Prosecutors said Vergara asked the teen on October 15, “What trash are you speaking?” When the teen said he was speaking Arabic, Vergara physically and verbally assaulted him, the district attorney’s office said.
The 17-year-old teen, a high school student, suffered a minor injury to his face and eye, said Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans, a San Diego-based organization.
San Diego police opened an investigation and said they found video evidence that corroborated the teen’s story.
“All children, of any ethnicity or faith, should be safe when traveling on San Diego’s public transportation,” PANA legal director Geneviéve Jones-Wright said in the news release.
Vergara was arrested on October 22 “for an unrelated misdemeanor narcotic charge. During the arrest, Vergara was recognized as being wanted in connection to the SDPD hate crime investigation,” police said in a news release.
Vergara is expected to be sentenced to five years in prison on December 15.
CNN has reached out to the San Diego public defender’s office for comment.