Attorney: MMA fighter defended fiancee from sex assault
There are differing accounts of what precipitated a beating of two teenage boys outside a Brooklyn, NY mosque.
On Wednesday, 6-3 amateur MMA fighter Christopher Vallaro, 31, turned himself into police, and has been charged with two counts of assault in the third degree, two counts of menacing in the third degree and two counts of harassment in the second degree.
He is currently out on $12,000 bail.
Mohamed Bahe, director of the Muslim Community Center of Brooklyn said the two teenagers, ages 16 and 17, saw a vehicle with tinted windows, near the side entrance of the mosque.
“We had two volunteers, and they saw a suspicious car parked outside of our entrance,” said Bahe to BuzzFeed’s Talal Ansari. “They looked at the car, trying to figure out who’s inside. They saw a woman and they asked if she needed help. Then all of a sudden a guy comes across running from the street and punches him and knocks him down. He was stomping him and kicking him.
Bahe charges that the other teen, who originally ran at the onset of the attack, heard Vallaro yell “You f***ing terrorist,” as he punched and kicked the first teen.
“The other kid tries to come back and the guy punches him, too,” Bahe said.
Bahe says at that point people inside the mosque came outside, and Vallaro ran.
Both victims suffered bruising, bleeding, swelling, scrapes, black eyes, and one reportedly had a concussion.
Image via Facebook.
Vallaro’s lawyer, Sal Strazzullo, and his uncle, John Schiavone, 66, provided an alternate narrative.
Schiavone says the teenagers cornered Vallaro’s fiancée in her car, and made sexual comments about her.
“They were in the window telling her filthy things, he was just protecting her,” said Schiavone. “What he did was 100 percent right.”
Strazzullo said the accused had gone into a nearby home, and the teens “were putting their hands into the car, accosting her sexually.”
Strazzullo says Vallaro came out, he heard his fiancee screaming for help, and reacted.
“There was no indication of any racism,” says Strazzullo. “He was protecting his girlfriend while she was being accosted by these two individuals. His girlfriend is being accosted by individuals who had no characterization of being Muslims. There was no indication that my client has any ill-will against Muslims.”
The police declined to define the beating as a hate crime.
“This incident did happen in the vicinity of a mosque to two individuals of Muslim faith,” said a New York Police Department’s Office of the Deputy Commissioner, Public Information spokesperson. “This is going to be classified as a non-bias incident.”
“These two individuals were standing outside of the vehicle with a woman who I understand was dressed quite provocatively. They were not in any Muslim attire.”
“The hate crimes unit did interview both victims, who said the suspect didn’t say anything anti-Muslim to them.”
However, Bahe and the brother of one of the victims denied the accusation of harassment, alleged that police had spoke to only one teen, who as beaten, and accused the police of failing to fairly charge in the case.
“This is a blatant cover-up,” said Bahe. “All fingers pointed toward this being a hate crime.”
The Daily News reports that an NYPD spokesperson said the statements “were made in the heat of the moment and were not a motivating factor.”
Vallaro in happier times.