Miya Ponsetto is back in the news again after pleading not guilty to felony hate crime charges related to a deeply disturbing December incident where she assaulted a Black teen after falsely accusing him of stealing her phone.
The 22-year-old woman earned the moniker “SoHo Karen” when she was captured violently attacking Keyon Harrold Jr., 15 — the son of jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold — after accusing him of stealing her cell phone in the lobby of the Arlo Soho Hotel on Dec. 26. Her phone was later returned by an Uber driver after leaving it in their vehicle.
Ponsetto was indicted by a grand jury on charges of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment, and endangering the welfare of a child on Wednesday.
She’s currently under supervised release in relation to the case. Manhattan District Attorney asked the judge to maintain Ponsetto’s current status, while the judge warned Ponsetto that she will face consequences if she skips her next scheduled in-person court date on Oct. 20. The case has largely been handled via video conference due to coronavirus restrictions.
On Wednesday Harrold’s mother, Kat attended a press conference where she was supported by family attorney Ben Crump and Rev. Al Sharpton in reaction to the news. The family has also held the Arlo Hotel at fault for the event and released a petition shortly after the incident in order to gain traction.
“The first two Black people who she falsely accused was not enough for the Arlo Hotel to do something,” Crump said during the press conference according to TMZ. “It wasn’t until her son was accosted and tackled,” Crump said pointing to Kat Harrold, “not once, not twice, but three times, that they finally said, ‘This is enough. Lady you continue to accuse people of having your cell phone.’ And as Kat said, even after the Uber driver brought her cell phone back to her she is still falsely accusing this young Black teenager. God knows what would have happened had his father, Keyon Sr., not been there. ”
“If you had been told you might lose your freedom, you’re not going to plead guilty that’s common sense. I didn’t think that she was going to plead guilty, “Kat Harrold said.
“If I thought she was going to plead guilty, I would’ve thought that she would have stayed in the hotel to answer and to actually apologize. So this is something that I already knew was coming.”
Ponsetto’s attorney Paul D’Emilia had choice words for Manhattan District Attorney who sought the charges against his client.
“Instead of helping to foster a civil and enlightened resolution to an unfortunate incident between two young people, DA Vance chose a craven and opportunistic path in indicting, with felony hate crime charges, Ms. Miya Ponsetto,” D’Emilia said in the statement obtained by the New York Post.
“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system.”
Ponsetto also faces a civil suit filed by the Harrold family in March. The suit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court suit names Ponsetto and hotel worker Chad Nathan, accusing them of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress and false imprisonment, while also claiming the hotel acted in negligence and negligent hiring.
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