VICTIM’S RECOVERY: Woman attacked in Hell’s Kitchen speaks out as attacker is sentenced to 15 years

NEW YORK CITY, NY – A 68-year-old woman named Vilma Kari was the victim of a hateful attack back in March 2021 in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Her attacker, 43-year-old Brandon Elliot, was sentenced to 15 years in state prison after pleading guilty to first-degree assault as a hate crime and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. Kari recently spoke out for the first time, expressing her desire for a new chapter in her life and the ongoing challenges she faces in her recovery.

During the attack, surveillance video showed Elliot repeatedly kicking and stomping on Kari’s head and body, while telling her “you don’t belong here.” Two doormen who witnessed the attack did not intervene but eventually checked on Kari once the attacker left. Kari’s fractured rib has healed, and the bruises have faded, but she still experiences fear when venturing outside.

In the wake of this horrifying experience, Kari’s daughter started an organization to fight against hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans, and the White House has taken notice of their efforts. Deputy Assistant to the President Erika Moritsugu emphasized that Kari is not alone in her struggle and that her example will inspire and support other victims living in fear.

Kari’s powerful victim impact statement detailed the terror she faced that day as a Filipina woman, further highlighting the prevalence of hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Despite the physical healing, Kari remains focused on her mental and emotional wellbeing as she continues to seek closure and healing in the aftermath of this traumatic experience. She expressed the hope that her story and her organization can help others who have faced similar traumas, shedding light on the ongoing issue of racially motivated violence in the United States.