Today in news of masculinity so toxic, you’ll want to cuss out your computer or phone screen: the case of a New York City man who is standing trial for forcing his then-22-year-old girlfriend to walk naked through the streets of Harlem in January 2016 because he suspected that she was cheating on him.
In addition, prosecutors say, Jasson Melo, 26, beat his girlfriend—and the mother of his young daughter—for hours before forcing her out on the street, wrapped in a towel.
Melo has denied hitting the victim, despite police photos after the incident showing bruises on her face and body. Now he also claims that the naked walk of shame was her idea.
As the New York Daily News reports, on Tuesday, Melo told a New York County Supreme Court in Manhattan that he had caught the victim sexting with other men when he came back to their apartment at 5 a.m. after a night out.
He claimed that his girlfriend begged for his forgiveness and asked what she could do. That’s when he told her to walk naked through the street—an idea that he says is an African ritual for “when somebody gets cheated on.”
“You can do this. I’ll send this video to this guy so they can see you’re not single,” Melo testified, describing the alleged conversation with the victim.
His plan was to send the video to seven male contacts on the victim’s phone to prove that she was in a relationship.
But videos that Melo posted to Instagram documenting the victim’s walk of shame, and his apology afterward, may contradict his version of events. Melo filmed her walking out onto the public street and, at one point, stripped the towel away that she’d used to wrap herself.
The video of her abuse went viral.
He also filmed himself dancing and singing with friends shortly after punishing the victim. The day after, however, Melo posted an apology video to “all women,” asking them for forgiveness.
“I didn’t think this would get to this point,” Melo said in Spanish. “Maybe I made a mistake to do what I did, from the beginning, to take her out naked. I really regret this.”
Note that the apology was not directed at his girlfriend.
According to the Daily News, the victim testified that she had begged Melo not to make her go outside, but he threatened to beat her with a metal Buddha statue if she refused to meet his demands.
Melo is facing charges of coercion, assault and related counts.
Read more at the New York Daily News.