American low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines. Picture: Spirit Airlines
American low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines. Picture: Spirit Airlines

Woman’s shocking in-flight horror

A MAN is accused of sexually assaulting a young woman as she slept on an overnight flight from Las Vegas to Detroit this week, according to reports.

The 22-year-old victim was sitting in a window seat next to 34-year-old Prabhu Ramamoorthy on the Wednesday Spirit Airlines flight when she woke up to find her pants and shirt unbuttoned, and the man's hand inside her pants, the Washington Post reported.

Ramamoorthy - who prosecutors say is an Indian national living in the US on a temporary visa - was charged with aggravated sexual abuse and ordered held without bail in a Thursday federal court appearance, according to the report.

The victim claimed that Ramamoorthy had shoved his fingers in her genitals and "vigorously" moved them, finally stopping when she woke up, according to a federal complaint obtained by the Detroit Free Press.

The tearful woman reported the ordeal to flight attendants, and Ramamoorthy was arrested after the plane landed. He later told an FBI agent that he "might have" undone the victim's bra while playing with it, cupped her clothed breast, partly unzipped her pants, and put his finger in her pants, the complaint said.

He also claimed he had tried to put his finger in the woman's vagina but was unsuccessful, according to the complaint.

Before speaking with the agent, Ramamoorthy made a written statement claiming that he was in a deep sleep and the woman fell asleep on his knees, the complaint said. He claimed he wasn't sure "where [he] kept [his] hand on her."

Ahead of a Thursday afternoon hearing, Magistrate Judge R. Steven Whalen ordered Ramamoorthy jailed, the Detroit Free Press reported. He is permitted to request the government to notify his home country to help with legal representation and contact his relatives, according to the report.

The disturbing incident occurred as Ramamoorthy's wife sat to his other side, federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad told the Washington Post.

"It seems that she's either colluding with the defendant to cover up his actions or she's completely oblivious to what he did," she insisted. "What makes this offence particularly egregious and the defendant even more of a danger to the community is the fact that it took place on an aeroplane. He was brazen enough to do this basically in public, next to his wife where anyone could have seen him."

Ramamoorthy's lawyer, Richard O'Neill, said his client had worked as a project manager at a technology group for about two-and-a-half years, according to the Washington Post. He had offered to turn over his client's passport.

"There's been no allegations from anywhere that his behaviour 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."

Spirit Airlines spokesman Stephen Schuler told the outlet that it was co-operating with law enforcement on the investigation.

This article originally appeared on New York Post and was reproduced with permission.

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