On November 8, a 26-year-old woman from New York was arrested and charged with a felony hate crime after she reportedly harassed a child. According to reports, Krista Sewell sent threatening letters, both in the mail and on social media, to a child who has a genetic skin disorder.
As NBC New York reports, Sewell allegedly harassed a 2-year-old girl named Anna Riley. Riley suffers from Harlequin Ichthyosis. According to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, Ichthyosis “is a severe genetic disorder that mainly affects the skin.” A mutation of the ABCA12 gene causes “plates of thick skin that crack and split apart” all over an infant’s body.” There is no cure.
Harlequin Ichthyosis: A Genetic Skin Disorder
Riley’s mom, Jennie Riley runs a Facebook page to help bring awareness to those who don’t understand what Ichthyosis is. The page is called Hope for Anna and this is also where Sewell started harassing Riley and her family.
According to New York State police, Sewell targeted the Facebook page, her Instagram page, and the GoFundMe account set up to raise money for Riley’s treatments. She continued the harassment for the better part of the last year.
Following Sewell’s arrest, Jennie took to Facebook to issue a statement regarding the toll the harassment had on them:
“For the last year, I’ve been fighting a hidden battle. Mui Thomas from The Girl Behind The Face and I have been targeted by the same person for over a year. Countless messages, emails, and comments have been sent to us all much to graphic to share. It is not only not ok to send these types of messages it’s also illegal. Ichthyosis is incredibly hard for anybody to live with and I personally choose to live without hate in my heart. As shocking as this whole thing has been I pray that instead of getting angry you would choose to make a positive out of this and donate to the foundation for Ichthyosis.”
And in a second statement issued to NBC New York, Jennie said although she knew negativity would be a possibility when she made the decision to be an advocate for her daughter, she never expected anything of this magnitude.
“In 2017 my daughter Anna was born with a skin condition called Harlequin Ichthyosis. This condition is very severe and I have made a choice to educate people publicly on Facebook and Instagram. Although I knew there was a possibility for negativity I never expected to receive the messages that were sent to me. Over the past year I have fought a battle I never thought I would fight and I felt fear no mother should feel. I want to thank the New York State Police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Department for their diligence, dedication and most of all their compassion. I hope we can all learn from this and understand the importance of teaching our kids kindness and acceptance of visible differences.”
She later wrote on Instagram that she refuses to hide her daughter from the public as if she is ashamed of her skin disorder. “One day she will have to go out on her own to face the world and I will do everything in my power to make sure she has the confidence that is needed.”
Sara Vallone has been a writer and editor for the last four and a half years. A graduate of Ohio University, she enjoys celebrity news, sports, and articles that enhance people’s lives.