Cosplay Photographer Arrested In Connection With Brutal Comic-Con Attack Speaks Out
Update: Police say the teen cosplayer wasn't brutally attacked, but suffered a nasty fall.
The 29-year-old photographer arrested in connection with the beating of a teen at Comic-Con this weekend gave an interview about what happened that night.
Justin Kalior was arrested early on Sunday morning after a 17-year-old girl was found "unconscious and bloody" in the pool area at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina where Comic-Con is held. (Her mom initially said it was "on the side of the road.") San Diego Harbor Police say he's being charged with sexual contact with a minor and providing her alcohol.
The girl's memory is fuzzy, so police aren't sure whether Kalior was involved in the attack. No one including Kalior has been charged with assault in the case, and police say there may be other suspects, according to NBC San Diego.
Kalior is photographer who runs the YouTube channel and Facebook page Project Cosplay. He told Polygon his story about what happened that night. Kalior says that he is friends with the victim who lives in Lake Elsinore, and he insists the two weren't romantically involved. He offered to drive her to Comic-Con. He took pictures at the convention, while she was dressed up like Roger Rabbit.
The pair had gone to a party in a hotel room that had been broken up after a noise complaint, San Diego Harbor police Sgt. Todd Rakos told the Union-Tribune. Kalior says the pair didn't have sex, and he didn't give her alcohol. The pair stayed until around midnight when they got into a fight about leaving. He told Polygon that he wanted to call it a night and bring her back to her home, but she wanted to stay: "She ran off and I didn't follow. She didn't answer the phone. She was gone for so long I asked security if they had seen her."
Her mom told NBC that she also lost contact with her daughter at one point, which unnerved her: "My daughter was great about checking in all day with me with her phone and when I lost contact with her I kept trying to contact her and I knew something was wrong."
About an hour after Kalior says he last saw her, the victim was found still wearing her costume. Kalior says he was with security when they got the call about her around 1:15 a.m. It sounds like the initial report saying that she was found without an ID was also wrong. Kalior said police searched her purse and found out that she was 17—in fact Sunday was her birthday. Kalior said he was under the impression that she was 20.
Kalior wrote on his Facebook page in a post (that looks like it has since been taken down):
"This past weekend, I attended SDCC and came back with lots of pictures, but I don't feel it's an appropriate time to share them due to the fact my close friend [redacted] was assaulted and left in critical condition at the convention. This has been a few very hard days for me. I wasn't there for her when this happened and I regret every second. I just hope that she pulls through this with a safe and fast recovery. Please pray for her."
The victim was treated in an intensive care unit for skull and eye-socket fractures and cerebral hemorrhaging, Polygon says. Her dad wrote on his Facebook page, "Worst night ever... daughter in ICU San Diego brain bleed still waiting for answers. I love you [redacted]. Get well. Falling apart..." Her mom wrote on hers, "A better day.....each day she is getting better...very grateful."
"It's just so sad, that on her birthday she had one of the most horrific things happen to her," her mother told NBC. She added, "Somebody knows something and they’re just not saying it. I just want them to come forward. Be brave."