Finally, there will be some justice for the young woman who was forced by her boyfriend to walk naked in Harlem, New York. In the brutally cold month of January in 2016, a woman from Florida claimed her boyfriend coerced her into walking completely nude down a block in New York City after he accused her of infidelity. Now, a jury has come to a decision.
The man, known as Jason Melo, was convicted on Dec. 15, 2017, and found guilty of first degree coercion, second degree harassment, second degree menace, and third degree assault. He was also found guilty of putting the safety of a child in danger. He could face up to seven years behind bars, but no one will know the outcome until Jan. 3 when he's officially sentenced.
In response to the accuser's claims, Melo said that the walk was "consensual" and even gave a bizarre justification by pointing to Africa. "In Africa, they used to do this when somebody gets cheated on," he said. But Melo's ex-girlfriend claimed that the couple was no longer together when he found text messages from another man in her phone. The accuser's identity has been withheld.
The woman described her harrowing experience in severe terms. "I felt mortified. It was horrible. I felt so embarrassed," she said. She also said that no one witnessing the torturing ordeal tried to help her.
Jurors were shown the video in which Melo forcibly disrobed the woman and can be heard saying, "You’re going to pay the price like a whore, right there by the trash." Later on in the clip, the woman can be seen trying to cover herself with a black motorbike tarp. In addition to those comments, he can also be heard saying, "Take off your towel!" and "Co-operate b*tch. Show what you are, so pretty and so great. She’s a tart. Let’s go. Let’s go. Say hi to the camera and say why you’re doing this." The woman also alleged that Melo forced her to walk naked outside while leaving their infant in the apartment.
According to the New York Post, Melo's defense attorney, Theodore Herlich, chalked up the scenario to "penis envy." In other words, Melo was apparently too weak to process another man's reported text in his ex-girlfriend's phone. Herlich victim-blamed the woman by going on to call her a "player."
However, the prosecutor, Caitlin Connolly, lambasted Melo as a "small" and "indignant and self-righteous" man who lacked any kind of remorse for his repulsive behavior. The prosecutor said, "This is an obsessive, paranoid, controlling person, who had every reason to hurt [the accuser]. He was smirking throughout and smiling often [during his testimony]."
In the disturbing video, the woman can be seen trying to hide behind trash cans to hide her body. At that moment, Melo can be heard sneering in the video clip as he says, "There, on the trash, exactly." Eventually, the video ends when the woman covers herself with the tarp. Connolly, the prosecutor, alleged that Melo, who tried to justify his behavior, was proud of himself. "He bragged about the fact that he did it. He said she deserved it," she said.
Revenge tactics, such as the extremely awful one in this case, are unfortunately common and frequently leveled at women. Such terrible tactics, like revenge porn or forcing someone to walk nude in a public area, are unfortunately nothing new. But with this case, perhaps a message can be sent out to society that abject misogyny of this sort will not be tolerated at all. Melo's sentencing will happen on Jan. 3.