California woman wrongly accused Black teen of stealing phone in hotel
Miya Ponsetto, who earned the moniker “SoHo Karen” after going viral for attacking and wrongly accusing a Black teen of stealing her phone in a New York hotel, has avoided prison time.
Ponsetto, 23, of California, pleaded guilty to a felony hate crime for the incident, New York officials announced on Monday. She will serve two years of probation with the possibility of downgrading her sentence to a misdemeanour.
The Simi Valley woman was widely reviled after video went viral of her pushing and grabbing 14-year-old Keyon Harrold, Jr, a Black teen she thought had stolen her phone, which was actually left in an Uber.
“Ms Ponsetto displayed outrageous behavior,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said on Monday, adding, “As a Black man, I have personally experienced racial profiling countless times in my life and I sympathize with the young man victimized in this incident.”
The incident got national attention in part because the teen is the son of famed jazz trumpeter Keyon Harrold, and Ponsetto attracted even more controversy when she seemed not to apologise in a widely viewed CBS News interview.
“I wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever,” Ponsetto told host Gayle King. “I’m Puerto Rican. I’m, like, a woman of colour.”
(She later said “I just wish I had apologised differently, I feel like I made a mistake,” after a November court appearance.)
The musician argued that the attack was a clear example of the racial double-standard applied to Black men versus others.
“If I had done that, what Miya Ponsetto had done to my son, I’d be in jail now,” he said at the time. “If I had hurt her in any way, I’d be in jail now. We wouldn’t even be able to have this conversation. As a Black man, every day I walk outside, I have to play the perfect game, almost like throwing a no-hitter, just to be believed.”