AP NEWS
ADVERTISEMENT

Hate crime charge for woman in NYC hotel confrontation

July 1, 2021 GMT
FILE - This photo from Friday Jan. 8, 2021, provided by Ventura County Sheriff's Office in California shows a police booking photo of Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto was arraigned in court in Manhattan Wednesday, June 30, 2021 on charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, after wrongly accusing a Black teen of taking her phone. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)
FILE - This photo from Friday Jan. 8, 2021, provided by Ventura County Sheriff's Office in California shows a police booking photo of Miya Ponsetto. Ponsetto was arraigned in court in Manhattan Wednesday, June 30, 2021 on charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child, after wrongly accusing a Black teen of taking her phone. (Ventura County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A California woman who wrongly accused a Black teen of taking her phone at a New York City hotel late last year and grabbed at him as he tried to leave is now charged with a hate crime.

Miya Ponsetto was arraigned in court in Manhattan via videoconference Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to charges including unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.

Ponsetto was at the Arlo Hotel in December when she got into a confrontation with a teen, 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr., whom she accused of stealing her phone. Video shows her grabbing at him as he tried to get away. Her phone was found soon afterward in an Uber.

Ponsetto, of Piru, California, was initially arrested in January on other charges in connection with the confrontation. The 22-year-old initially seemed to apologize, but later backed off in a tense interview on a morning CBS news show.

Her next court date is scheduled for Oct. 20.

“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute,” her attorney, Paul D’Emilia, said in a statement. “In sum, they are absurd, and a perversion of our legal system.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The family of the teen has filed a lawsuit against Ponsetto and the hotel, alleging racial profiling.