Bethenny Frankel claims she was a victim of alarming New York City punching trend

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Bethenny Frankel has revealed in a TikTok comment that she was a victim of the alarming New York City punching trend.

In a comment on fashion student Mikayla Toninato’s viral TikTok video, the former reality TV star shared her experience. Toninato admitted in the video that she was punched in the face while leaving a class in the city.

“I turned the corner and I was looking down at my phone and texting, and then out of nowhere this man just came up and hit me in the face,” Toninato said in the video. “I just texted my friends like: ‘Hi, I just got punched in the face,’ and then they sent me a TikTok of this other girl in New York who got punched in the face.”

“I don’t know if this is like a thing that’s going around,” Toninato continued. “But I guess if you’re in New York right now and you’re walking while looking at your phone, maybe don’t do that.”

Frankel wrote in the comment section: “This is insane [because] this happened to me a few months ago but I was embarrassed to say.”

“I was on the [Upper West Side],” Frankel added. “Insane. I was taking a video of a bakery.”

On 28 March, Frankel came out with her own TikTok video, talking at length about her experience.

“I was in New York City looking for an apartment and I stopped at this cute little deli bakery tiny place and I walked in and I was shooting the baked goods.”

“And as I turned around,” she continued. “I was walking out the door and this guy punched me.”

She added that the man - who she later identified as homeless - didn’t assault her with a closed fist, so it was less of a punch and more of a smack.

“I was completely stunned,” she said, noting that her driver and security guard initially tried to confront the guy. At the time, she attributed the assault to the crime occurring throughout the pandemic. However, since it’s become a trend, she decided to come forward with her story.

Frankel’s admission comes on the heels of more and more women continuing to come forward with their experiences of being punched in the face by strangers.

The multiple incidents have reportedly happened within days of each other, and within only a few miles of each other. More people began to share their experiences on TikTok after influencer Halley Kate shared that she was “punched in the face” by a man in Manhattan on 25 March.

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” she told her 1.1 million followers as she fought tears. She showed that she had developed a large welt on the side of her forehead due to the assault. “Oh my god, it hurts so bad. I can’t even talk. Literally, I fell to the ground and now this giant goose egg is forming.”

In a follow-up video, the influencer added that she had been “walking on the sidewalk” and looking down at her phone when she was physically assaulted by an unidentified male. She recalled: “This man - I don’t know if he punched me or if he elbowed me; I literally passed out so I don’t really remember - but I think he just was really mad that my head was down.”

When the incident occurred, she noticed that the man had been walking a dog. She said that once she was punched, she fell to the ground and “blacked out for a second”. Once she awoke, Halley said the man was screaming at her before she ultimately ran away. She said she filed a report with the police, who informed her that the incident “matched” another police report detailing another assault.

The New York City police department recently confirmed to NBC News that they have multiple active investigations into at least two similar assaults. However, the NYPD did not confirm nor deny that the assaults were the very same as the recent TikTok videos.

The New York Police Department has since made an arrest in connection to influencer Kate’s assault. Skiboky Stora, a 40-year-old East New York resident, was charged with assault on Wednesday 27 March, though police did not say if Stora was a suspect in any of the other incidents.

“The NYPD is aware of a viral video circulating on social media depicting a woman who was randomly assaulted in an unprovoked attack,” the NYPD posted on their official X account. “The individual has been arrested and charged and is a criminal recidivist with an extensive criminal record. Your NYPD detectives were able to identify the man after he was previously arrested for similar attacks, only to be released back onto our streets.

“This incident will be his third arrest in the past six months,” the post continued. “Your officers will continue to remain resilient in their efforts to stop violent criminals, ensuring the safety of our communities.”