Harassment

Indian accused of groping sleeping woman on US plane with wife beside him

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Federal authorities in Michigan arrested a 34-year-old man after a woman said that he sexually assaulted her on an overnight flight when she fell asleep next to him.

The man, Prabhu Ramamoorthy, who prosecutors said was an Indian national living in the United States on a temporary visa, was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and held without bail after an appearance in federal court in Michigan on Thursday.

Ramamoorthy is accused of abusing a 22-year-old sitting in a window seat next to him on a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas which landed in Detroit early on Jan. 3, even as his wife was by his side.

The victim told investigators that she woke up to find her pants and shirt unbuttoned and the man’s hand inside her pants.

Federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad said that Ramamoorthy sat between his wife and the victim. He stopped after the victim woke up, and the woman went to the back of the plane to report the incident to a flight attendant, the criminal complaint said.

Two flight attendants told federal investigators that the victim was crying and that her shirt was untied and that her pants were unbuttoned when she had reported the alleged attack at about 5:30 a.m., 40 minutes before the plane’s landing, Jawad said. The attendants kept the woman in the back of the plane and offered her a different seat, and while they were talking to the victim, Ramamoorthy’s wife came to the back of the plane to see what was going on, Jawad said.

Ramamoorthy was arrested after the plane landed, according to court documents.

He told agents in a written statement that he had taken a pill and fallen into a deep sleep, Jawad said, and that he hadn’t done anything besides learning from his wife that the 22-year-old woman was sleeping on his knees.

His wife told officials a similar story, and said that they had called the flight attendants to try to change seats. But the “flight attendants did not report that anyone asked them to change seats other than the victim,” Jawad said.

Both Ramamoorthy and his wife gave lengthier statements later indicating that the pill Ramamoorthy had taken was “plain Tylenol.”
Ramamoorthy gave “conflicting reports,” about what happened with the victim, Jawad said.

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