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Hate crime charges dismissed against white woman who spat on Black woman during Connecticut protests

The victim called the outcome “being spit on once again.”
Keren Prescott speaks with reporters outside Superior Court in Manchester, Conn., in 2021.
Keren Prescott speaks with reporters outside Superior Court in Manchester, Conn., in 2021.Mark Mirko / AP file

HARTFORD, Conn. — A judge Friday dismissed hate crime and other charges against a white woman who spat on a Black woman during competing protests at the Connecticut state Capitol, then was allowed to resolve the case through probation. The victim called the outcome “being spit on once again.”

“The justice system has failed me,” Keren Prescott told the court.

Yuliya Gilshteyn had faced charges including deprivation of rights, which is a hate crime, in the 2021 encounter. Then she was granted a special probation program that lets first-time offenders avoid a criminal record if they complete certain requirements. Hers included 100 hours of anti-hate instruction.

The two women, both in their 40s, crossed paths as people rallied at the Capitol for various causes on Jan. 6, 2021, the start of a new state legislative session. It was also, as it turned out, the date of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, and it was in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prescott was taking part in a Black Lives Matter demonstration. Gilshteyn was protesting mandatory childhood vaccinations and COVID-19 masking requirements.

Prescott said she and others were shouting “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans when Gilshteyn countered with remarks including “all lives matter” and “Black lives don’t matter.”

Prescott, who was wearing a face mask, said she also told Gilshteyn to back up because she wasn’t masked. Gilshteyn then spat in her face and left, video shot by WTNH-TV showed.

Gilshteyn’s attorney, Ioannis Kaloidis, has said his client’s actions were wrong but not racially motivated. He characterized the encounter as a reaction in “a heated environment.”

Hartford Superior Court Judge Sheila Prats has called the incident “despicable” but said Gilshteyn still qualified for the special probation program, known as “accelerated rehabilitation.”

Prescott, on Friday, said she was disgusted by the outcome. She called the program “one of the worst things that could happen to a victim of a hate crime.”

“The justice system is failing Black and brown people,” she told the judge, adding: “This is being spit on once again.”