A New York woman dubbed “Cornerstore Caroline” has sparked outrage after a video showing her calling the police on a 9-year-old boy she falsely accused of sexually assaulting her in a Brooklyn store went viral. The has been identified as 53-year-old Teresa Sue Klein.
Surveillance video from the store shows that the boy did not grab or sexually assault Klein. He accidentally bumped into her as he was walking out of the store with his mother and sibling. Klein later watched the video herself and admitted she was wrong and the boy accidentally brushed against her, according to WNBC-TV.
It was posted on Facebook on October 10 by Jason Littlejohn hours after the incident. Klein could not be reached for comment by Heavy. The woman and child Klein called the police on have not been identified and has not spoken out about the incident. A GoFundMe has been started by activist Michael Skolnik to help with his education. You can make a donation here.
“As I walked up I noticed the argument, apparently the kid brushed up against her and she said he touched her and decided to call police on a nine year old child. As you can see the kid is crying and the mom is upset,” Littlejohn wrote on Facebook. The video has been viewed millions of times since it was posted Wednesday night. The incident happened at Sahara Deli Market on Albemarle Road in Flatbush, according to WPIX-TV.
“The little kid thought he was going to go to jail for something he didn’t do,” Littlejohn told The New York Times. “I thought it was someone calling police for unnecessary reasons, especially on a child. You think something like this only happens in the South, but it’s all over the world. He’s going to be traumatized for the rest of his life. This is something that will stick with him.”
Here’s what you need to know about Teresa Sue Klein and the viral “Cornerstore Caroline” incident:
1. Klein Can Be Heard in the Video Telling the Police She Was ‘Sexually Assaulted by a Child,’ While Bystanders Yell at Her to Go Home & Shaming Her for the 911 Call
In the video, Teresa Klein can be heard saying, “I want the cops here right now.” As she talks to a 911 dispatcher, a child can be heard crying and screaming for his mom as the mother tries to calm her kids down. Klein appears to acknowledge that she is being filmed because of her 911 call. “A white lady calls the cops on a black lady, I get it. Yeah, they’re videotaping.”
Klein can then be heard telling the dispatcher, “the son grabbed my ass. And she decided to yell at me. There are security cameras,” she said she wanted officers to come to get the “security tape for evidence.” As she talks to the dispatcher, bystanders can be heard telling Klein to leave and go home.
Klein then waves to the camera as the boy continues crying “mommy.” Littlejohn then calls Klein “Cornerstore Caroline,” while telling the boy not to cry. Klein then tells the dispatcher, while also yelling at Littlejohn, “I was just sexually assaulted by a child.”
At that point in the video, the mother and her children left the area. Klein can be heard telling the dispatcher that she is either going to go down to the local precinct or the officers can come to her apartment so she can tell them what happened.
As Klein finishes her conversation with the 911 dispatcher, another white woman arrives at the scene and learns what is going on. “Is she serious?” the unidentified woman can be heard asking, after she is told that Klein was calling the police. Klein then turns to Littlejohn and waves at him, saying, “upload that to World Star,” a reference to the viral video and hip-hop site.
The other woman then tries to intervene, telling Klein, “Go away. What is your problem? I’m calling you out. You can’t just call the police on a child.”
After the other woman tells her she is “shameful,” Klein says, “Oh honey. You cannot shame me. You are a child. You are young enough to be my daughter. When you’re 53-years-old…” She then gets into the woman’s face and says, “do what? do what? do what?” while another bystander tries to break them up. Klein tells the other woman, “from one white girl to another, make the point to the entire audience.”
The video ends after a few more seconds of arguing between the two women.
2. Surveillance Video Shows the Boy’s Backpack Rubbing Against Klein, Not Him Groping Her
Surveillance video, which you can watch above, shows that the boy did not sexually assault or grope Teresa Klein. The video, which does not have any audio, shows Klein leaning over the counter at the store when the boy walks behind her after his mother. As he accidentally brushes against her with his side and backpack, Klein turns around and looks at him. The video shows Klein then arguing with the mother.
The surveillance video ends with Klein taking out her phone and calling the police.
WPIX-TV reports that Klein did call 911 and NYPD officers arrived about 17 minutes after her call. They did not file a report because everyone had left the scene, according to Ramos.
“Calling the authorities on innocent children puts unnecessary pressure on an already stretched police force, puts young people needlessly at risk for altercations with law enforcement, and instills fear, terror, anguish, and distrust in our communities,” Congresswoman Yvette Clarke told Bklyner. “I expect this situation to be handled in an appropriate and professional manner.”
