BREAKING NEWS Bear Fire: More evacuation orders reduced to warnings Full Story
SEVERE WX : Fire Weather Watch View Alerts
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Passenger accused of sexually assaulting sleeping woman on flight

Investigators arrested a man they say unbuttoned the shirt and pants of a sleeping female passenger and put his hand ...

Posted: Jan 7, 2018 5:32 AM
Updated: Jan 7, 2018 5:32 AM

Investigators arrested a man they say unbuttoned the shirt and pants of a sleeping female passenger and put his hand down her pants during a flight, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy faces a charge of aggravated sexual abuse after a 22-year-old woman accused him of assaulting her on a Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on Wednesday morning.

Man is accused of sexually abusing another passenger on flight to Detroit

Woman claims she was asleep

The case is just one alleged example of what some women have said is a hidden reality of commercial air travel. Though it's difficult to track how frequently assaults occur on flights, FBI investigations into midair sexual assaults have increased by 66% from fiscal year 2014 to 2017.

The federal public defender's office declined to comment on the Ramamoorthy case. Richard O'Neill, Ramamoorthy's appointed attorney, did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.

A detention hearing was held Thursday. According to the Detroit News, O'Neill said, "I have a hard time with some of these allegations but that's what a trial is for. There have been no allegations from anywhere that his behavior has ever been inappropriate prior to this incident."

The woman said she fell asleep leaning against the window, the complaint states. She woke up to a hand down her pants and noticed that her pants and her shirt were unbuttoned and the passenger next to her was fondling her, according to the complaint.

The passenger stopped when she woke up, and she immediately reported the incident to a flight attendant, the complaint states. Two flight attendants told investigators that the woman was visibly upset and was crying, the complaint states.

Ramamoorthy was taken into custody when the flight landed. He said in a written statement that he was in "deep sleep," the complaint states. He also said that the woman fell asleep on his knees and he is "not sure where [he] kept the hand on her."

"Through my knowledge I didn't [sic] anything to her," Ramamoorthy said, according to the complaint.

He gave a further statement in an interview with an FBI agent, saying that he "might have" undone the woman's bra while playing with it, and that he had cupped her breasts over her clothes, the complaint states. He indicated that he unzipped her pants part way and put his finger into her pants and tried to fondle her, the complaint states.

Ramamoorthy was ordered detained pending trial, based on the evidence against him and because he has significant family or ties outside the US, according to court documents.

Spirit Airlines said it is fully cooperating with law enforcement and referred questions to them.

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 796436

Reported Deaths: 15291
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2633336423
Riverside576951173
San Bernardino53121908
Orange525381176
San Diego45425767
Kern31647357
Fresno27944362
Sacramento21800393
Alameda20839395
Santa Clara20648300
San Joaquin20060434
Stanislaus16425342
Contra Costa16156202
Tulare15782257
Ventura12507146
Imperial11658317
San Francisco1090199
San Mateo9664144
Monterey964570
Santa Barbara8952111
Merced8803140
Kings754477
Sonoma7225120
Marin6620114
Solano623260
Madera442465
Placer352343
San Luis Obispo345327
Butte277640
Yolo277355
Santa Cruz22838
Sutter168610
Napa165213
San Benito131411
Yuba11337
El Dorado10784
Mendocino88718
Shasta75114
Lassen7360
Glenn5683
Tehama5294
Nevada5256
Colusa5226
Lake51611
Humboldt4906
Calaveras31414
Amador28716
Tuolumne2264
Inyo18714
Mono1652
Siskiyou1630
Del Norte1381
Mariposa752
Plumas500
Modoc250
Trinity150
Sierra60
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Chico
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 86°
Oroville
Clear
88° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 88°
Paradise
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 86°
Chester
Clear
72° wxIcon
Hi: 76° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 72°
Red Bluff
Clear
85° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 85°
Willows
Scattered Clouds
86° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 86°
A weak disturbance passed over northern California early this morning, but as expected, it only brought some gusty wind, a few clouds, slightly cooler weather, and no rain. Much bigger changes to our weather will occur this weekend.
KHSL Severe
KHSL Radar
KHSL Temperatures

Community Events