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Drunken groper fondled woman’s breast on flight, charges say

April 28, 2014 Aviation, Headline News No Comments Email Email

egtmedia59A man on an international flight is said to have molested a sleeping female passenger by placing his hand down the woman’s shirt and groping her breast for about five minutes, prosecutors allege.

The incident is said to have taken place in full view of shocked passengers, who did not intervene to stop the groper but reported the man’s actions to cabin crew afterwards.

The victim was aboard British Airways flight 285 from London to San Francisco when she was assaulted by Vinay Pochampally, a fellow passenger unknown to her who was said to be drunk, according to a US District Court criminal complaint. Documents filed and quoted by US website The Smoking Gun (which specialises in publishing court documents, and similar) say the molestation occurred about two hours into the flight.

The female passenger was seated in row 37, just forward of the galley and restroom area.

Pochampally, who was assigned a seat in row 36 of the B747, the row in front of the sleeping woman, “positioned himself in the gap behind row 37 and in front of the bulkhead” during the flight, FBI Agent Bianca Betz reported in a sworn affidavit.

“While in that gap, Pochampally inserted his hand, palm-side down, into the shirt of the sleeping female passenger,” Betz stated. Pochampally’s hand was “underneath the passenger’s shirt and undergarments for approximately four to five minutes, making skin-to-skin contact in the breast and upper chest area,” Betz added.

The site reports that when the woman awoke, Pochampally removed his hand from her shirt and ran away down the plane’s aisle. The criminal complaint states that “multiple passengers witnessed the incident” and told crew members what occurred.

British Airways cabin crew “found Pochampally to be intoxicated” when they confronted him after learning of the molestation incident. They told him to shift to a different seat for the rest of the 10-hour flight.

Police met the aircraft in San Francisco and arrested Pochampally, who was later charged with simple assault in a San Francisco federal court.

Written by Peter Needham

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