3. Klein Offered an Apology to the Boy After Seeing the Surveillance Video, but Says She Is Not Racist & She Let ‘Her Temper Show’
Teresa Sue Klein spoke to WPIX-TV and stood by her story, the news station reports. She told reporters, “I was standing at the counter, and I was sexually assaulted. I understand how it looks but she escalated and then I lost my temper at her not at that child.”
Klein said she has been harassed since the video went viral and told the news station she thought she had been sexually assaulted. “As far as I could tell from the way it felt on my butt, that’s what had happened. It’s not the first time I’ve been grabbed in the ass by a kid.”
She returned to the store on Friday and watched the surveillance video. While there, Klein was confronted by neighbors and reporters, according to the New York Post. Klein told The Post, “I would like to apologize to her daughter and her son but not to her (the boy’s mother). She could have walked away, but she didn’t. I’m also a Buddhist, [but] I let my temper show,” Klein said.
“I’ve been called racist before, and I’m not,” Klein added.
According to WABC-TV, she gave a message to the boy after watching the surveillance footage, telling reporters, “I was wrong. Young man, I don’t know your name but I’m sorry.”
WPIX reports that the interview with Klein was interrupted by neighbors who said they have had enough of Klein and told reporters she has a history of calling the police.
Klein told the news station, “Maybe I could sit down with the young lady who got in my face, maybe we could do the interview together. I hold no grudges whatsoever.”
Jason Littlejohn, who recorded the video and posted it online, told WPIX, “How could he be sexually assaulted by a nine-year-old child who is walking by. He was so traumatized by the situation he started crying, his sister started crying.”
4. She Says in the Video ‘I’m a Cop,’ but Klein Is Talking About What She Says the Boy’s Mother Told, Not Speaking About Herself
In the video, Klein claims that the woman told her she is a police officer and flashed some sort of badge while threatening to arrest her. Klein tells the other white woman that she wasn’t calling the police on the child, but on his police officer mother.
It has not been confirmed that the woman whose child Klein was accused of sexual assault is a police officer. Some on social media mistakenly thought that Klein said she herself was a police officer, but Klein was actually quoting the other woman when she said “I’m a cop.”
Witnesses said the mother was telling Klein she was going to call the police, which Klein possibly misheard as her saying she was a cop.
“His mother was saying she was going to call the police. Me and my son were recording it, thinking if the white [woman] call the police, who knows, maybe the mom could go to jail,” Joni Torian, who witnessed the dispute, told the New York Post. “The mother was right behind him when she says he grabbed her very flat behind. Ain’t no mama gonna let her child sexually assault a woman. [The customer] started yelling, ‘Miss, you need to watch your son, he just grabbed my ass.’ It was kind of funny at first, but then she was saying, ‘I will call the cops.’”
Klein told The New York Post that the mother did claim to be a police officer and flashed a badge. She also says the mother called to threaten her after the incident, leaving a voicemail. None of that has been proved. “A woman charged at me and flashed a badge and said that she would arrest me,” she told The New York Times, “and I called 911.”
She told WABC-TV that she would still like to press charges against the mother for allegedly threatening her life. “I called 911 because this woman was very aggressive,” Klein told the news station.
According to WPIX-TV reporter Andrew Ramos, the owner of the store where the incident happened said Klein has a history of “being unwell.”
5. Klein Is a Missouri Who Pursued a Ph.D in Biochemistry at the University of Missouri & Has Worked as an Actress & Performer, but Her Neighbors Say She Has a Racist History
Klein has deleted her social media profiles after being called out by viewers of the viral video, some of whom have shared her personal information on Twitter and Facebook. It is not clear if she has filed a police report over the incident. She did not return requests for comment from Heavy to her phone number and email address.
Klein is a Missouri native who went to the University of Missouri to study sociology. Klein, originally from Farmington, Missouri, graduated from the college in 1987. She has also been a performer and actress. Klein returned to the University of Missouri around 2008 to complete her Ph.D in biochemistry.
Klein told The New York Post she is an unemployed “feminist and humanist.” Her neighbors told The Post that Klein has a history of racist incidents, including calling 911. Some said she has written “racial slurs” on the sidewalk.
About those accusations, Klein told the newspaper, “I have no idea what they’re talking about.”
Hazel Freeman, a pastor who lives in the same building as Klein, told The Post, “People moved out of the building because of her. She’s terrorizing the building. She would call me up and tell me my son is smoking weed in the hallway. He’s married and he lives in Canarsie.”
Nahounha Alexandre, who works at a nearby Baptist church, told The New York Times the apology given by Klein isn’t enough unless she also drops her complaints about the boy’s mother. “She hurt all of us in this community because when you accuse that one little boy of doing something, you also accuse all of us,” Alexandre told the newspaper.