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Not guilty plea in McDonald’s attack


Woman punches teen girl in Long Beach

A woman who was arrested for allegedly attacking a 13-year-old girl in a crime caught on cell phone video inside a McDonald's restaurant in Harbor City pleaded not guilty today to a misdemeanor child abuse charge.

Ariana Lauifi, who will turn 32 Tuesday, was initially charged Oct. 2 with a felony count of child abuse under circumstances or conditions likely to cause great bodily injury or death, but the charge was reduced Monday to a misdemeanor at the request of the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

“After careful review of the evidence, based on the totality of the circumstances, we've determined that the case does not rise to the level of a felony filing,'' according to a statement from the District Attorney's Office.

Lauifi was arrested Sept. 28 by the Los Angeles Police Department and released on $100,000 bond just before 1 a.m. Oct. 2, jail records show.

She is suspected in the Sept. 6 attack on 13-year-old Kassidy Jones, who went into the restaurant in the 1700 block of Lomita Boulevard with friends when she was attacked, seemingly without provocation.

Police credited tips from the public for leading investigators to Lauifi. There was still no word on a possible motivation for the attack, which left Kassidy with facial bruises.

The girl's family issued a statement saying they were “extremely grateful that the LAPD has made an arrest of the woman who viciously beat Kassidy in an unprovoked attack inside McDonald's, as McDonald's managers and onlookers offered no help  in stopping the assault.

“Kassidy is still traumatized and undergoing therapy. But hopefully this news will give her encouragement that justice will be served.''

Lauifi was ordered not to have any contact with the teen. She is due back in a Long Beach courtroom Dec. 7 for a pretrial hearing.