Long Island woman arrested for harassing toddler with special needs

The woman sent numerous messages via social media and the mail to a toddler who suffers from a genetic disorder that affects her skin and breathing.

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/ Source: NBC News
By Ben Kesslen

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

Krista Sewell, 26, was charged with aggravated harassment, stalking and a felony hate crime by New York State Police on Thursday.

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

Police say Sewell, of Meville, New York, 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.

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The girl’s mother, Jennie Riley, had been sharing information about her daughter’s condition on Facebook and Instagram, in hopes 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.

Between December 2018 and November 2019, 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.

"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 Sewell's harassment campaign.

Sewell’s motives are unknown, and it is not clear if she has legal representation. She is scheduled to appear in court on November 12.

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