The pair turned themselves in on Wednesday. They are charged with aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
In footage that was widely shared on social media, Likerman and Digesaro are seen throwing a drink at Liz Edelkind, her husband, and their sons before verbally attacking and threatening them, apparently unprovoked.
The pair were also reportedly fired from their jobs after the video circulated online.
Viral Video Shows Verbal Assault
Liz Edelkind told reporters that she and her family had boarded a Long Island Railroad train back home after catching a New York Knicks game on Jan. 10. As they made their way through the aisle in search of seats, Edelkind said Likerman and Digesaro launched an expletive-filled tirade — telling the family that they don’t belong in the United States.
“The couple started to verbally attack me, calling me curse words, immigrant, that I don’t pay taxes, that I have no rights in this country,” the mom told one local outlet.
Edelkind said her initial reaction was confusion, believing at first that she and her family “had nothing to do with them.” But the couple continued to escalate the situation.
“They threw beer at us,” she continued. “My pastor […] her husband, and my husband got in the way to protect me.”
The video — recorded not by Edelkind but by a witness seated just across from the couple — shows Likerman issuing verbal threats after he throws the drink.
“Don’t look at me, don’t fucking look at me,” he repeats several times. “These f—king foreigners ain’t taking over my country.”
The Edelkinds and others informed the train’s conductor, and the couple got off a short time later, according to reports.
Justin Likerman, Kristin Digesaro Face Charges
After a joint investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and NYPD’s Hate Crimes Unit, Likerman and Digesaro were formally charged with aggravated harassment and endangering the welfare of a child.
They turned themselves into police on Wednesday.
The endangerment charge is a Class A misdemeanor under New York criminal law and could carry up to a year of jail time, three years of probation, and as much as $1,000 in fines, according to legal sources.
They were also fired from their jobs at Empire Toyota of Huntington.
“The two employees were suspended when we first heard about this incident,” their former employers wrote on Facebook.
“As our investigation just concluded, they have been terminated. The heart and soul of our labor force is extremely diverse and we value our employees beyond description. Further, our company’s deep support—financial and in-kind—of Long Island’s diverse communities is a matter of public record,” the company added.
As for Liz Edelkind and her family, the arrests bring some small measure of justice.
“How dare they assume because I look or sound different that I am not a U.S. citizen,” she told reporters. “When I heard they were arrested, I felt validated as a human, as a woman, as a U.S. citizen. Justice prevails.”
“Those words that come out their mouths don’t come out unless you have hatred in your heart,” Edelkind continued. “The attack was completely unprovoked, a situation they created.”
Not only does she hope the arrests deter bigots from spewing their hate at strangers in the future — Edelkind said she wants her story to send a positive message to victims of racial and ethnic harassment.
“I want to show people, you have a voice, use it,” she said. “If you’re not using your voice to stand against those oppressing you, then you are standing with them,” she said.