‘SoHo Karen’ Facing Hate Crime Charges After Alleged Phone Theft Appears In Court


'SoHo Karen' Facing Hate Crime Charges After Alleged Phone Theft Appears In CourtCBS Mornings/YouTube/Alamy

‘SoHo Karen’ has appeared in court on hate crime charges, after she wrongly accused a Black teenager of stealing her mobile phone. 

Miya Ponsetto was brought before a judge in July after a video of her making the false accusations – as well as attacking the teenager – went viral.


The incident took place in a Manhattan hotel in December 2020, and resulted in the 23-year-old being branded ‘SoHo Karen’ by social media users.

The video resulted in her arrest in January, and on Monday, November 8, the Californian woman appeared in a Manhattan court for a pre-trial hearing, facing charges of aggravated harassment and endangering of the welfare of a child, alongside unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime.

Despite realising that she had misplaced her phone in an Uber, Ponsetto pleaded not guilty, with her attorney commenting that she had been ‘grossly overcharged’, Daily Mail reports.


Attorney Paul D’Emilia stated:

She was charged with crimes that were greatly enhanced, if I could say that. We don’t feel those charges are appropriate, but hopefully there’s something that we can reach that will be satisfactory to everybody.

In an interview with CBS, Ponsetto apologised to the boy ‘from the bottom of [her] heart’ and to have made ‘the family go through, like, all of that stress’. However, she noted that she didn’t ‘feel like this one mistake’ defined her and claimed to be ‘just as a kid at heart as he is’.


Ponsetto controversially stated that her behaviour ‘wasn’t racial profiling whatsoever’, explaining that it couldn’t be because she was ‘Puerto Rican’ and a ‘woman of colour’.

The boy’s father, jazz player Keyon Harrold, noted how if he had committed the same acts Ponsetto had that he would ‘be in jail now. ‘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,. he added.

Harrold concluded that Ponsetto’s arrest was ‘only the first step in a very big conversation that needs to happen in America that has to do with racial profiling’.

Ponsetto was initially charged with assault and remains in California on bail. Her next court date is scheduled for January 10.


If you have been affected by any of the issues in this article and wish to speak to someone in confidence, contact Stop Hate UK by visiting their website

Topics: News, California, Manhattan


The Independent and 2 others
Poppy Bilderbeck
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