Miya Ponsetto, the woman who falsely accused a Black teenager of stealing her iPhone, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday (June 30) to hate crime charges. The 22-year-old was indicted by a New York County grand jury on two counts of unlawful imprisonment as a hate crime, aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
Ponsetto became known as “SoHo Karen” last December after a video of her attacking and screaming at 14-year-old Keyon Harrold Jr. went viral. In the clip, Ponsetto confronted Keyon Jr. and his father, jazz musician Keyon Harrold, in the lobby of the Arlo Soho hotel.
After involving security and tackling Keyon Jr. to the ground, it was later found that Ponsetto had misplaced her iPhone in an Uber. She was charged with attempted robbery, grand larceny, acting in a manner injurious to a child and two counts of attempted assault.
Ponsetto was arrested at her Piru, California home in January after a coordinated effort between Ventura County and New York City police officers. Authorities reportedly had to forcibly remove her from a vehicle and said she resisted arrest.
Paul D’Emilia, Ponsetto’s lawyer, slammed the charges as “absurd.”
“The charges alleged are a brazen and clear overreach of the intent of the statute. In sum, they are absurd and a perversion of our legal system,” D’Emilia said in a statement. “As truly violent criminals maraud and run rampant through New York City, this DA exhibits zero interest in law-enforcement and prosecution. Instead, he turns his prosecutorial fury on a distraught and panicked young woman stranded without her lifeline, her phone, thousands of miles from home. Shameful.”
After her arrest, Ponsetto sat down for a tense interview with Gayle King on “CBS This Morning,” in which she appeared to defend her actions.
“I admit, yes, I could’ve approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that… and hurting his feelings because that was not my intention. I consider myself to be super sweet,” she said.
Ponsetto later interrupted King, saying, “The footage shows me attacking his son. Attacking him how? Yelling at him? Ok, I apologize. Can we move on? Basically, I’m a 22-year-old girl. I am, I don’t — racism — how is one girl accusing a guy about a phone a crime?”
Ponsetto is also facing a civil lawsuit from the Harrold family, citing infliction of emotional distress and other damages.