SoHo Karen faces civil suit from family of teen she accused of theft

SoHo Karen is being sued by family of black teen she attacked and falsely accused of taking her phone – claiming she racially targeted and violated the 15-year-old’s human rights

  • The lawsuit alleges human rights violations, as well as assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, and more
  • The Harrold family is seeking an unspecified amount of damages
  • Plaintiffs include Miya Ponsetto, the Arlo Soho Hotel, and manager Chad Nathan
  • The criminal case for Ponsetto in the same incident remains ongoing 

Miya Ponsetto, the infamous ‘SoHo Karen’ who falsely accused a black teen of stealing her cell phone from a New York City hotel, is being sued by his family. 

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the family of Keyon Harrold Jr., 15, lists Ponsetto as a defendant, as well as Arlo Soho hotel, its owner company Quadrum Hospitality Group, hotel manager Chad Nathan and others. 

The lawsuit alleges violation of New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law, and also accuses her of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, negligence, and loss of service.

The hotel and its management group are also accused of negligent hiring, with the lawsuit claiming Nathan ‘had a history of racially prejudiced behavior and misconduct.’ 

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Keyon Harrold Sr., right, is joined by attorney Ben Crump, center, and Katty Rodriguez as he speaks to reporters during a news conference to announce the filing of a lawsuit against Arlo Hotels and Miya Ponsetto

Miya Ponsetto (pictured the infamous ‘SoHo Karen’ who falsely accused a black teen of stealing her cell phone from a New York City hotel, is being sued by his family for violating his human rights 

Keyon Harrold Jr., 15, (left, with his dad) was attacked by Ponsetto last December after she accused him of stealing her phone

The lawsuit comes months after an incident at the Arlo Soho Hotel, when Ponsetto accused Harrold Jr. of stealing her cell phone on December 26.

She then attacked Harrold Jr. before fleeing the hotel. Ultimately, the hotel was found to have the phone and returned it to Ponsetto.

Security video later released by the NYPD shows Ponsetto frantically grabbing at Harrold Jr. as he tried to get away from her through the hotel’s front door. She’s seen clutching him from behind before both tumble to the ground. 

Ponsetto was later arrested in California and charged with third-degree attempted robbery, grand larceny, attempted assault, and acting in a manner injurious to a child.

According to Law & Crime, the next court date in the criminal case is set for March 29.


Ponsetto allegedly attacked Keyon Harrold Jr., who was 14 at the time, at the Arlo Soho Hotel

The new civil suit dives into the altercation from the vantage point of the Harrold family.

‘On the day after Christmas, Keyon Harrold and Keyon Harrold, Jr. headed to a restaurant in the lobby of the Arlo Soho Hotel, where they had been staying, in order to have brunch. As soon as they entered the lobby, they were suddenly confronted and racially profiled by defendants Chad Nathan and Miya Ponsetto.’

Ponsetto was later arrested in California and charged with third-degree attempted robbery, grand larceny, attempted assault, and acting in a manner injurious to a child 

The lawsuit then accuses Ponsetto of chasing and tackling Harrold Jr. after she ‘disregarded all of the other non-African American individuals in the lobby.’ 

Nathan allegedly helped detain Harrold Jr. while hotel security guards stood idly by.

After the attack, Harrold, a Grammy-winning musician, called the police to report what had just occurred. 

‘As a result of defendants actions, Plaintiffs have suffered loss and injury, including but not limited to physical and emotional pain and suffering, great mental distress, shock, fright, economic loss, humiliation, embarrassment, emotional distress, feelings of racial stigmatization, an increased sense of vulnerability, and unlawful deprivation of their protected rights to exercise and enjoy equal treatment….’

The lawsuit is seeking damages, as well as attorney’s fees and costs, but does not list a desired dollar amount. 

Attorney Ben Crump, Attorney Paul Napoli along with the Keyon Harrolds father Keyon Harrold Sr and mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of a law suit against the Arlo Hotel

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the family of Keyon Harrold Jr., 15, lists Ponsetto as a defendant, as well as Arlo Soho hotel, its owner company Quadrum Hospitality Group, hotel manager Chad Nathan and others. The boy’s mother Katty Rodrigeuz announce the filing of the law suit 

The lawsuit alleges violation of New York City Human Rights Law and New York State Human Rights Law, and also accuses her of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, false imprisonment, negligence, and loss of service

Attorney Ben Crump flashes the family’s lawsuit at the press during the announcement on Wednesday 

Famed civil rights attorney Ben Crump is part of the plaintiffs’ legal team, which is being led by Craig Phemister, Esq.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Phemister’s law firm, Napoli Shkolnik PLLC, for comment.

Paul D’Emilia, who is representing Ponsetto in her criminal case, did respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment.

‘My office, together with the Manhattan DA’s Office, are diligently working towards a resolution of this case,’ D’Emilia said of the criminal matter. 

‘Our goal remains to handle this matter through the proper judicial channels and not through various media outlets.

Ponsetto has been charged with third-degree attempted robbery, grand larceny, attempted assault, and acting in a manner injurious to a child

‘Ms. Ponsetto remains at her home in California and has not been informed of any pending civil lawsuit in which she has been named.’

After the incident, Ponsetto denied being racist and apologized to the teen for ‘making him feel inferior’ during a rambling interview with CBS This Morning’s Gayle King.

‘I admit, yes, I could have approached the situation differently or maybe not yelled at him like that and made him feel, you know, maybe — some sort of — uh — inferior way, making him feel as if I was like hurting his feelings, because that’s not my intention,’ Ponsetto said. 

In January, a California judge dropped a misdemeanor count of public intoxication against Ponsetto, related to a February 2020 arrest.

Her mother, Nicole Ponsetto, pleaded no contest to battery on a police officer and public intoxication in the same incident.

She was sentenced to to 100 hours of community service and entered a 12-month diversion program.

They were both arrested after a drunken incident at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills.

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