Thursday, August 03, 2017

Passenger allegedly gropes teenage girl on United flight

A 16-year-old United Airlines passenger was left "traumatized" after a 28-year-old man allegedly groped her mid-flight, her lawyer tells ABC News.

The girl -- who was traveling alone aboard United flight 1695 from Seattle to Newark -- awoke from a nap to find fellow passenger Vijakumar Krishnappa's hand on her thigh, according to a criminal complaint filed against him in federal court in New Jersey.

Krishnappa removed his hand and she went back to sleep, but soon she was "startled awake" again. Krishnappa had his hand on her groin, "rubbing the victim through her clothing," according to the complaint. He also "tried to put his other hand inside of the victim's pants," the complaint claims.
"She was horrified," her attorney, Johnny McCray, told ABC News. "It's affected her ability to sleep and concentrate."

The girl notified a male flight attendant, who reportedly told her "that's not cool" and moved her to another seat, McCray maintains.

The flight attendant "did appear to have somewhat of a cavalier attitude," McCray said.

According to the attorney, it was the girl's mother -- not United -- that contacted the authorities after the plane landed. Meanwhile, Krishnappa had departed the airport.

McCray claims the airline violated its own policy, which he says directs employees to immediately notify authorities following allegations of a criminal act committed in the air.
Eventually, the FBI used the flight manifest to track down Krishnappa, a doctor from India. The girl identified him from a photo array.

Krishnappa was later arrested, released on $50,000 bail, and forbidden from contacting the girl. His attorney did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment, but told the Washington Post his client "adamantly denies the charges and deserves to be considered an innocent man."

"Our principal concern is making sure that Dr. Krishnappa is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law," said McCray, adding that the family has not yet discussed suing the airline.
02/08/17 Erin Dooley/ABC News