Police in Michigan have arrested Prabhu Ramamoorthy after his seatmate on a flight accused him of sexual assault. According to The Washington Post, Ramamoorthy is an Indian citizen with a temporary visa in the United States. He was charged with aggravated sexual abuse.
Ramamoorthy is accused of non-consensually groping a 22-year-old woman on a Spirit Airlines flight. He was sitting next to his wife at the time of the attack. The victim awoke from her slumber to find his hand in her unzipped pants and her shirt undone.
The woman reported the incident to flight attendants upon waking. The flight attendants have confirmed that the woman was crying and had her clothes undone at about 5:30am, 40 minutes before the flight was scheduled to land. The woman was offered a vacant seat away from Ramamoorthy while the attendants questioned him. He claims he had taken a pill and was sleeping the entire time.
Federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad said that Ramamoorthy gave “conflicting reports” of his story. Ramamoorthy is currently being held without bail.
“It seems that [the wife is] either colluding with the defendant to cover up his actions or she’s completely oblivious to what he did,” Jawad argued. “What makes this offense particularly egregious and the defendant even more of a danger to the community is the fact that it took place on an airplane. He was brazen enough to do this basically in public, next to his wife where anyone could have seen him.”
“There’s been no allegations from anywhere that his behavior has ever been inappropriate prior to this incident,” said Ramamoorthy’s lawyer, Richard O’Neill, who has offered to turn over his client's passport. “I have a hard time with some of these allegations, but that’s what a trial is for.”
Stephen Schuler, a spokesman for Spirit, said that the company is fully cooperating with the investigation.
A Seattle Times report on sexual assault in airplanes says that occurances of this kind are unfortunately fairly common, with one in five flight attendants saying they've delt with a complaint. Police were ultimately ever contacted in about half of those cases.
[Photo: Wayne County Sheriff's Office]