Family Of Black Teen Suing ‘SoHo Karen’ Miya Ponsetto
The family of a Black teenager who was falsely accused of stealing a woman’s cellphone at a hotel in New York City is suing his accuser as well as the hotel where it all went down.
22-year-old Miya Ponsetto and Manhattan’s Arlo Hotel have both been named defendants in the suit. On December 26 of last year, Ponsetto falsely claimed 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. stole her phone in the Arlo lobby. The interaction was recorded both on the teen’s father’s phone as well as surveillance video. Both show the woman, who has since been dubbed “SoHo Karen”, physically attacking Harrold Jr. in an attempt to retrieve her phone. Eventually, her actual phone was returned to her after an Uber driver found it in the back of their vehicle.
On January 7, Ponsetto was arrested in her home in California. She faces charges of attempted assault, attempted robbery, grand larceny and acting in a manner injurious to a child.
The civil lawsuit, which also includes hotel manager Chad Nathan as a defendant, alleges Ponsetto and Nathan engaged in racial profiling and accuses the hotel of negligence.
Nathan “detained the plaintiffs and demanded that Keyon Harrold Jr. surrender his cellphone,” the lawsuit reads.
It adds: “Defendants treated plaintiffs differently from other guests and invitees in a place of public accommodation because of their race … The only difference between plaintiffs Keyon Harrold and Keyon Harrold Jr. and the other guests who were not targeted by defendants Chad Nathan and Miya Ponsetto was the color of their skin.” It also claims the defendants violated New York City’s Human Rights Law that prohibits discrimination in public accommodations, housing and employment.
According to CBS News, Kat Rodriguez, Harrold Jr.’s mother, said at a press conference on Wednesday “It might seem small to you, but the incident that happened on December 26 could’ve been deescalated before our son was attacked. The incident could’ve been prevented by the Arlo Hotel.”
Paul Napoli, the family’s attorney, said “there was a lack of training to [the hotel’s] security. This is not how security is supposed to operate. There was a lack of training to the management. And so, if you’re operating a hotel in New York City, you need to be aware of the Human Rights Law.”