourth Avenue South near Pioneer Square. According to charging documents, Belasco accosted the Saudi Arabian students almost immediately, threatening to sexually assault one man's mother while telling both to leave the United States.

Told by the bus driver to leave the coach, Belasco punched one of the men in the chest, a King County Sheriff's Office detective said in court papers. Belasco then left the bus; he was arrested hiding behind an SUV.

Deputies found Belasco appeared to have been drinking and smelled of alcohol. According to charging papers, Belasco admitted to attacking the men.

"Without any questioning from (the deputy), Belasco stated he didn't like 'gays' and he didn't want to have sex with 'two guys' on the bus," the detective told the court. "Belasco further told (the deputy) he punched (the man) because (he) was a 'gay Arab' and Belasco added he 'didn't believe in that.'"

Belasco, whose listed address is in Rice, a town in Stevens County, even though he appears to live and work in King County, has been charged with malicious harassment, the state's hate crime law. He remains jailed on $50,000 bail.