A Connecticut judge dismissed hate crime charges against a white woman who was accused of spitting on an African-American woman during 2021 protests at the state’s Capitol.
Instead of making her face criminal penalties, the court granted the woman an opportunity to settle the case via probation through a special program, according to The Associated Press.
The announcement of the case’s dispensation was made in court on Friday, July 21, in front of the victim.
On Jan. 6, 2021, Yuliya Gilshteyn went to Hartford to protest mandatory childhood vaccinations and COVID-19 masking requirements. Power Up Manchester founder Keren Prescott was there marching with other Black Lives Matter activists on a day that saw demonstrations over multiple issues at the Capitol.
As Prescott and her fellow demonstrators chanted “Black Lives Matter,” Gilshteyn interrupted them saying, “All lives matter” and “Black lives don’t matter.”
At one point, according to video evidence of the encounter, an unmasked Gilshteyn got close to Prescott with her rebuttals and when asked to move back, spat in her face.
Gilshteyn faced deprivation of rights charges stemming from the incident, the same day as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, where she spat on a Black woman. The charge was classified as a hate crime before the court.
Her lawyer, Ioannis Kaloidis said while her client was in the wrong, the act was not rooted in racism, calling it a response in “a heated environment.”
The woman initially faced a breach of peace charge, but after a review of the case by Hartford State’s Attorney Sharmese Walcott, the charges were elevated to encompass a hate crime and additional offenses.
According to court records, these additional charges included third-degree attempt to commit assault, first-degree reckless endangerment, and risk of injury to a child.
After her case was presented in July 2021, she was accepted into a special probation program designed for first-time offenders, allowing them to avoid a permanent criminal record by fulfilling specific conditions.
According to the Hartford Courant, Gilshteyn completed 100 hours of anti-hate instruction.
Hartford Superior Court Judge Sheila Prats said she believes that Gilshteyn’s behavior was “despicable” but that she still qualified for the accelerated rehabilitation program.
Prescott, the victim in the case, said the decision was akin to “being spat on once more.”
The prosecutor asked that Prescott not speak, but she was given the floor by Prats, who said it was important for her to speak regarding the penalty.
Prescott said this program is terrible for hate crime victims, noting that she still considered Gilshteyn a criminal who endangered her life by spitting on her.
“[She] knew what she was doing,” Prescott continued. “No amount of classes are going to change that. And I know that she is not sorry for what she did. She meant to do it,” she said. “She committed a hate crime on (state) property in front of a police officer on camera. This is not justice…This is being spit on once again.”
Prescott’s attorney, Kenneth J. Krayeske, commented on their civil case against Gilshsteyn, saying that his client wanted a “$300,000 prejudgment remedy attachment against the defendant.”
Court records reveal that a $295,000 prejudgment has been attached in the civil case, with Judge Matthew Budzik stating there was probable cause to conclude that Gilshteyn maliciously and intentionally harassed and intimidated Prescott by spitting in her face due to her race. The prejudgment is in effect a hold on the stipulated assets until a final judgment is rendered in a civil case.