A 16-year-old girl has sued United Airlines for failing to take appropriate action when she was sexually assaulted on a flight from Seattle to Newark.
The girl was flying alone for the first time in July 2017 to attend a young women's leadership conference at Princeton University. She dozed off and woke up when the man seated next to her, a physician named Vijaykumar Krishnappa, 29, started touching her knee in the dark cabin. He was later charged, pled guilty, and was sentenced to 90 days in jail.
The girl thought at first that the touch was unintentional, but the man's hand went up her thigh and onto her groin area, over her leggings. She said, as this was happening, she felt "trapped and afraid" but called for help when the perpetrator slid his hand into the waistband of her pants, according to court documents.
However, according to the girl, United Airlines' flight crew did little to protect her. According to one of the girl's attorneys, the crew members violated federal law by failing to report the assault to law enforcement.
When the victim called for help, one flight attendant who responded simply said to the assailant, "Not cool, dude," and ushered the young girl, who was crying hysterically, to a new seat a few rows ahead, where she was still in the perpetrator's line of vision for the next four hours. The crew, then, offered the girl a bag of peanuts and neglected to investigate the incident further.
When the plane landed, the perpetrator was allowed to walk away freely without being detained.
The teen called her mother to tell her what happened. The girl never made it to the conference, and her mother had to fly out to meet her and escort her to the police to file a report. The FBI conducted the investigation because sexual assault aboard an aircraft is a federal crime.
Investigators were able to identify the passenger who attacked the girl through the flight manifest. The girl later identified the perpetrator in a photo lineup.
The teen alleges in this lawsuit that United Airlines "failed to take reasonable and common-sense steps to protect" her from sexual assault, and that United did nothing to report the matter to law enforcement. Kristine Solomon "Lawsuit claims that United Airlines flight crew failed to report sexual assault of teen passenger" https://finance.yahoo.com (Jan. 23, 2019).