NY woman, 26, who sent threatening messages to 2-year-old girl with skin disorder charged with hate crime
Krista Sewell is said to have embarked on a campaign of hate that involved targeting toddler Anna Riley
MELVILLE, NEW YORK: A New York woman who was accused of harassing and sending threatening messages to a child with a genetic skin disorder has been arrested and charged.
Krista Sewell, 26, of Melville, New York, is said to have embarked on a campaign of hate that involved targeting two-year-old Anna Riley, who suffers from Harlequin ichthyosis. The genetic disorder affects the skin and infants born with it have very hard, thick skin covering most of their bodies. It also results in difficulties with breathing and movement.
Police said Sewell posted messages threatening Anna on accounts across Facebook, Instagram, and GoFundMe over the past year. They also said that the 26-year-old went so far as to sending threatening letters to the young girl's home.
Anna's mother, Jennie Riley, said she and Mui Thomas from 'The Girl Behind the Face,' another page used to raise awareness about the disorder, had been sent "countless messages, emails, and comments" by Sewell.
She confirmed Sewell's arrest on the Instagram page and said that, despite the abuse, she refuses to let Anna "hide from her disorder with some sort of shame about having different skin."
"One day she will have to go out on her own to face the world and I will do everything in my power to make sure she has the confidence that is needed," she wrote. "I hope so much that people learn there is someone on the other side of their keyboards and it’s not ok to send hateful messages."
Speaking to NBC New York, she said, "Over the past year I have fought a battle I never thought I would fight and I felt fear no mother should feel. I want to thank the New York State Police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department for their diligence, dedication and most of all their compassion. I hope we can all learn from this and understand the importance of teaching our kids kindness and acceptance of visible differences."
Sewell has been charged with aggravated harassment as a hate crime, which is a felony offense. As of November 10, she was being held at the Ulster County jail.