Man Who Violently Attacked Transgender Woman in Hollywood Gets 2 1/2 Yrs. Probation

October 12, 2018 - 1:47 pm

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles man was placed on 2 1/2 years probation today for a 2013 attack on a transgender woman on a Hollywood sidewalk.

Nicol Shakhnazaryan, 26, was also sentenced to 30 days of community service that he has already performed in connection with his no-contest plea to an assault charge. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Charlaine F. Olmedo also ordered Shakhnazaryan to stay at least 100 yards away from the victim, Vivian Diego.

As a result of a plea agreement with the prosecution, Olmedo reduced the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor.

A second defendant, Samuel Garunts, now 26, pleaded no contest in February 2017 to a misdemeanor assault count and was sentenced to three years probation.

The judge noted the defendants' pleas came after a mistrial that was declared in their first trial following the discovery of a Los Angeles Police Department report that alleged Diego was the "aggressor" in the 2 a.m. May 31, 2013, confrontation near a Metro stop in the 6200 block of Hollywood Boulevard. The judge said surveillance video shown in court during the sentencing hearing wasn't the only video pertinent to the case, saying there was also video that shows the woman turning around and making some sort of stabbing or slashing motion and a man dropping almost to his knees before the group of men with him begins chasing her.

The victim's attorney, Gloria Allred, countered that her client "was not charged with a crime in this because she committed no crime."

"These defendants came after her. She was walking away when she was assaulted," Allred told reporters outside court. "I think any attacks on the victim at this point need to stop because it's the perpetrators -- two of them - - that have entered pleas. ... I'm tired of anyone trying to blame this victim, who has suffered so much and been so courageous."

In a statement read in court by her attorney, Diego told the judge she lost hearing in her left ear as a result of the attack.

"They shattered my jaw, fractured both eye sockets, broke my cheekbone, fractured my temple and broke my ribs," the transgender woman wrote in her statement. "I was in intensive care for two days and when I woke up from the surgery my jaw was wired shut. I was moved to critical care where I stayed for another 16 days. It was awful. I wouldn't wish the pain I went through on my worst enemy."

Diego told reporters outside court it was important for her to attend the hearing because "this kind of stuff happens every day."

"Here I am still standing," she said, telling reporters that she wanted to be a voice for those who don't survive to tell their stories.

Deputy District Attorney Craig Kleffman said he understands the woman is unhappy that her assailants aren't serving prison time, and that the plea agreements with the two defendants don't "diminish what Ms. Diego went through."

At the end of the sentencing hearing, the judge told Diego she was "sorry for your injuries" and that she hoped the victim could move past what had happened.

The judge then addressed Shakhnazaryan, telling him she hopes he will make wiser choices in the future and realize that "all people do deserve respect." He had no prior criminal record, she noted during the hearing.