White Connecticut woman granted probation for spitting on Black woman

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A white woman who was charged with a hate crime after being caught on video spitting on a Black woman during a protest in Connecticut was allowed to enter a special probation program Wednesday that could leave her with no criminal record.

Yuliya Gilshteyn, 45, was granted accelerated rehabilitation, a special probation program for first-time offenders, and ordered to complete 100 hours of anti-hate curriculum over the next two years.

If she successfully completes the classes and fulfills the other terms of the program, all charges will be dismissed. In addition to the hate crimes charge of deprivation of rights, she also was charged with third-degree attempt to commit assault, first-degree reckless endangerment and risk of injury to a child.

The spitting occurred during large protests outside the state Capitol on Jan. 6, the same day as the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. Video shows Gilshteyn, who opposes mandatory childhood vaccinations, spitting on Keren Prescott, a Black Lives Matter activist. Several groups rallied for various causes that day, the first of the new legislative session.

Prescott said she and a friend were shouting “Black Lives Matter” and other slogans at the protests when Gilshteyn told her “all lives matter” and an argument ensued. Prescott said she also told Gilshteyn to back up because she wasn’t wearing a mask amid the coronavirus pandemic. Gilshteyn then spat at her face, hitting her glasses and mask, Prescott said.

Gilshteyn was initially charged with breach of peace, but those charges were upgraded after prosecutors reviewed video of the incident, including footage from WTNH-TV.

Hartford Superior Court Judge Sheila Prats said she did not intend to send a political message with her ruling Wednesday, but that Gilshteyn’s actions were not serious enough to deny her entry into the program.

The Hartford Courant reported that Gilshteyn apologized to Prescott during the hearing and said her attack was “completely out of character.”

But Prescott called the ruling “the epitome of white privilege.”

“When she attacked me and the police didn’t believe me, that was white privilege,” she told the Courant. “When the police held me back and she was led away, that was white privilege. ... The fact she was in here today and didn’t even get a slap on the wrist, that is white privilege.”