Indian Doctor Pleads Guilty to Groping Minor on United Airlines Flight in U.S.
An Indian doctor pleaded guilty on Nov. 8 to groping a minor girl who was sleeping during a United Airlines flight from Seattle to New Jersey’s Newark Liberty International Airport in July.
Vijaykumar Krishnappa, 29, admitted to intentionally touching the girl, 16, near her groin over her leggings without her consent while she was asleep, Acting U.S. Attorney William E Fitzpatrick said in a statement. He will be jailed for 30 to 90 days in January, according to a plea agreement.
The girl was awakened by the stranger’s hands on her thigh. He quickly removed his hand when she woke up. The girl then went back to sleep.
“I knew what was going on but like, I just thought I was dreaming or something, like, this cannot really be happening,” she told CBS. She was on her way to Princeton after winning admission to a prestigious young women’s leadership academy.
However, the next time she woke up, he had “put his hand on her groin and inner thigh, and began rubbing the victim through her clothing,” according to the complaint. She caught him trying to put his hands inside her pants. She reported the incident to the airlines crew and they moved her to a different seat.
“I just felt like he could see me. Like he could see wherever I was sitting,” she told CBS News. “There was just still so much time, like, I couldn’t just leave the plane. I didn’t have anyone. I didn’t feel like there was anyone on the plane that could protect me.”
After landing at the airport she called her parents in Washington. Meanwhile, Krishnappa left.
The girl’s family filed a complaint against the airlines for not detaining the man, who was studying medicine in the United States under a fellowship for doctors from foreign countries.
“I literally thought I was going to die,” the teen’s mother said. “I’m 3,000 miles away. My child says she’s been sexually assaulted and I’m asking her questions and she’s like, disoriented, I’m like, ‘Where is he? Do you see him?’ And she said, ‘He just walked by me.’ And I said, ‘Get the police! Get United!”‘
The United terminal supervisor told the mother that “United did not follow their own protocols.” Later, the police and the FBI investigated the incident and the man was picked out by her from a line-up.