Times Square Spider-Man fined for punching tourist

NEW YORK Wed Jun 18, 2014 4:01pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A street performer in New York City's Times Square who dresses as Spider-Man found himself on the wrong end of justice on Wednesday when he was fined $370 for punching a tourist who pelted him with snow.

Philip Williams, 36, who traded in his blue and red Spidey costume for a brown coat, khakis and a blue tie for the trial at Manhattan Criminal Court, was found guilty of harassment stemming from last year's incident, in which he was accused of slugging tourist Victoria Goreaciuc.

But he was cleared of a more serious attempted assault charge which carried a possible jail term.

"Mr. Williams is not Spider-Man. He has no Spidey sense, no bulletproof costume or super human powers. He is just a human being, who thought that physical force was being used against him, and he acted in self defense," Williams' attorney, Rachel Black, said in her closing argument.

In February 2013, Goreaciuc, 46, had her two children pose for a photograph with the costumed Williams in Times Square as part of a birthday treat. Williams asked for a tip, and when she declined, he cursed at her, the court heard.

Goreaciuc left the area but came back an hour later, still apparently incensed over the slight, and pelted Williams with snow. Williams reacted by punching her in the head, prosecutors said.

"The defendant is more super villain than superhero," prosecutor Andrew Stengel told the court. "But there’s nothing funny or even slightly humorous about what the defendant did to Victoria Goreaciuc and her family."

"If you want to do this thing, put the costume on and be a role model to kids, then you have to be a role model," Judge Anthony Ferrara told Williams. "If you want to go back to Times Square, I hope you learned your lesson from this proceeding and I hope you behave better."

The incident is the latest unsavory episode involving the dozens of people who roam Times Square dressed as superheroes and cartoon characters and pose for photos or hugs with tourists.

In April 2013, a costumed Cookie Monster was arrested for shoving a two-year-old child whose mother failed to tip him, and in 2012 a man dressed as Elmo was arrested for making an anti-Semitic tirade.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner, editing by Jill Serjeant and Cynthia Osterman)