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New York woman arrested, charged with harassing toddler with special needs

The woman sent numerous messages to a toddler who suffers from a genetic disorder that affects her skin and breathing, authorities said.

A New York woman was arrested and charged with harassing a child with special needs for a year on social media and through the mail.

New York State Police charged Krista Sewell, 26, of Meville, on Long Island, with aggravated harassment, stalking and a felony hate crime on Thursday.

Police say Sewell repeatedly threatened a toddler, Anna, who was born in 2017 with harlequin ichthyosis, a genetic disorder that creates hard, thick skin separated by deep cracks that can cause breathing difficulties, among other issues.

Image: Jennie Riley and her daughter, Anna
Jennie Riley and her daughter, Anna, who suffers from harlequin ichthyosis.Hope for Anna

The girl's mother, Jennie Riley, had been sharing information about her daughter's condition on Facebook and Instagram in hope of educating the public about her condition, she told NBC New York in a statement.

"Although I knew there was a possibility for negativity, I never expected to receive the messages that were sent to me," Riley said.

From December to November, Sewell sent "numerous threatening messages to Facebook, Instagram and GoFundMe pages that had been set up by the victim's family," police said. She also sent threatening messages through the U.S. mail to the family's home in the Hudson Valley, police said.

"Over the past year, I have fought a battle I never thought I would fight and I felt fear no mother should feel," Riley said of the alleged harassment campaign.

Police said a motive hadn't been determines and that it was not clear whether Sewell had legal representation. She was scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.

"I hope we can all learn from this and understand the importance of teaching our kids kindness and acceptance of visible differences," Riley said.