Four Charged with Assault in Apparent Hate-Based Attack

Crystal Perez, Victoria Parrilla, Cristina Perez and Angelica Perez (VIPD photos)
Crystal Perez, Victoria Parrilla, Cristina Perez and Angelica Perez (VIPD photos)

Four St. Croix women are slated to appear in court on charges that they assaulted a transgender woman who says they referenced her sexual orientation and style of dress as they beat her in an incident caught on videotape.

Court documents from the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands on St. Croix include a report from the V.I. Police Department detailing both the victim’s version of the incident and the accused women’s version of what happened.

According to V.I. Police Officer Jodyne Ambrose’s report, she and an officer identified in the report as I. Acosta responded to a 911 emergency call on July 7 in reference to “a group of females fighting” at the Walter I.M. Hodge Pavilion. They later took the victim to the Wilbur H. Francis Command Police Station for a video statement.

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The V.I. Police Department has a policy to not release the names of victims.

The victim said she had been sitting on a sidewalk with a cousin outside the Frederiksted community when Victoria Parilla walked over and the two engaged in a verbal dispute. Parilla threw her slippers at the victim, according to the statement, but did not hit her.

According to the victim, Parilla left the area in a car and returned with three more women – Angelica Perez, Crystal Perez, and Cristina Perez. Parilla approached the victim with a piece of wood in her right hand and a beer bottle in her left, the victim said. At some point, which is unclear from the court documents, the victim said she armed herself with a wrench.

Parilla broke the beer bottle over the victim’s head, according to the report, and then all four women began beating the victim and didn’t stop until they saw a vehicle approaching with lights, according to the police report.

The police report says that the assault left her with cuts on to the face, neck and left hand, and two bruises to the head.

In muted video footage of the attack, four women can be seen repeatedly kicking, punching, dragging and beating the victim with the piece of wood as the victim visibly struggles to defend herself with raised arms.

But without audio, the details of what is being said during the fight cannot be heard. According to the police report, the victim said the women told her to undress “because he is a homosexual and carries himself as a female” during the altercation, according to the police report.

During a phone interview Tuesday, VIPD public information officer Glen Dratte said there wasn’t enough evidence to classify the assault as a hate crime.

“We can’t classify it as a hate crime as yet. We don’t have the facts for that. It has to go through the judicial system for us to make that determination,” Dratte said.

He also said that what the women did was wrong and that it was the department’s job to “protect the rights of all citizens of the community.”

In Parilla’s version of the story, the victim walked towards Parilla as she was putting her baby in a vehicle and, while holding a wrench, asked her if she wanted to fight.
According to the police report, Parilla said she rushed to put her baby in a car seat, jumped into the vehicle and closed the door. Parilla said it seemed as though the victim wanted to hit the car glass with the wrench, prompting her to get out of the vehicle and engage in a fight. The report states that all three Perez sisters admitted to joining the fight and to carrying the piece of wood and beer bottle.

All four women were charged with third-degree assault. Parilla received an additional charge of carrying and using a deadly weapon.

Despite the severity of the charges, Judge Jomo Meade released the four women on their own recognizance over the phone following their arrest on July 7.

Court documents dated July 8, a day after the incident, indicate that Judge Miguel Camacho released Parilla on an unsecured bond of $25,000. The other three women – Crystal Perez, Angelica Perez, and Cristina Perez – were released on unsecured bonds of $1,000 for each person.

The four defendants are scheduled to appear in court at 9 a.m. July 25.

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