SANTA ANA ( — A woman pleaded not guilty Monday to a hate crime charge for allegedly pouring hot coffee on a black nursing assistant at UC Irvine Medical Center.

Rose Mary Ayala, 38, was charged Friday with a felony count of hate crime battery and faces up to three years in prison if convicted, Deputy District Attorney Andrew Katz said.

On July 18, the alleged victim was serving coffee to Ayala and other patients in the lounge of the medical center when she allegedly began taunting him with racial slurs, Katz said.

The certified nursing assistant ignored the woman’s insults, but while he was getting sugar for another patient, Ayala allegedly walked up behind him and dumped hot coffee on his right leg, Katz alleged.

Ayala was being held on $50,000 bail. She was due in court Aug. 28 for a pretrial hearing.

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