Sexual assault is terrible, period. Sexual assault on airplanes, though, poses specific challenges: You have nowhere to go, and flight attendants are often not equipped to deal with the transgression. In 2016, one woman live-tweeted her experience being groped on a flight. In January 2018, on an overnight Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit, another woman was sexually assaulted by the man sitting next to her. Thankfully, in this case, the airline took swift action on the woman’s part and her assaulter was taken into custody as soon as they landed.
CNN reported that the 22-year-old woman fell asleep during the flight and woke to find that her pants and shirt were undone, and the passenger’s hand was down her pants. She immediately told a flight attendant, and 35-year-old Prabhu Ramamoorthy was taken into custody when the plane landed.
Ramamoorthy seemed to change his story several times. While he admitted to cupping the woman’s breasts outside her clothes, playing with her bra, unzipping her pants, and putting a finger into her pants, he also claimed that he was in a “deep sleep” and that the woman fell asleep on his knees and he wasn’t sure where he touched her.
A federal jury reached a guilty verdict on Thursday, August 16th, 2018, and it’s being reported Ramamoorthy could face life in prison.
His sentencing date is on December 12th, and because he is in the U.S. on a work visa, he will be deported immediately after finishing his sentence.
CNN reported that FBI investigations into airplane sexual assaults have increased by 66% from 2014 to 2017 and that most transgressions do not end in a proper trial like the one mentioned above. Several women who have spoken to CNN about their abuse by fellow passengers lamented that flight attendants were helpless and law enforcement was rarely involved.