Newport Mall Easter Bunny Arrested for Aggravated Assault
If you didn’t get any chocolate or colored eggs for Easter this year, you might blame authorities in Jersey City, who arrested the holiday hare a week prior to the big event. On March 20, police arrested Kassim Charles, 22, hired to play the Newport Centre Mall’s Easter Bunny, on charges of aggravated assault and disorderly conduct. The incident began when a one-year-old girl, posing for a picture on the bunny’s lap, slipped to the floor. This apparently provoked the girl’s father, 44-year-old Juan Jimenez-Gerrero, who, according to reports, began verbally abusing and physically attacking the costumed mascot. But Charles fought back, sparking a melee that witnesses captured on video. When passions subsided, both Jimenez-Gerrero and Charles — who, ironically, had an outstanding warrant for fare-hopping — were in custody and remanded to the Hudson County jail.
Now, while the spectacle of a father fighting with the Easter Bunny is both deeply disturbing and darkly humorous, the reality facing the two men following their altercation is not at all funny. In New Jersey, aggravated assault is a crime, meaning it is a felony. The penalties for an aggravated assault conviction depend on the degree of the offense:
- Second-degree crime — Prison term of five to 10 years, fine up to $150,000, or both
- Third-degree crime — Prison sentence of three to five years, a fine up to $15,000, or both
- Fourth-degree crime — Prison sentence up to 18 months, a fine up to $10,000, or both
Mr. Charles might plead self-defense, but if the video shows he became the aggressor at any time, that defense could be lost.
Clearly, neither man comported himself well. But because of this incident, a father could be separated from his daughter for more than a year. And a young man, trying to build a work history, has not only lost his job but could also face extended incarceration.