In his first-ever interview since Mark Wahlberg attacked him 26 years ago, Johnny Trinh told the Daily Mail that the actor’s attack did not blind him, as had been believed for nearly the past three decades.
“I was not blinded by Mark Wahlberg,” Trinh told the Mail in an exclusive interview. “He did hurt me, but my left eye was already gone. He was not responsible for that.”
Wahlberg is seeking a pardon from the Massachusetts Parole Board for a 1988 felony assault conviction, in which the actor pled guilty to assaulting two Vietnamese men outside of a Boston-area convenience store when he was just 16-years-old. Wahlberg was sentenced to two years in jail with 21 months suspended, but was released after 45 days.
While Asian activist group 18 Million Rising has protested Wahlberg’s request, specifically calling for the parole board to reject the actor’s pardon, Trinh told the Mail his attacker should be forgiven.
“I would like to see him get a pardon,” Trinh said in the interview. “He should not have the crime hanging over him any longer. He paid for his crime when he went to prison. I am not saying that it did not hurt when he punched me in the face, but it was a long time ago. He has grown up now. I am sure he has his own family and is a responsible man.”
While Trinh, who reportedly did not know that Wahlberg went on to become a world-famous actor, supports a pardon, he recalled the 1988 attack as “very frightening at the time.”
“I was on my way home from work,” Trinh told the Mail. “I just remember a man coming up to me, saying something and then he hit me hard in the face. He knocked me down and I got up and ran. I was scared that he was going to hit me again. I just wanted to get away. I had never seen him before and did not know why he wanted to hit me. The guy was crazy, he must have been out of his mind on drugs.”
But Wahlberg’s attack did not leave Trinh blind in one eye, as was previously thought; according to the man himself, he lost the eye before he arrived in America, while fighting with the United States against North Vietnamese forces as a member of the South Vietnamese army. A grenade exploded near him, causing shrapnel to lodge in his eye.
“Doctors had to take my eye out,” Trinh told the Mail. “I was given a false eye. Having one eye has affected what jobs I can do, but I did not lose my sight when I was punched by this man.”
Trinh will reportedly write a statement in support of the actor’s pardon to be presented at a hearing in Boston.
“It is only right that he get the pardon,” Trinh repeated in the interview. “It was over 25 years ago and that is a lot of time. To be honest I have not really thought about it very much. I have just got on with my life with my family.”
At the premiere of his new film The Gambler in New York, Wahlberg told the Associated Press that he is “just trying to be the best person” he can be.
“Everyone has an opinion and has a reason why they think I’m doing it,” Wahlberg told the AP. “I’ve worked really hard to be a positive influence for kids growing up in communities like mine who don’t really have a chance, and try to provide an opportunity for them to be more successful, and that’s why I’m doing it.”