In yet another shocking incident that highlights the brazenness of men who sexually harass women in a public space, a 34-year-old Indian man was arrested in the US for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman passenger who was seated next to him on a flight.
When Celia* fell asleep onboard the Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on January 3, she could not have imagined the horror she would wake up to.
The 22-year-old was in the window seat, while Prabhu Ramamoorthy, an Indian national living in the US on a temporary visa, was in the middle seat with his wife in the aisle seat. When Celia woke up, she allegedly found her shirt and pants unbuttoned, and Prabhuâ€™s hands inside her pants.
Prabhu apparently stopped touching her when she awoke and opened her eyes around 5.30 am, which was 40 minutes before the plane was to land in Detroit. The distraught and shocked woman then approached the flight attendants in tears and informed them about the sexual assault.
Prabhu was arrested when the plane landed. After appearing before the federal court in Michigan, he was held without bail for aggravated sexual abuse.
According to court documents, two flight attendants confirmed that Celia had come to them in tears with her shirt and pants undone. The attendants kept Celia at the back of the plane and were offering her another seat when Prabhuâ€™s wife came there to see what was happening, federal prosecutor Amanda Jawad said.
According to a written statement by Prabhu, he had taken a pill (â€śplain Tylenolâ€ť) and fallen into deep sleep. He claimed that he had done nothing to his co-passenger, but that his wife had told him that Celia was sleeping on his knees.
Prabhuâ€™s wife, meanwhile, told a similar sequence of events and said that they had called the flight attendants to change their seats as well. However, the flight attendants denied the same.
Prabhu also apparently gave conflicting testimonies about what happened with the victim.
Federal prosecutor Amanda argued that Prabhu was â€śeven more of a danger to the communityâ€ť because he was â€śbrazen enoughâ€ť to commit the sexual assault in public â€śnext to his wife where anyone could have seen him.â€ť
Prabhuâ€™s lawyer Richard O'Neill offered to submit his clientâ€™s passport, and said that there had been no prior allegations of such nature against Prabhu and that he had a clean record.
According to another news report, however, Prabhu initially said that he did not know where he had placed his hands in his sleep.
But apparently he changed his statement later and said that he may have unclasped the victimâ€™s bra while she was asleep and placed his hands over her breasts.
The report also says that Prabhu admitted to unzipping Celiaâ€™s pants and putting his fingers inside.
Prabhu has reportedly requested the US government to contact the Indian consulate with regard to his case.
*Not her real name