Couple accused of racist attack at Connecticut hotel arrested in N.Y.

Janelle Griffith
·2 min read
Image: Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay (Stonington Police Dept.)
Image: Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay (Stonington Police Dept.)

A couple accused of assaulting a 59-year-old hotel worker in Mystic, Connecticut, while yelling racial slurs after complaining about a lack of hot water in their room, was arrested early Monday in Brooklyn, New York.

Philip Sarner and Emily Orbay were extradited to Connecticut later Monday, where they face assault and other charges, Stonington police said in a statement.

Sarner, 39, and Orbay, 28, have no permanent addresses but are known to be based primarily in Nassau County on Long Island, police said.

They are accused of attacking Crystal Caldwell, a Black desk clerk, on June 26 at a Quality Inn, where she has worked for several years. Caldwell has said the couple confronted her after complaining about the water temperature in their room.

Caldwell and her attorney, M. John Strafaci, said the couple, who are white, attacked her twice and called her a monkey.

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Hotel surveillance video shows Sarner and Orbay approach Caldwell while she is near an ice machine. Sarner punches her, shoves her to the ground and appears to kick her in the head while she is on the floor. The couple then walk off, while two of Caldwell's coworkers come to her aid.

Caldwell sustained a severe concussion, as well as injuries to her right eye, back and knees, Strafaci previously told NBC News.

Police said they received two 911 calls at approximately 11:30 a.m. reporting a physical disturbance at the Quality Inn.

The first call came from a colleague of Caldwell's, according to NBC Connecticut.

The woman told a dispatcher that a guest was "beating up on my desk clerk" and "he is smacking my desk clerk around," the outlet reported. Another voice can be heard in the background of the call saying, "I want him arrested now."

A short time later, police received another call from a hotel guest who was later identified as Sarner. "I was just assaulted by staff," the caller said. A dispatcher asked, "How did they assault you?" Sarner replied, "punching my head. It's on camera."

Sarner, Orbay and Caldwell requested medical attention and were taken to separate hospitals. Police said they were unable to monitor the couple, who later returned to the hotel, retrieved their car and left the state.

Sarner is charged with second-degree and third-degree assault. Orbay is charged with third-degree assault. They are both charged with intimidation based on bigotry and bias.

Sarner and Orbay were released early Tuesday after posting bonds of $75,000 and $50,000. They are next due in court date on July 29.

It is unclear if they have attorneys. They could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.