Texas Man Allegedly Sexually Assaults Sleeping Airline Passenger

Police say the victim froze with fear after waking up to Alfredo Vela allegedly groping her.

A Texas man allegedly sexually assaulted a fellow passenger who was trying to sleep during a flight from Houston, Texas, to Nashville, Tennessee, on Sunday night, according to police.

Police were called after Southwest Airlines reported inappropriate sexual contact between two passengers on a flight, according to an arrest report obtained by Oxygen.com, and officers responded at Nashville International Airport.

The female victim told police that a man she didn’t know, later identified as 30-year-old Alfredo Vela IV, sat next to her on the plane. She added that she and Vela had a brief conversation before she fell asleep on the flight.

The victim told police that “she awoke to Mr. Vela rubbing her back with his hand,” the arrest report said.

Additionally, she accused Vela of rubbing her inner thigh, touching her breast and of trying to put his hand under her shirt. She said she froze with fear during the incident before she alerted the flight crew.

Vela claimed he was merely scratching the passenger’s back while she was asleep.

“It is evident that he committed unlawful sexual contact,” the police report said.

Vela was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was released on $5,000 bond Monday morning.

He is due to appear in court on October 19.

Southwest Airlines said in a statement that they have a zero-tolerance policy towards assault on their aircrafts.

“If our Crews are made aware of a harmful situation-whether witnessed first-hand or reported by someone else-our Flight Attendants are trained to notify the Pilots who will request law enforcement meet the aircraft upon landing, as appropriate,” the airline’s statement said, according to KTRK in Houston.

It appears that Vela’s actions are part of a larger trend of creeps attempting to join the “Mile High Club”—for sexual predators who don’t attempt to gain consent. FBI investigations into mid-air sexual assaults increased by 66 percent over the past few years according to KTRK.

[Photo: Nashville Police Department]

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