SUNSET PARK — A mixed martial arts fighter who earned his reputation "fighting on the mean streets of Brooklyn" claims he beat two teens near a mosque this weekend to defend his fiancée from a sexual assault, his lawyer and relatives said.
Christopher Vallaro, 31, was arraigned Thursday morning on assault charges after attacking a 16- and 17-year-old outside the Madine Muslim Community Center on Sunday, July 3 at about 1:15 a.m. at Third Avenue and 53rd Street, authorities said.
The amateur MMA middleweight fighter was charged with attempted assault, assault, menacing and harassment, according to the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office.
The suspect was not charged with a hate crime, though one of the victims said in a video that Vallaro called him a "terrorist" during the beating.
Vallaro's uncle John Schiavone, 66 said the attack was instigated by the teenagers, who cornered Vallaro's fiancée in her car and made sexual comments about her.
"They were in the window telling her filthy things, he was just protecting her," said Schiavone. "What he did was 100 percent right."
Vallaro's attorney, Sal Strazzullo, said the teens "were putting their hands into the car, accosting her sexually" while Vallaro had gone into his home nearby. When he came out, he heard his girlfriend screaming for help, the attorney said.
"There was no indication of any racism," according to Strazzullo.
Police have also said the assault was the result of the teens' remarks. However, the victims said they did nothing to prompt the attack.
"We didn't do anything against him," Ahmad Emrech, one of the victim's said in the video posted Monday. "While he was hitting me, he was calling me a terrorist."
Madine Muslim Community Center director Mohamed Bahe, who told Buzzfeed News the teenagers approached the woman to offer her help, said he was surprised by the charges.
"Obviously, I'm disappointed," Bahe told DNAinfo on Thursday. "All fingers pointed toward this being a hate crime."
According to the criminal complaint, Vallaro punched the teen in the face and head multiple times before slamming the victim onto the sidewalk, and kicking and stomping on his head.
Vallaro then chased the second victim, who was riding on his bicycle. He grabbed the victim's shoulders and threw him of the cycle, then began punching him in the face, the complaint said.
Both victims suffered bruising, swelling, bleeding, scrapes and black eyes as a result of the attack.
Vallaro is an amateur fighter who weighs in at 175 pounds with six wins and three losses on his record.
His bail was set at $25,000. His next court appearance is scheduled for July 20.