IRVINE, Ca. – A Lake Forest man was arrested for kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault of a woman who was sitting in her vehicle at her apartment complex.
Michael Sangbong Rhee was arrested in the evening of Thursday, April 8, 2021, for the kidnapping and attempted sexual assault of a woman that afternoon. Police said that at around 1:30 p.m. the 37-year-old Asian man approached an Asian woman who was sitting outside the apartment complex located on Harvard and Coronado in the City of Irvine. The woman was sitting in the driver’s seat of her vehicle with her door opened. When she looked up she noticed that Rhee was standing there with a handgun. The woman said that she did not know Rhee, who told her that he would kill her if she did not get into the back of her car.
In fear for her life, the woman offered Rhee her wallet but Rhee told her that they would do that later. He opened the backseat door and pushed the woman into the backseat. The woman told authorities that she believed that she was going to be sexually assaulted or even, killed and was looking for a way to escape. She struggled with Rhee, who committed sexual battery against her. She screamed out to a nearby maintenance worker telling him that Rhee had a gun. Rhee got out of her car and ran through the apartment complex to his vehicle. Surveillance cameras captured Rhee’s license plate as he fled from the complex.
After checking his license plate number, authorities identified a Lake Forest address as his home. Police made contact with Rhee at his home and he was detained. The gun believed to be used during the incident was identified as a BB gun. Police interviewed Rhee, who explained to police that he targeted the woman, who was Asian, because he thought she was “White”. He further explained that the attack was a result of the recent hate crimes against Asian Americans.
Rhee was arrested and booked at the Orange County Jail for kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault. He is being held in lieu of $1 million bail. If anyone has any information pertinent to the case, please contact Detective Haldor Larum at (949) 724-7194 or email hlarum@CityofIrvine.com
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