A Hempstead man facing arson charges in connection with a 2016 house fire that permanently injured a 12-year-old girl was ordered held on $1 million bond or $500,000 cash bail, Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas announced Wednesday.
Christful Fouse, 36, was arraigned Tuesday before Judge Meryl Berkowitz on charges of first-, second- and third-degree arson, first- and second-degree assault and first-degree reckless endangerment. He had not posted bail as of Wednesday night, according to court records.
If convicted, Fouse faces a maximum of 25-years-to-life in prison. He is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 19.
Fouse’s attorney, Andrew Monteleone, could not immediately be reached Wednesday night for comment.
At about 9:20 a.m. on June 30, 2016, Fouse entered a house on Long Beach Road in Hempstead and "got into a physical altercation with three acquaintances," Singas said in a statement detailing Fouse's indictment.
Fouse left, Singas said, only to return about 10 to 15 minutes later with a bottle filled with gasoline. He then poured the gasoline on a first-floor couch and set it on fire, authorities said. The blaze eventually engulfed the two-story home, forcing a 12-year-old girl sleeping in an upstairs bedroom to climb out a window and jump, authorities said.
The girl, now 16 years old, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow and diagnosed with a fractured spine as well as fractures to her right foot that left her with a permanent limp, Singas said. The girl now has screws and other "implanted hardware" that will remain in her foot for life, the district attorney said.
"A 12-year-old girl nearly died when she jumped from a second-floor window to escape a house fire that this defendant allegedly set to settle a score," Singas said. "I'm grateful to the firefighters and paramedics who treated this young victim and [am] committed to holding the alleged arsonist accountable for this horrifically reckless crime."
Following the fire, authorities said, Fouse fled. Nassau County police arrested him in Hempstead on March 16 of this year.