Man accused of punching TikToker charged with hate crimes

A man suspected of random assaults in New York City - including an attack on a woman who posted about it in a widely shared social media video - has been charged with hate crimes.

Skiboky Stora, 40, was accused by the Manhattan district attorney on Tuesday of "assaulting, stalking and harassing strangers in a series of anti-female, anti-white, and antisemitic incidents".

One of the alleged encounters included one that received wide coverage when the victim uploaded a TikTok video in which she talked about being punched in the face.

Mr Stora has pleaded not guilty on all the charges.

He has been charged with three counts of assault in the third degree as a hate crime and one count of stalking in the third degree as a hate crime and aggravated harassment in the second degree, according to the Manhattan district attorney.

One of the cases for which Mr Stora is accused is that of Halley McGookin, 23, who was assaulted in late March in Manhattan.

She documented her injury in a video on TikTok video that has been watched over 50 million times.

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” she said. “Oh, my God, it hurts so bad. I can’t even talk.”

The district attorney's office said Mr Stora allegedly “struck her in the head, causing her to fall to the ground”, which left her with pain and swelling.

In another case, in September of last year, a 17-year-old student walked past Mr Stora, who allegedly elbowed him in the neck and said, using an expletive: “You people think you can do whatever you want.”

He is accused of elbowing a 37-year-old woman’s shoulder, causing pain and bruising, in October 2023.

In a fourth incident in November 2023, he allegedly followed and harassed a young Jewish couple when they confronted him for tearing down posters of kidnapped Israeli hostages.

He was arrested on 27 March.

He was arraigned in New York on Tuesday and given permission to represent himself in court, according to the BBC's US partner network, CBS News.

"You know, it's a low-life individual that would do something like that, ma'am, but I never met this woman [Ms McGookin] a day in my life," he told CBS outside the courtroom.

Mr Stora said he believes the charges against him are retaliation for a lawsuit he filed against New York City Mayor Eric Adams.

He will be back in court in August.

Last month another man, Daquan Armstead, was arrested by New York police and accused of unprovoked attacks in March and April on eight women.

Mr Armstead faces charges of hate crime/assault, attempted hate crime/assault and aggravated harassment, a New York Police Department spokesperson said at the time.

There have been more than 90 unprovoked assaults on people in Manhattan, including 50 on women, according to police figures cited in late April by NBC News.