A man was taken into custody by federal authorities in Michigan after being accused of sexually assaulting a sleeping woman seated next to him on an overnight flight.
According to the Washington Post, Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 34, an Indian national living in the U.S. on a temporary visa, is facing charges of aggravated sexual abuse and is currently being held without bail, after prosecutors successfully argued that he was a flight risk and a potential danger to others.
Ramamoorthy allegedly sexually abused a 22-year-old woman sitting next to him while his wife was seated on his other side during a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit.
The victim told authorities that she woke up to find her pants and shirt unbuttoned with the man’s hand inside her pants. The man allegedly stopped his assault after the victim woke up, but the victim went to the back of the plane to report the incident to a flight attendant.
Two flight attendants confirm that the victim was crying and noted that her shirt was untied and her pants were unbuttoned when she reported the incident about 40 minutes before the plane landed. The attendants kept the woman toward the back of the plane, offering her a different seat.
While the attendants were speaking to the victim, Ramamoorthy’s wife showed up in the back of the plane to find out what was going on.
Ramamoorthy told investigators that he had fallen into a deep sleep after taking a pill, insisting that he hadn’t done anything and that his wife told him the young woman was sleeping on his knees. His wife gave a similar account, claiming that they had asked flight attendants if they could change seats. However, the “flight attendants did not report that anyone asked them to change seats other than the victim,” federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad said.
“It seems that she’s either colluding with the defendant to cover up his actions or she’s completely oblivious to what he did,” Jawad said, according to the Post. “What makes this offense particularly egregious and the defendant even more of a danger to the community is the fact that it took place on an airplane. He was brazen enough to do this basically in public, next to his wife, where anyone could have seen him.”
Ramamoorthy’s attorney, Richard O’Neill, on the other hand, maintained that his client had never been accused of inappropriate behavior before.
“There’s been no allegations from anywhere that his behavior has ever been inappropriate prior to this incident,” O’Neill said. “I have a hard time with some of these allegations, but that’s what a trial is for.”
Read more at the Washington Post.