Flier Charged With Groping Sleeping Woman
Veerabhadrarao Kunam accused of in-air sexual abuse on Virgin America flight
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 3, 2016 11:16 AM CDT
A Virgin America plane taxis before takeoff on April 4, 2016, at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – A woman who dozed off during an overnight flight Saturday from Los Angeles to Newark says she woke to the stranger next to her touching her inappropriately, the Record reports. Per the criminal complaint described in a Justice Department release: The woman awoke on her Virgin America flight to find 58-year-old Veerabhadrarao Kunam of India fondling her genitals over her clothing and touching his bare feet with his own. The woman says she then informed her male traveling partner, and he gave her his window seat so he could face down Kunam, who then allegedly offered to buy the man a drink so everyone could forget what happened. Instead, the male companion told a crew member.

In a statement, a Virgin America spokesman said that crew responded to "reports of a disruptive individual" and placed him in a different seat before contacting authorities. The FBI was waiting to take him into custody when the plane landed early Sunday—the DOJ release explains that the feds have jurisdiction over any sexual abuse cases that take place on domestic flights. Kunam was charged with abusive sexual contact and released Monday on $50,000 bond. He faces a $250,000 fine and two years in prison. (A teen says she recently faced her own groping horror on an American Airlines flight.)