Who is Crystal Caldwell? Black hotel clerk called 'an old monkey', beaten by White NY couple over no hot water

Who is Crystal Caldwell? Black hotel clerk called 'an old monkey', beaten by White NY couple over no hot water
Crystal Caldwell (GoFundMe) and CCTV footage of her assault (Twitter)

MYSTIC, CONNECTICUT: A Connecticut hotel worker has been left shocked by the behavior of her assaulters outside the court. Crystal Caldwell was assaulted by Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay at the Quality Inn in Mystic, Connecticut on June 26, 2020. The couple arrived at the New London Superior Court on April 30 to face charges and didn't seem ashamed of their behavior.

Outside the courthouse, the couple faced Black Lives Matter protesters, who chanted "Hey hey, ho ho, these racist folks have got to go." In response, Sarner and Obray pranced and blew kisses at the protesters. Sarner also made crude gestures to his crotch. "You can tell by his behavior that he has no remorse. The only thing he is sorry about is that he was caught," Caldwell's attorney told the press. As a result of the attack, Caldwell has been left unable to work and is suffering from PTSD. This is her story and how she ended up being brutally assaulted for no fault of hers by Sarner and Orbay.


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Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay dance and make gestures to the crowd as they enter the court. (Screenshot from WTNH News 8)

Who is Crystal Caldwell?

Not much is known about the 56-year-old victim. She reportedly worked at the Quality Inn for several years. Caldwell does not seem to have a social media account in her name, so we have been unable to obtain information about her. She lives in Groton, around 8 miles from Mystic. As a result of the assault, she reportedly suffered from a concussion and an injured right eye. She also reportedly has PTSD and nightmares about the assault and may require surgery.

"The only gripe they could’ve had with me is, when they were swearing at me on the phone, at the front desk, I just simply hung up," Caldwell had said. She had described the couple as being White and in their late 20s or early 30s. Caldwell claims it wasn't only physical abuse she endured. "I was called a monkey," she said. "I was told I wasn’t deserving of being on this planet."

Caldwell has also started a GoFundMe to help her and her family. According to the page, "I have always worked and provided for my family. On Friday, June 26, 2020, on my job at the Quality Inn in Mystic I was assaulted by two patrons. As a result, my injuries have prohibited me from returning to work. At this time, I am not receiving any compensation." As of writing this article, the fund has raised $8,939 raised out of its $2,000 goal.

Assault by Sarner and Orbay

Sarner first phoned the desk at the hotel to complain about the lack of hot water on June 26, 2020. According to reports, he phoned the desk multiple times. Both he and Orbay then went down and assaulted Caldwell. At the time, she was helping another guest with the ice machine. Sarner was seen on video tossing her to the floor and punching and kicking her. Allegedly, he also called Caldwell "an old monkey". They were then separated by other employees before the couple went back and continued to assault Caldwell.

At around 11:30 am, police received a call from Caldwell's colleague, who said that a guest was "beating up on my desk clerk" and "he is smacking my desk clerk around." A short while later, Sarner called 911 and said, "I was just assaulted by staff" and "it's on camera". After cops arrived, the three were taken to the hospital for treatment, but Sarner and Obray managed to escape, retrieve their car and flee the state.

CCTV footage showing Sarner and Orbay assaulting Crystal Caldwell. (Screenshot via Joseph Strafaci)

They were arrested in Brooklyn, New York by US Marshals and extradited to Connecticut on July 14, 2020. Sarner was charged with second-degree assault, third-degree assault, and imitation based on bigotry and bias. Orbay was charged with two counts of third-degree assault and imitation based on bigotry and bias. The Sun reported that prosecutors offered a deal to the couple. "In total it would mean [Sarner] would be sentenced to nine years, suspended after serving five years," Caldwell's lawyer M John Strafci said. Orbay meanwhile would serve a six-year sentence, suspended after serving two years. 

The couple will be back in court in July to accept or reject the deals. It is unclear what they plan to do and their lawyer has refused to comment to the press. 

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