A 29-year-old cosplay photographer was arrested Sunday morning at the San Diego Marriott Marquis and Marina hotel in connection with the discovery of a bloodied and unconscious 17-year-old cosplayer in town for San Diego Comic-Con.
Justin Kalior was arrested early Sunday morning, July 27, in the hotel at 333 West Harbor Drive, police told Polygon. He was booked into San Diego County Jail later that day on charges of sexual contact with a minor and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, according to a police press release. Kalior was not charged with assault and police have not clarified if they are looking for another suspect in the case, saying only that the investigation is ongoing.
The girl, who turned 17 Sunday and whose name is being withheld to protect her identity, has regained consciousness but is still hospitalized.
Kalior told Polygon that he is friends with the victim and that he drove her to the convention that day so they could both attend. She was dressed as a female Roger Rabbit and he was planning on spending the day taking pictures of cosplayers. He said the two do not have any relationship beyond a friendship and that he doesn't know what happened to her. He denied having sex with the victim or giving her any alcohol.
According to Kalior, he and the victim were in the lobby of the hotel, which is often used for Comic-Con events, around midnight Sunday morning when the two got into an argument about leaving.
"I just wanted to call it a night and take her home to her parents and be on my way...," he said. "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."
About an hour later, he said, security found the girl unconscious and bloodied in the hotel's pool area. He added he was with security when they heard she had been discovered and police were notified. The hotel manager did not return calls seeking comment.
"When the police searched her purse it stated she was 17," Kalior said, adding that he thought she was 20. Kalior was arrested at the scene and later released on bond.
The girl was taken to a local hospital's intensive care unit where she was treated for skull and eye-socket fractures and cerebral hemorrhaging, among other injuries.
Kalior, who also goes by the name Stuntman Justin, runs a YouTube channel and Facebook page called Project Cosplay. In his latest Facebook update, posted early Wednesday morning after his arrest and subsequent release, Kalior said he attended San Diego Comic-Con but doesn't feel like it is appropriate to share the photos he took because of what happened to a "close friend." He said the victim was "assaulted and left in critical condition at the convention."
"This has been a few very hard days for me," he wrote. "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 girl's mother posted on her Facebook page that she received a call from police early Sunday morning, July 27, saying that her daughter was "found on the side of the road covered in blood with no ID unconscious."
Sunday night the girl's father updated his Facebook page, writing, "Worst night ever... daughter in ICU San Diego brain bleed still waiting for answers. I love you. Get well. Falling apart..."
Tuesday morning, the mother updated her Facebook account to say the teen was improving. "A better day ... each day she is getting better ... very grateful."
News of the apparent attack kicked off a wave of support from both the cosplayer community and other San Diego Comic-Con attendees. The victim's mother declined to comment for this story, but said she did want to talk in the future about the support the cosplayer community gave her family.
Friends and strangers sent tips to both the San Diego Harbor Police and the family, hoping to help them piece together what happened Saturday night. They also sent well wishes to the family.
"My positive thoughts are with your family," one wrote. "I have private messaged you with some information. I am so sorry for this time."
Another wrote: "From Chile with all of the love. Hope to have any good news soon! The cosplayer community here in my country are in shock about what happened."
Update: Police have concluded their investigation. They say the teen's injuries are consistent with a fall.