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New York couple accused of attacking Black hotel clerk appear in court amid protests


(NEW YORK) — A New York couple accused of beating a Black hotel clerk in Connecticut blew kisses and appeared to dance in front of protesters as they arrived to court Wednesday.

Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay were captured on surveillance video hitting and kicking Crystal Caldwell, a hotel clerk at the Quality Inn in Mystic, Connecticut, on June 26 last year.

Video of the attack appears to show Sarner and Orbay approach Caldwell near an ice machine. Sarner appears to punch Caldwell, shove her to the ground and kick her head. Orbay appears to hit Caldwell’s head.

Caldwell’s attorney, M. John Strafaci, told ABC News the incident took place after the couple complained about an issue with hot water.

They now both face charges of intimidation due to bias and assault in the attack that Caldwell claims was racially motivated.

“During the assault, he was making racial comments and slurs, calling her a monkey,” Strafaci alleged.

Sarner also faces a further charge of harassment for allegedly making harassing phone calls to Strafaci.

Sarner and Orbay, from Long Island, New York, were arrested last July in Brooklyn for their alleged role in the attack, according to The Hartford Courant.

They appeared at New London Superior Court in Connecticut for a hearing Wednesday, where they were met by a group of protesters who chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, these racist folks have got to go,” local ABC affiliate WTNH-TV reported.

Sarner appeared to raise his hands and dance, while Orbay blew kisses to the protesters.

“He has no remorse. The only thing he sorry about is that he was caught,” Strafaci said about Sarner after the couple’s interactions with protesters at the courthouse.

“It’s one of the most vicious assaults that I’ve seen,” he added. “Just a situation where you have a lady who’s working at a hotel [who] hasn’t done anything to deserve it.”

Strafaci said Caldwell sustained head injuries, an eye injury and a severe concussion following the incident, and she may require surgery. He said she also suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder and continues to have nightmares about the assault.

“It’s gonna be a long, long time that I don’t stop dreaming about his stepping and kicking, stepping on my head. It’s going to be a long time,” Caldwell told WTNH-TV outside the courthouse.

The state’s attorney’s office offered a plea deal to Sarner and Orbay on Wednesday. If they plead guilty to all charges, Sarner would be sentenced to nine years in prison, suspended after five years served, and three years probation. Orbay would be sentenced to six years behind bars, suspended after two years, followed by three years probation, Strafaci said.

The couple is due back in court in July to either accept or reject the plea deals.

Sarner and Orbay’s attorney Kevin Smith did not reply to ABC News’ request for comment. Smith said last August, “We obviously would dispute the nature of the assault,” when arguing for reduced bond for the couple, according to The Day.


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