By: Alyssa Wilson
A California woman who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her cell phone in New York City was arraigned in Manhattan Wednesday and charged with hate crimes. According to ABC News, 22-year-old Miya Ponsetto pleaded not guilty.
The incident, which went viral on social media, took place on December 26, 2020, in the lobby of the Arlo Hotel in Manhattan. Ponsetto claimed Harrold’s son, who was 14 years old at the time, stole her cell phone and she physically attacked him.
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She was indicted by a grand jury on two counts of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree as a hate crime, aggravated harassment in the second degree and endangering the welfare of a child. She was initially charged with two counts of attempted assault, attempted robbery grand larceny and endangering the welfare of a child after being arrested in California on January 8, 2021.
Harrold’s family asked that she be charged with a hate crime for the attack. The phone she accused Harrold’s son of stealing was returned to the hotel by a Lyft driver who said it was left in their car.
Ponsetto is set to return to court in October and her attorney Paul D’Emilia said the decision to file felony hate crime charges was too much. “The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute,” he said. “In sum, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system.”
If you or someone you know is struggling from trauma triggered by this story, resources are available here.