Trial date set for alleged attack on Muslim woman in Kettering

A Sept. 20 trial date has been set in the case involving a Kettering man who allegedly committed a physical and verbal attack on a Muslim woman in a Meijer store on Wilmington Pike.

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Albert Ross, 48, of Kettering has been charged with simple assault, a first-degree misdemeanor, for an incident that happened at 2:45 p.m. on Feb. 23, in the Meijer store on Wilmington Pike. Ross allegedly physically and verbally attacked a 25-year-old Muslim woman, who is a Kettering resident, while his wife was with him. She was not charged.

Members of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Ohio) want the simple assault case also designated as a hate crime.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

The attorney for Ross, Springfield-based Michael Cantanzaro, told the Dayton Daily News on Wednesday that his client is not the racist or hatemonger that he is being portrayed as.

“My client is a very unbiased individual and is non-racist. He is an Army veteran,” Cantanzaro said. “He served in Afghanistan and Bosnia and he did volunteer work to help Muslims who were being prosecuted over there by other Muslims. He did that after he got done with his tour of duties.”

Cantanzaro is the third attorney on the case for Ross, but he said he has a unique perspective with his representation because he knows his client’s family well.

“I have known this Ross family for years and that whole family is a good family and all of them are good people,” he said. “The VFW he’s in has Muslims, and a whole mix of people and he’s friends with everybody. He doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. The incident was all a misunderstanding.”

Cantanzaro said that the facts will show that his client is innocent and the lack of evidence will show that he didn’t commit a simple assault or a hate crime.

“There apparently was a video and now they don’t have one,” he said. “That would have told us everything. They don’t have a parking lot video and they don’t have a video inside the store. I don’t think there is a witness.”

MORE: Group wants Kettering assault case charged as hate crime

Ross has offered to sit down with the alleged victim making the accusation and have a mediation session, but Cantanzaro said that his efforts to get the other side to the table have not worked.

“CAIR wants a hate crime charged,” he said. “The prosecutor and the judge pretty much have their hands tied and they have done a great job of trying to get this resolved. A hate crime is the farthest from my client’s mind.”

CAIR-Ohio’s Cincinnati staff attorney, Sana Hassan, said everything in this case suggests a hate motivated crime and feels that no mediation is possible because of the circumstances she feels is involved with the situation.

“Law enforcement did a really good job investigating this case,” Hassan explained. “The police used surveillance video to identify the assailants. There were witnesses to this crime and the victim said after this happened another individual did come up to her and said ‘I am so sorry this happened to you.’”

Kettering officials issued a statement saying the city “condemns all acts of violence and intimidation, particularly those done because of the victim’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, or national origin,” adding that the case has been properly charged.

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