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Life Sentence Possible After Sex Assault on Sleeping Flier

Prabhu Ramamoorthy guilty of sexual attack on fellow Spirit Airlines passenger
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 19, 2018 5:09 PM CDT
A Spirit Airlines passenger jet plane, an Airbus 319 model, approaches Logan Airport in Boston, Thursday, May 24, 2018.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

(Newser) – A 35-year-old man who sexually abused a woman sleeping next to him on a Spirit Airlines flight may spend the rest of his life in prison. A federal jury last week convicted Prabhu Ramamoorthy of the abuse, and he faces a life term at his sentencing in December, reports the Detroit Free Press. Ramamoorthy is an Indian national who has been in the US on a work visa, and if he is ever released from jail in America, he would be immediately deported. The assault occurred on a late-night flight from Las Vegas to Detroit. The female passenger, in the window seat, says she woke with Ramamoorthy's hand down her pants, which had been unbuttoned. Her shirt was undone, too. She immediately went to the rear of the plane to alert flight attendants, and Ramamoorthy was arrested when the plane landed.

Prosecutors say Ramamoorthy penetrated the woman with his fingers. Another jarring detail from the case: Ramamoorthy was in the middle seat and his wife, who was not charged, was in the aisle seat. Ramamoorthy gave investigators conflicting stories, once saying he had taken a sleeping pill and was unaware of his actions. But he also acknowledged to an FBI agent that he "might have" unhooked the woman's bra while playing with it, per CNN. During the trial, his attorney suggested that Ramamoorthy was unfamiliar with the US court system and feared torture if he didn't confess, reports the Washington Post. It remained unclear whether he would appeal. “Everyone has the right to be secure and safe when they travel on airplanes," said US Attorney Matthew Schneider. “We appreciate the victim in this case for her courage to speak out.” (Read more Spirit Airlines stories.)

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